Opposition strikes back over spring budget

Opposition strikes back over spring budget
Ulla Andersson
The left-green opposition has criticised the spring fiscal policy proposal represented by the government on Thursday, calling for more money for new jobs and a shoring up of municipal finances.

Left Party economic policy spokesperson Ulla Andersson responded to the proposal by saying that more needs to be done to tackle high unemployment.

“Even if growth is increasing, unemployment is proving stubborn and labour market development is negative this year,” Andersson said in a preliminary comment on finance minister Anders Borg’s interim budget proposal which was due for debate in parliament at lunch time on Thursday.

It is surprising, Andersson argued, that despite the current situation Borg does not consider the need for further, larger measures. She argued that retaining the extra funds allotted to municipalities would have been a good start and enable public service job creation.

“Then the money would remain in the public sphere and remove the need for unemployment insurance payments,” said Ulla Andersson, pointing out that researchers have warned of a third of the unemployed being at risk of permanent exclusion from the labour market.

The Green Party questioned what the government’s visions are and why it is pledging to pull back extra funds earmarked for the municipalities.

“The government has had only one single idea – the working tax credit – and gives no clue to voters over the future,” said Green Party economic policy spokesperson Mikaela Valtersson.

It is irresponsible to lavish an extra 17 billion kronor ($2.4 billion) on the municipalities only to cut back 12 billion the following year, she argued.

“Municipal costs increase, welfare payments increase. If the municipalities are to be be able to maintain operations, they must raise taxes or make cuts,” she said.

But Valtersson was unwilling to clarify just how much the left-green parties considered necessary to reinforce municipal finances for 2011, saying this would be specified at a later date.

The Green Party argued that the proposition lacked measures on climate change and the environment.

“There is nothing that can be expected to lead to a reduction in emissions,” said Mikaela Valtersson.

Social Democrat economic policy spokesperson Thomas Östros argued that the only real news in the spring fiscal policy proposal was that growth is set to decline by 15 billion kronor.

“Anders Borg was over optimistic and excited and wrote up growth and is now forced to revise it back down,” he said.

According to Östros, current government policy creates no new jobs and has instead increased social exclusion.

“We are now closing the books on Anders Borg – 100,000 lost jobs during his term of office and yet the budget is cleansed of employment measures. Anders Borg’s record for employment policy is shocking,” he said, calling for a rigorous policy for jobs.

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