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Fiery debate over Red-Green spending plan

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Fiery debate over Red-Green spending plan
17:30 CEST+02:00
Anders Borg on Wednesday took aim at the centre-left opposition's "rampant" spending programme, prompting his Social Democratic counterpart to call the finance minster's analysis "defective and silly".

According to Borg, a member of the Moderate Party, Swedish households would see their taxes go up by a combined 23 billion kronor ($3.2 billion) under the opposition's proposals, presented on Tuesday as a part of the Red-Greens' election platform.

Overall, Swedes' tax burden would climb by 54 billion kronor, Borg estimates.

“This is a rampant and far reaching programme of tax hikes,” Borg said in a press conference on Wednesday.

He claimed that the opposition's proposals would result in public outlays rising to 34.9 billion kronor, half of which going to an increase in social welfare payments.

In addition, 4.4 million wage earners would end up with higher income taxes, Borg asserted.

“It was Lars Ohly who won and TCO who lost,” Borg said, citing the leader of the Left Party and the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, a white collar labour group.

Borg also claimed the Social Democrats' promise of keeping taxes for low- and middle-income wage earners from going up wouldn't hold.

According to the finance minister's calculations, a nurse would have 500 kronor less to spend each month under the Red-Green proposal. The example assumes that the opposition, if elected, would forego another round of tax deductions for workers as proposed by the centre-right Alliance.

Borg also said that the opposition's proposal to lower the ceiling for daycare fees (‘maxtaxa') wouldn't help single, low-income parents since they currently don't pay the maximum amount.

Social Democratic economic policy spokesperson Thomas Östros rejected Borg's critique of the Red-Greens' proposals and its effects as “deficient and silly”.

“His policies have resulted in 100,000 thousand more unemployed. My assessment is that if that policy continues, many of them will be knocked out (of the job market) forever, which will lower GDP and lead to a budget deficit,” Östros told the TT news agency on the margins of an election rally in Västerås in central Sweden.

He's upset that Borg, when he and the prime minister first commented on the Red-Green election platform, claimed that the opposition's proposals would result in 500 kronor more per month in taxes for “relatively normal wage earners”.

“That's a complete lie,” said Östros, countering that it amounted to 100-150 kronor a month for low- and middle-income wage earners and that the Red-Greens would also spend more money on welfare programmes.

Borg's calculations are based on the example of a nurse who earns 28,000 kronor per month.

Östros added that he felt it was irresponsible of Borg to consider tax reductions that the Alliance has proposed but not yet carried out as paramount to tax increases in the Red-Greens' proposals.

“In that case we could say that the Alliance wants to raise the maximum fee for daycare, because they don't want to lower it,” said Östros.

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