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Red-Greens propose billions for cities

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Red-Greens propose billions for cities
13:53 CEST+02:00
The Red-Green coalition has set aside 6.5 billion kronor ($991.2 million) more in its shadow budget for local governments than the centre-right Alliance government has for 2011.

The proposal in the motion largely follows the election manifesto the Red-Greens had unveiled before the September parliamentary election.

For schools, the coalition proposes an investment in quality, while it also pledges to cut taxes for retirees by 2.5 billion kronor and social security contributions for small businesses by 2 billion kronor.

Like Finance Minister Anders Borg had mentioned earlier, the Red-Greens pointed out that it is difficult to predict developments in the global economy.

"GDP growth looks like it will be strong again in the next measurement, but there are uncertain factors to consider," said Social Democratic economic policy spokesman Thomas Östros when he, Ulla Andersson of the Left Party and the Green Party's Mikaela Valtersson presented the shadow budget at a press briefing on Monday.

Östros singled out the uncertain developments in the US and that many countries in the world are implementing large cutback programs.

As for Sweden, one of the big challenges facing the country is reducing unemployment, especially for young people -- an area in which the government has fallen short when it comes to policy, according to the Red-Greens.

The Red-Greens have pledged the same scope for reforms as the government, setting aside slightly more than 10 billion kronor, but they would fund the proposals through a different set of reallocations within their own parties.

One specific proposal would be to scrap the reduction in employer contributions for employees aged 26 and above. In addition, the Red-Greens want to decrease the in-work tax credit programme (jobbskattavdraget) for top earners, which would add an estimated 2 billion kronor to government coffers.

The Red-Greens also propose cutting the defence budget by 2 billion kronor, while at the same time increasing taxes on alcohol and tobacco in order to boost state revenues by 2 billion kronor.

Taxes on on nuclear and hydroelectric power would also be increased, as would taxes on carbon dioxide, with the latter expected to bring in another 2 billion kronor in 2011, in line with the Red-Greens' previous spring budget proposition and election manifesto.

In addition to proposals that cost money, the Red-Greens also want to introduce whistleblower protection for staff at enterprises run by private companies, but with local government or public funds.

Not surprisingly, the government showered the shadow budget with criticism.

"What they have presented are idle politics. There are no proposals that create new jobs," said Borg on the Red-Greens' proposals.

He argued that the proposals would lead development in the wrong direction and may result in fewer jobs, as well as repeating past mistakes.

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