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Embassy closures can't be avoided: Bildt

TT/The Local/pvs · 19 Feb 2011, 09:42

Published: 19 Feb 2011 09:42 GMT+01:00

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Bildt thus rejected the findings in a report published by the Expert Group for Public Economics (ESO) on Saturday which argued the contrary, while conceding that he had not yet read the report.

"No. For the simple reason that we are talking about 130 million kronor ($20.3 million), that is a lot of money in our world," Bildt told news agency TT on a visit to Riga, referring to the savings required to balance the books at the foreign ministry.

Economist Richard Murray wrote in the Dagens Nyheter daily that the closure of the Swedish embassies could be avoided if the UD became more efficient, writing that the foreign ministry's operations have a number of shortcomings that give scope for savings.

ESO, which is an independent research body under the auspices of the finance ministry, concluded in its study that the foreign ministry is too large and top-heavy and is in need of reorganization.

Murray argued that development aid should be given its own department and trade affairs should be transferred to the enterprise ministry.

Bildt however said that there is an "ongoing operational development " at the foreign ministry, despite the fact that the report observed that no such process existed.

The report also claimed that IT structure is substandard, a situation to which Carl Bildt himself has several times commented upon on his blog, describing the system as ready for the museum.

When asked by TT what he, as the boss, planned to do about it, Bildt replied:

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"The government offices are integrated, we have no independent IT structure, and it can be quite frustrating," said Bildt, adding that IT is managed by the administration department.

Carl Bildt did however concede that some of the problems of flexibility and organization can be solved with the review now in the process of being completed and whose proposals will them be implemented.

The final report on the ministry's operations will be submitted Peter Egardt in early March.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:24 February 19, 2011 by Great Scott
If Sweden is really serious about saving money they should get rid of this clown bildt.
16:40 February 19, 2011 by AHA
What was it that an American diplomat described mr Bildt as, according to Wikileaks? That´s his second nature. I remember him, from a TV news sending when he was prime minister allowing one of his ministers, mrs Friggebo, to make a fool of herself and him by trying to convince some student protesters to sing "We shall overcome". The whole situation was so comical but I don´t think that he realized that and I think that he still doesn´t.
17:46 February 19, 2011 by krattan

You can find it on youtube if you search for "SVT: Kalabaliken i Rinkeby 1992"

Don't have time to check the details but I think it was mostly Rinkeby immigrants in the group protesting the steps taken by the government to bring in the first "Laser man" who mainly targeted immigrants. You are right about the clip. Bildt must have appeared totally incomprehensible to the audience.
02:01 February 20, 2011 by jackx123
there are better ways of saving money than closing down an embassy. to run the daily costs including a few staff, mostly locally hired, is not that significant - unless billet is in charge. he should be focusing on efficiency rather than closure.
04:22 February 20, 2011 by sine123
Although I neither live in Sweden nor know much about its government, I can safely say that slashing something off the budget plan makes any government more financially flexible.

Like any governments, Swedish government is too integrated, too bureaucratic and too institutionalised. Although I agree with Jackx123, achieving efficiency is a hard challenge.

I suggest they either cut foreign aid budget and migrant assistance fund (if there's any) or divide up the department so each division can specialise, such as IT as mentioned above.
10:14 February 20, 2011 by calebian22
Efficiency is an odd word in this situation. I remember when the volunteer consular officer in Portland, Oregon was eliminated due to expense. A knight of Sweden providing a free service to Swedes in Portland with not a kronor being spent by Sweden for his time and effort apparently was too expensive. Now it is more efficient for Swedes to travel to San Fransisco for consular services.

When government officials start bandying about the word efficiency it is really time to look a little closer.
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