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Government millions spent on PR help: report

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Government millions spent on PR help: report
11:10 CEST+02:00
The Swedish government spent 119 million kronor ($18.6 million) on PR and communications between 2007 and 2010, according to Swedish media reports.

A significant amount was spent on explaining financial policies.

While most of the money has been spent on technical solutions for the government's website and printed information materials, over 800,000 kronor has gone to the Kreab & Gavin Anderson public relations agency, a firm with close ties to the Moderate party, reported Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Tuesday.

“For us who find all this self-evident it is easy to get blind to it,” said head of information at the finance ministry, Christine von Sydow, to DN.

The task of the PR company was to ensure that the government's financial framework was made understandable to the Swedish public. A series of seminars were commissioned for finance ministry administrators.

Chairman of the Riksdag's Committee of the Constitution, social democrat Sven-Erik Österberg thinks that it is strange that the government hired a PR company to explain its own financial policy.

“The finance ministry has 400 employees, so you would've though that they'd be able to explain their own framework,” said Österberg to DN.

But officials from the ministry disagree.

According to von Sydow, the ministry hired Kreab to make the framework of financial policy more graspable for the general public both in texts and graphics.

They were also to look at how to reach target groups in society who didn't surf into the ministry's web pages.

“We noticed that almost all those that visited the site were professional users like journalists, tax lawyers, or auditors,” von Sydow told the paper.

The PR agency Kreab was therefore hired to help them simplify the texts and make the information material more digestible for the general public.

Kreab is one of Sweden's oldest PR agencies, founded in 1970 by Peje Emilsson responsible for the Moderate party election campaign the same year.

Foreign minister Carl Bildt has previously been chairman of the board and former minister for employment Sven-Otto Littorin was employed by the agency in the 1990's, according to DN.

Sven-Erik Österberg told DN that a review of the money spent by on communications consultants may be in the cards.

“It looks like this could have to do with party politics, how to defend the party's policies,” he said to DN adding that regulations may have to be reviewed.

But according to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the government is not behind the hiring of PR consultants.

“This has been handled by the non-political part of the state administration and isn't something that the government has decided on,” Reinfeldt spokesperson Sebastian Carlsson told daily Aftonbladet.

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