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BUDGET

Borg: Greek budget plan could ‘fall off the rails’

Sweden's finance minister Anders Borg warned on Tuesday that Greece is at risk of missing budget targets demanded by international lenders in return for bailout funds.

Borg: Greek budget plan could 'fall off the rails'

“It is quite clear that there is an evident risk that the Greek programme is off track,” Anders Borg told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of European Union finance ministers.

The Greek debt crisis tops the agenda at the meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) meeting of EU finance ministers.

“With a debt level of 160-170 of GDP there is a significant risk that it falls off the rails,” Borg said of Greece’s latest budget forecasts for 2011-2012.

Borg called for action to ensure that the situation is managed effectively.

“We have to rethink how we can move faster forward towards backstops and firewalls to handle the situation,” he said amid fears Greece is heading towards a default that could devastate the eurozone.

He said banks may have to be recapitalised to cope with the crisis and underlined the importance of having funds available if a move of this kind would become necessary.

The day before, eurozone finance ministers put off a decision on releasing the next installment of bailout funds to Greece, saying Athens can wait until November.

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ECONOMY

Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

Sweden is to channel a further 800 million kronor to local government and other organisations to bolster Sweden's civil defence capabilities, the country's finance minister has announced.

Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

The new funding, which will go to municipalities, regional government, and other organisations, was announced of part of the country’s spring budget, announced on Tuesday. 

“This will strengthen our ability to resist in both war and peace,” Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said in a press conference. “If the worst happens, it’s important that there is physical protection for the population.” 

The government is channelling 91m kronor towards renovating Sweden’s 65,000 bomb shelters, and will also fund the repair the country’s network of emergency sirens, known as Hesa Fredrik, or Hoarse Fredrik, many of which are currently out of order. 

A bomb shelter in Stockholm. Sweden’s government is spending 800m kronor in its spring budget to boost civil defence. Photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

Sweden’s Social Democrats are currently ruling on the alternative budget put together by the right-wing opposition, making this spring budget, which makes changes to the autumn budget, unusually important. 

The budget includes extra spending of some 31.4 billion kronor (€299m), with 500m kronor going to extra spending on healthcare,  and 10.3 billion kronor going towards supporting Ukrainian refugees, of which nine billion will come from the aid budget. 

The spring budget also includes the so called “pension guarantee bonus”, or garantitillägg, which will see four billion kronor (€390m) going to those with the lowest pensions. 

The bonus, which was the price the Left Party demanded for letting Magdalena Andersson take her place as prime minister, risks being voted down by the right-wing parties in the parliament. 

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