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BUDGET

Sweden boasts hefty budget surplus for 2011

Sweden’s national debt office (Riksgälden) stated on Tuesday that the country’s budget surplus from 2011 stood at 68 billion kronor ($9.85 billion).

“Despite increased concerns about the debt situation in the world and an expected slowdown in the economy during the second half, Swedish government finances developed strongly in 2011,” the debt office said in a statement.

While Sweden, with its heavily export reliant economy was hard-hit during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, its recovery “continued to be strong in 2011, which generated higher tax income,” the office said.

The debt office pointed out that the government during the year had also sold off shares worth 23 billion kronor in the Nordic region’s biggest bank, Nordea, and in Swedish-Finnish telecom giant Telia Sonera.

Sweden’s central government debt meanwhile stood at 1,108 billion kronor at the end of 2011, which corresponds to 32 percent of the non-euro-member’s gross domestic product (GDP), far below the 60-percent level allowed within the eurozone.

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ECONOMY

Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.

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