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'Swedes' debts cost society billions': minister

The Local · 16 Apr 2012, 15:46

Published: 16 Apr 2012 15:46 GMT+02:00

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"It is always the borrower's responsibility not to shoulder a larger debt burden than he or she can carry. But we need an extended knowledge of the problem and a better safety net for vulnerable groups as the price of getting in over your head costs so much both for individuals and society as a whole," wrote Ohlsson in daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

In an opinion piece in the paper on Monday, Ohlsson wrote that the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden) estimates that unpaid debts amasses a cost to society of between 30 and 50 billion kronor ($4.4 billion to 7.3 billion) per annum.

Last year some 44,550 Swedes between 18 and 25 years of age had trouble paying off their debts and in total, 400,000 Swedes have debts registered with the agency.

However, the government has been taking measures to combat individual citizen falling into heavy debts, Ohlsson wrote in SvD.

This includes tightened rules on credit checks on quick loans and more support for those who want to learn how to balance their private economy.

But according to Ohlsson, more is needed not in the least to help the large group of young people who are in the danger zone of getting over their heads into debt.

She also touched upon the connection between debt and ill health, an area she thinks ought to be explored further.

Anna-Carin Gustafsson Åström of the Enforcement Authority is positive that the government wants to make a considered effort to tackle the issue. She thinks that there are many reasons behind the Swedes’ growing debt problem.

“Unforeseen circumstances, a life crisis, unemployment or divorce can make you be late with your repayments,” said Gustafsson Åström.

She also said that people tend to be pretty heavy in debt before they ask for help.

“With debt-rescheduling it takes five years to be debt-free but it takes a lot longer than that to get back on your feet,” she told TT.

According to Gustafsson Åström, Swedes consider their private economy to be something they don’t want to discuss.

Story continues below…

She would recommend anyone who faces a growing number of debts to contact the companies or the agency to receive help sooner.

TT/The Local/rm


The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:21 April 16, 2012 by Kr0n
"Unforeseen circumstances, a life crisis, unemployment or divorce can make you be late with your repayments," said Gustafsson Åström.

Swedish double-faced hypocrites! The proper answer is TAXES! Taxes eat away 60% of a person's income (including the employer's contribution).

Taxes! Taxes! Taxes! -- A very foreseen circumstance nobody talks about at the top!
21:15 April 16, 2012 by Swedishmyth
The combination of high taxes and low salaries make it almost impossible for the Swedish middle class to save money without lowering their living standards to poverty levels.

After all, with so much money being lost to the government, something has to go. Food and rent are right out along with many smaller expenses of maintenance, and most would rather not give up vacations and transportation.

What's left is savings and investment. In Sweden living paycheck to paycheck is a phenomenon that is prevalent much further up the economic scale than you find in most other Western countries. Thus the common practice of taking out a loan for anything but the most mundane purchases. Saving one's way through Swedish taxation requires tremendous sacrifice of quality of life, and time.
21:15 April 16, 2012 by viennacalling
And the ECB Loans 1 trillion euro to All the EU Banks at 1 Percent over 3 Years

Where can I sign up for this type of Loan Minister Ohlsson?
21:42 April 16, 2012 by swedejane
The government should develop a private savings plan whereby an individual can contribute a portion of their pre-tax income. It would encourage saving (good for the country and the individual) and also lower an individual's taxes (since they are, effectively, sheltering a certain percentage of their income). Kind of like a 401k, except let's not put it in the stock market.
02:15 April 17, 2012 by Bob Jacobson
Sweden recently signed a compact (along with 26 other European nations) that will subject each nation's budget to scrutiny by EU accountants wearing green eyeshades for excesses as they define them (primarily, spending some percentage more on benefits than a nation takes in as revenues). Nations that protest are subject to the tender mercies of the largest economies, France and especially Germany. We have seen how well Germany has treated Greece, despite Germany itself spending profusely. Perhaps Ohlsson is merely softening up the Swedish public for reductions imposed by Brussels and Berlin on public spending to maintain Swedes' high quality of life rather than on making German and other global banks wealthier and more powerful.
17:14 April 17, 2012 by kenny8076
everything costs so much here.... we have debt problems in the US but that has a lot to do with irresponsibility, here the people are just screwed out of everything, from the bogus SVT radiojänst or whatever it is bill we get every couple months for 500SEK ($73) to expensive food, OUTRAGEOUS fuel prices, ridiculous bus/train ticket prices, high rent..... on top of all your daily needs and bills. it just all adds up.

I just filled my citroen berlingo up today for 900SEK ($133)..... thats a day and 1 hour for me working to fill my car up. they have no mercy

im going back to the states in a couple weeks for a wedding and bought a camera had it shipped to my brothers house back home, cost $2060 (13,900SEK) with a 36 piece starter kick and 2 lenses, all brand new..... at el giganten its that same price for the body only!!! with a starter lense 16,000!!

its just insane, i cant figure it out, though the taxes are incredible i feel like they over charge AND add high taxes on stuff here.
01:32 April 20, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
Don't understand how any Swede with a job can be in debt. Yes, food & gas are high here but you get (almost) free healthcare, free university tuition, etc. Student loans & medical bills are the two main reasons for debt in my homeland (USA), and those types of expenses are non-existant to Swedes.

It seems the young people in debt in Sverige have forgotten the term "lagom" and simply buy, buy, buy to keep up with the Svenssons.
01:57 April 20, 2012 by Jeff10
Don't waste taxes on this BS. Stay out of people's lives.

Try this: fire most gov't bureaucrats, cut taxes, stop coddling islame terrorists and assorted primitive goups and presto, Swedes will have not need to borrow so much.
03:38 January 24, 2013 by B.olesen
@spuds - no medical & student loans are NOT the two main reasons for debt in the USA. Mortgages and credit card debt. I don't know what young people you are talking about forgetting to buy simple. The people in debt are probably similar to my husband, 50 years old, 3 kids - worked 25 years at the same company - no car, and 5 people living in a 2 bedroom apartment - yeah really living high on the hog. Food, clothing, bicycles, telephone service, and taxes taxes taxes. 25% VAT on all purchases - so if it's 75 bucks, you pay 100. That is a lot of money. Even without the insane taxes, items cost more in Sweden in general than the USA. A McDonald's 'meal deal' basically costs 12 bucks, with a tiny drink and a small fry to boot.

Also, I am REALLY outraged by the comment that healthcare is free (or almost free) NO it is more than paid for with 50% to 75% income taxes on TOP of the 25% VAT. WHY do Americans think socialized medical care is FREE, where do you think the money comes from? Heaven? It ought to, cause that's where a lot of people wind up with the crappy medical care here.
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