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Swedish 'austerity' to achieve surplus: PM

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Swedish 'austerity' to achieve surplus: PM
Prime and Finance Ministers Fredrik Reinfeldt and Anders Borg. Photo: TT
13:02 CET+01:00
Sweden's government said on Monday it would aim for a budget surplus with no more tax breaks, a move the opposition called a stunt by the prime minister to dress up in his finest Mr Financial Fix-it suit.

"We will gladly cooperate in easing taxes for normal people who work, but from now on everything will be financed krona by krona," Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told the press in Stockholm.

"The economy has gone into a new phase and the government will not propose further tax cuts the coming years," Reinfeldt said, announcing the mid-term goal for Sweden to reach a budget surplus. "It can be done through lowering expenses and also through tax reform." 

"We should not be fooled that financial crises are a thing of the past, which means it's important to keep the coffers full in good times," he concluded.

The finance minister, also speaking at the press conference, said the global recession had forced the government to stimulate the Swedish economy in recent years. Anders Borg said that as the international outlook stabilized, however, the framework for Swedish financial politics would have to change. 

"We won't sit down to negotiate the budget with 15 or 20 billion to dispense, so we'll see more austerity ahead," Borg said.

Opposition politicians said Monday's conference allowed the two government silverbacks to show off their financial prowess. 

"I see it as a desperate attempt by Reinfeldt and Borg to lift the question of a tidy economy, despite there being no conflict on the subject between the parties," Green Party spokeswoman Åsa Romson told the TT news agency. 

Romson also called the bluff, she said, on the conservative government's call to end tax cuts. 

"I'm sure nobody believes that they won't continue cutting taxes in two years' time if they get the chance," Romson said. 

The Social Democrat shadow finance minister Magdalena Andersson said the government had done a tax U-turn.

"It's only 50 days since the Moderate Party was fighting tooth and nail to lower taxes for those who earn the most," she told TT. "Now they've woken up. The only thing I have to say is: Good morning Moderates!"

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