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Swedish PM hits out at refugee benefit proposal

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Swedish PM hits out at refugee benefit proposal
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven speaks to the press. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT
07:27 CET+01:00
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has criticised a proposal by the Christian Democrats to reduce the costs of the asylum process, suggesting the idea may play into the hands of the nationalist Sweden Democrats.

On Thursday the party leader of the Christian Democrats Göran Hägglund suggested that refugee benefits should be cut. Among the proposals put forward by Hägglund was to allow new immigrants to earn up 100,000 kronor ($13,000) tax free per annum for their first five years in Sweden.

"It's the wrong way in to believe that refugees who come here are content to sit and earn 5,000 - 6000 kronor a month and that they don't want to work and do what's right for them, it's our job to ensure they come in and work," Löfven told the TT news agency.

When Hägglund made the proposals he stated that he was "tired of the fact that all discussions start and end with the Sweden Democrats" in relation to immigration.

Shortly afterwards the acting party leader of the Sweden Democrats, Mattias Karlsson, called a press conference in which he welcomed the ideas put forward by the Christian Democrats.

Karlsson said it was a "breakthrough" for the nationalist party and backed proposals to cut refugee benefits and to introduce temporary residence permits.

However, Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven has hinted that the bid could backfire for the Christian Democrats.

"It's a risk that it will play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats," he said.

Löfven added; "Residency permits are an issue that the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) determines."

The Christian Democrats are keen to introduce temporary residence permits to replace the current process of permanent residency.

Sweden's Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson said that temporary permits could make the integration process worse.

"That you would get it if you got a job would risk bringing the person into a compulsory situation in relation to the employer," he said.

While the Sweden Democrats gave their backing to cutting asylum costs and introducing temporary permits, the party's acting leader Mattias Karlsson blasted plans for a 100,000 kronor tax exemption as "completely unacceptable."

The opposition Alliance parties have not given their backing to the proposals put forward by the Christian Democrats and are working on their own migration policy suggestions in advance of next year's general election.

Swedes are expected to go to the polls again on March 22nd. 

TT/The Local/pr

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