1. Money, money, money
The government expects GDP, one of the key indicators used to gauge the health of a country's economy, to grow by 2.6 percent this year, 2.1 percent next year and 2 percent in 2019. This is an adjustment on the December prognosis, which predicted that GDP would grow by 2.4 percent this year and 1.8 percent next year. If you ask the government what sparked the success, the answer is a responsible fiscal policy turning the budget deficit to surplus after it took office in 2014. If you ask the opposition, the answer is likely to be that it is simply due to Sweden experiencing an economic boom following the financial recession.
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2. Maternity services and health care
Swedish maternity care has been in focus in recent years over reports of women in labour being turned away from overcrowded hospitals due to a lack of beds and forced to travel to other hospitals further away. As The Local has previously reported the spring budget proposal includes an extra 500 million kronor ($55.5 million) to boost staff numbers at hospitals, in addition to funds agreed in an earlier budget. The government also wants to invest 100 million kronor to improve mental health care for children and young people and another 150 million kronor to help boost their social care.
3. Police and military
Security has been one of the main issues debated in Sweden in the past year and it is unlikely to receive any less attention after this month's terror attack in Stockholm.
Sweden's police have been battling a funding and staff shortage for years and in the run-up to the spring budget debate the eight parties in parliament have almost been falling over themselves to be the ones promising the most new police officers for the force. The ruling centre-left coalition's bid for the spring budget is to inject an extra 700 million kronor into the police budget this year.
Sweden has also been increasingly concerned of geopolitics in the Baltic Sea area amid signs Russia may be flexing its military muscles, as well as fear of cyber hacking warfare. Another 500 million kronor will be added to the total defence budget, according to a cross-party agreement, to boost the Armed Forces.
Sweden is run by a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Green Party, which means that there is inevitably strong focus on green issues. The government has previously said it wants to make a "climate leap" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and an investment scheme is already in place, but it wants to add more money to the pot. "It is proposed that the Climate Leap, which co-finances charging stations, biogas plants and other climate investments throughout Sweden, be allocated 500 million kronor as the current pressure of demand points to the need for additional funds this year," said the finance ministry.
Those of Sweden's pensioners earning between 10,833 kronor and 25,000 kronor a month will see the amounts they have to pay in tax cut by up to 2,500 kronor a year, the government announced earlier this spring. This means that around 70 percent of people aged over 65 will have a little more money than before left in their wallet every month. The government wants to make more people pay state tax on their income however, which means higher taxes for those on medium to high incomes. The centre-right opposition has signalled it is likely to put up a fight in parliament about this particular point.
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