Economy not a consideration in Sweden’s coronavirus measures: Finance Minister

Economy not a consideration in Sweden's coronavirus measures: Finance Minister
A shopping mall in central Stockholm with significantly fewer visitors than usual. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT
The Swedish government has not made decisions on coronavirus regulations based on the potential economic impact, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson says.

She stressed that the government's strategy from the start has been to follow the advice from experts at the Public Health Agency, one of Sweden's state authorities. 

“What we have done is followed the recommendations that our expert authority has put forward on this area. Unlike some other governments, we haven't sat in our chamber and come up with our own measures, we have followed the advice we have had,” she told the TT newswire.

She said the measures had not been adjusted to limit the effects on the Swedish GDP or unemployment. 

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Asked what the economic impact would have been if the government had chosen a tougher strategy rather than focusing on voluntary measures, Andersson said: “That's a question economists will certainly look into afterwards. I am focused on the job I have now, trying to handle the crisis and mitigate its effects.”

“It's hard to judge [whether Sweden has been better or worse affected than other similar countries thus far], not least because the statistics aren't comparable yet. There is however some data showing the the fall in consumption in Sweden hasn't been as great as in some other countries.”

But the minister stressed that it would be a long time before any comprehensive evaluation could be done.

“It is too early to evaluate strategies around the spread of infection, and to be honest this has been exaggerated a bit, not least in the international press,” she told TT.

And she added that it is not only strategies to do with infection control, such as a lockdown, that affect how well countries will survive and recover from the crisis. 

“Take Denmark where they closed down a lot, that affects the economy there and then. But in the long run, their export market is medicine and food and these exports are affected a lot less than Sweden's, which are trucks and cars and so on,” she noted. “And if there is limited tourism, then countries like Spain, Italy and Croatia will of course be affected a lot.”


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