Debt office forecasts boost to state coffers

The Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) has forecast that state finances will recover quicker than expected, according to a new report.

The state budget deficit is expected to amount to 53 billion kronor ($7.4 billion) in 2010, 11 billion kronor above a previous forecast, the office stated in its new report.

The budget deficit is expected to shrink to 37 billion kronor in 2011, 4 billion up on previous forecasts.

The reasons behind the stronger figures lie unemployment figure remaining lower than feared.

Despite the increase in total national debt, it will remain under 40 percent of GDP. By the end of 2011 the national debt is forecast to amount to 1.28 billion kronor – equating to 38 percent of GDP.

The debt office described Sweden’s state finances as sound and thus deemed that there is scope for new government investment before the autumn election, even if this is not included in the projections.

“A package of 10 billion kronor would naturally affect our forecast, but the government could do so, in contrast to a slew of other countries,” debt office head Bo Lundgren said.

As a result of the more upbeat forecast, the national debt office does not now intend to amend its borrowing plans, according to a statement.

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Swedish budget surplus by 2011: report

Sweden’s National Debt Office (Riksrevisionen) vastly improved its forecast for the country’s finances on Tuesday, saying Sweden will nearly balance its budget this year and should see a surplus in 2011.

Swedish budget surplus by 2011: report

“The Swedish economy appears to be stronger than in our previous forecast (in June), in particular in 2010. The recovery in Sweden has been stronger than in the euro area and the United States,” said the National Debt Office, which is the government’s financial manager.

Sweden is now expected to post a budget deficit of just five billion kronor ($726 million) this year, down from the previous forecast of a 14-billion-kronor deficit, the debt office said in a statement.

“The budget is thus almost balanced. This strong development continues in 2011 and 2012 when the forecast indicates a central government budget surplus of 18 billion kronor and 78 billion kronor respectively,” it said.

The debt office had previously said it expected to see a budget deficit of around eight billion kronor next year, while Tuesday marked its first forecast for 2012, according to Håkan Carlsson, who heads up the office’s budget forecast division.

“In an international perspective, Swedish finances appear strong,” Carlsson told AFP.

Tuesday’s announcement came as the European Union president warned the 27-nation bloc would not survive if it failed to overcome a debt crisis plaguing euro currency governments which has already brought Greece to its knees, and now threatens Ireland and Portugal.

Sweden, an EU member but not part of the eurozone, meanwhile should be able to reduce its lending going forward due to its improved financials, the debt office said.

The Swedish central government debt, which unlike the public debt does not include social security and regional authority obligations, was expected to correspond to 35 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year, the debt office said.

In 2011, it would likely correspond to 33 percent of GDP, and in 29 percent in 2012, it added.

Sweden’s total public debt stood at around 39 percent at the end of 2009, down from its all-time high of 76 percent of GDP in 1996.

Although Sweden is not a member of the eurozone, it is one of few European Union countries to fully respect the Maastricht criteria for euro countries, which among other things require that public debt not exceed 60 percent of GDP and that the annual public deficit remain below three percent of GDP.