SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Sweden’s spring budget: 45 billion kronor cash boost for healthcare, jobs and more

Sweden on Thursday announced its spring budget proposal in full, with measures to help the healthcare sector, job market and other areas such as climate policy amounting to 45 billion kronor ($5.3 billion) in total.

Sweden's spring budget: 45 billion kronor cash boost for healthcare, jobs and more
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson presented the spring budget on Thursday. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Most of the measures are linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, with money set aside for the healthcare sector and business support, but there were also cash boosts announced to support rural areas, climate policy, and law and order.

“This is a budget for how we can work, together, to get Sweden out of the crisis,” said Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson at the presentation of the measures on Thursday. This comes amid a rise in newly reported cases and intensive care admissions for Covid-19, with Sweden one of the European countries worst hit by a third wave of the virus.

She said the government was expecting that Sweden will lift many of its coronavirus measures this autumn, such as restricted opening times for restaurants and limits on customer numbers in many establishments. But that depends on the development of the pandemic.

“We still have the restrictions in place now during the spring, but the restrictions might be lifted in autumn. But if the vaccination programme is delayed, then it will take longer before they can be relaxed and longer before the economy can ‘restart’,” she explained.

The 45 billion kronor is made up of a separate amendment budget as well as 22 billion kronor which are part of the spring budget.

Unsurprisingly, a large chunk of the money will go directly to the healthcare sector, including 1.65 billion for testing and contact tracing work, one billion for buying more vaccine doses and 700 million to Sweden’s 21 regions to help them carry out vaccinations. An injection of two billion kronor will not only support healthcare directly related to Covid-19 but also other care that has been postponed due to the pandemic.

“Money cannot, must not, will not be an obstacle in limiting the spread of infection or in caring for the sick,” said Andersson.

The Finance Minister also announced several other measures, including Swedish language courses, summer jobs and extending business crisis support and coronavirus sick pay rules. Here’s The Local’s in-depth explainer on what the budget means for you.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

ECONOMY

EXPLAINED: What can foreigners in Sweden do about the weak krona?

The Swedish Krona last week hit a record low against the dollar, hammering the international buying power of anyone earning their salaries or holding assets in the currency. We asked Johan Löf at Handelsbanken what they can do.

EXPLAINED: What can foreigners in Sweden do about the weak krona?

How low is the krona right now? 

On Tuesday, September 27th, the krona to dollar exchange rate hit an all-time-low of 11.37, easily beating the previous record low for the currency of 11.04, which it reached at the nadir of the dot com bust back in 2001. At the time of the financial crisis in 2008, a dollar would have got you less than 6 kronor, meaning the currency has almost halved in value in less than 15 years. 

A euro now gets you 10.9 kronor, which is not quite a record, with it briefly topping 11.4 in 2009, but more than it has been for most of the past decade. 

The only major currency which is more or less stable against the krona is the pound, which will now buy about 12.39 kronor, down from 13 in February, but above the levels of around 10.5 the pound hit shortly after the UK voted to leave the European Union. 

Why is the krona worth so little? 

Johan Löf, the head of forecasting at the Handelsbanken bank, told The Local, that the krona always tended to take a hit at times of financial uncertainty. 

“The krona is a relatively small currency much like the Swedish economy is a relatively small economy,” he said. “You could compare it to a small boat sailing the big ocean, so when you don’t go on the course that you thought you were going, it can be a bit of a shaky ride,” he said.

“Right now with financial market conditions being volatile, with a lot of uncertainty and risks, the Swedish krona takes a hit. Investors and various agents of the economy don’t want to hold so much of this smaller currency. Instead, they they go to safe havens like the US dollar.

“So even though there are fundamentals that would suggest that the Swedish kroner will strengthen again over time, for the time being and for some foreseeable future, we think that the krona will remain quite weak.”

How are foreigners living in Sweden affected? 

It very much depends on their individual financial situation: which currency they earn their salary in, which currency they hold assets in, and which currencies they have the highest outgoings in. 

People who live and earn in Sweden, but travel regularly to countries with stronger currencies, or perhaps send remittances back to family at home, are likely be negatively affected, Löf said. 

“It makes you lose purchasing power in these other countries: you get fewer goods and less services for the money that you have in the Swedish currency.”

It’s a similar situation for people or small businesses based in Sweden, who need to, or perhaps only want to, buy goods outside of Sweden. 

On the other hand, for people who have substantial savings abroad in dollars or euros, this might be an opportunity to convert them into kronor for use in Sweden.  

“If you have savings abroad, and you feel the need to use some of those savings, when you then sell your foreign currency to buy Swedish kronor, then you will get more Swedish kronor,” Löf explained. 

What can foreigners living in Sweden do to lessen the impact of a weak krona? 

Change the currency in which you get paid 

The best way to protect against currency exchange shocks is to make sure that you’re paid in the same currency that you spend in, so if you live in Sweden but have a lot of your outgoings abroad, it’s an advantage to be paid in dollars or euros. 

If you’re considering getting a new job, perhaps favour international employers that can pay you in one of the major currencies, or if you work for a big international company, perhaps you can ask to be paid in a different currency. 

Get freelance or part-time work outside of Sweden

If you work as a freelancer, or have some spare time for additional work, consider getting part-time freelance gigs with companies abroad that pay in euros or dollars. The lower the krona sinks, the higher your real wage when you spend in Sweden. 

Time major spending for the best point in the market 

If you have savings in kronor and are considering, for instance, buying a holiday house abroad, it is probably worth waiting until the kronor has strengthened and the Swedish economy is back growing strongly. 

Similarly, if you have savings outside of Sweden in euros or in dollars, and have been planning on buying a property in Sweden, now might be a good time to consider doing so (although it may be worth waiting a few months until interest rate rises have been fully reflected in reduced Swedish property prices).

Get a multiple currency account 

It can be helpful to have an account in multiple currencies, such as those provided by banks such as Wise and Revolut. Keeping any cash in a combination of dollars, euros and kronor can reduce your exposure to any single currency. 

The advantage for foreigners living in Sweden is that you can set up US dollar, Euro and Pound accounts, each with their own local bank number, which you can use to receive and make payments domestically in each country. 

With the krona so low right now, it may not be a good idea to convert all your assets from krona to euros or dollars right now, as the currency is probably more likely to strengthen than weaken over the coming year.

SHOW COMMENTS