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KEY POINTS: What you need to know about Sweden’s next budget

magdalena andersson outside parliament holding the 2022 budget
Former finance minister, now possibly future prime minister Magdalena Andersson before budget debates in September this year. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
The new government will have to govern on the right-wing opposition's budget after it won a vote in parliament. But what does the new budget actually entail?

Just hours after Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister in a historic vote, the Swedish parliament held another historic vote, passing what will be the first governing budget co-authored by a far-right party.

The budget, negotiated jointly by the conservative Moderates and Christian Democrats and the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, uses the government’s budget as a basis, with “marginal adjustments”, said Andersson at a press conference to newswire TT.

It then sparked a political crisis, which saw the Green Party quit the government coalition, Andersson resign just hours after being appointed, then Andersson being re-nominated again. Parliament is set to vote on her again on Monday, but no matter what happens, the budget has been passed and will stand at least until the next government can put forward an amendment budget in spring.

The main points in the opposition’s budget are as follows:

Taxes

Changes to jobbskatteavdrag – a tax reduction for work income, which will now only be offered to those working or receiving a pension. The government’s budget proposed extending this tax reduction to those who are on long-term sick leave or receiving unemployment benefits.

In figures, those working full time will pay roughly 1,800 kronor less in tax per year. This is expected to cost the state 8 billion kronor. Pensioners with an average pension of 13,000 kronor per month will also pay 1,800 kronor less in taxes per year, which is expected to cost 4.2 billion kronor.

Finally, the opposition’s budget proposal includes lower petrol and diesel taxes – these will be reduced by 50 öre per litre from May 1st 2022. The Moderates originally wanted this to be a reduction of 1 krona per litre, so this appears to be a compromise between the three opposition parties. This is expected to cost 2.4 billion kronor in 2022, and 3.3 billion over a full year.

Law and order

The opposition’s budget has a clear focus on law and order, differing on a number of points from the government’s proposal.

It proposes increasing salaries for police officers, at a cost of 400 million kronor in 2022, increasing to 800 million in 2023 and 1,200 million in 2024.

It will also offer 150 million kronor to the National Forensic Centre (NFC) – the Swedish national agency responsible for forensics.

Furthermore, the police force will be getting 300 million kronor to spend on technology, some of which will be spent on more security cameras.

75 million kronor will go to the Migration Agency to increase capacity in immigration detention centres, with this increasing to 150 million kronor from 2023. In addition, 10 million kronor per year will also be put aside for electronic ankle monitors “as an additional measure”.

Finally, other judicial authorities such as customs and the coastguard will be given 525 million kronor, rising to 805 million in 2023 and 1,035 million in 2024.

Work and education

The opposition’s proposal, unlike the government’s, will not include an increased budget for certain measures designed to get newly arrived immigrants into work.

Their budget does, however, suggest “lower costs for employing long-term unemployed”, as well as resources to “strengthen work on work environment” but it is unclear as to what exactly this means.

The opposition budget also proposes to provide the government with 5 million kronor per year for “a large-scale benefit reform”.

The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) will be tasked with preparing for an extra hour of class-time per day, with resources allocated to this from 2023 onwards.

400 million kronor will also be allocated to “combatting knowledge loss”, by, for example, offering extra classes for students who require it.

This will be accompanied by 50 million kronor allocated to improving school inspections.

Healthcare

3.4 billion kronor will be earmarked for healthcare, to go towards reducing waiting times caused by the pandemic.

In addition to this, 2.9 billion kronor will be allocated to increasing the health service’s treatment capacity – currently lowest per capita in the EU. Measures for eradicating cervical cancer will also be allocated funds – with 25 million kronor per year going towards screening and vaccinations. HIV-prevention measures will receive 25 million kronor in 2022, 50 million in 2023 and 75 million in 2024.

Families

The government’s “family week” proposal – an additional three days per parent per year of paid leave for parents of children between 6 and 16 – has been altered in the opposition’s budget, with parents still able to take this leave, although it will be unpaid.

2 billion kronor will go towards smaller classes in preschools, as well as 500 million kronor for parent support programmes – “to help parents and children who are experiencing difficulties”.

Immigration

The opposition believes that Sweden “needs responsible immigration policy”, wishing to “work together to reform immigration policy after the next election”. However, the budget does not include any specific funds allocated towards immigration measures.

The opposition mentions the following points in their budget, but says only that it wants to work towards them after the next election in September 2022 – so they won’t come into force as part of this budget proposal:

  • Asylum laws will be adapted to reflect the legal minimum level according to EU law.
  • Labour migration will be limited, partially by introducing a higher minimum salary requirement.
  • More deportations and asylum application rejections will be carried out.
  • Work to combat illegal immigration as well as those who live in Sweden illegally will be prioritised.

Climate and energy

The opposition’s budget allocates “resources” to the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten), to carry out a programme for CO2 storage, aiming to capture and store two million tons of CO2 per year, intending to raise its budget by 30 billion kronor between 2026-2046.

600 million kronor will be allocated to extending Sweden’s charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, increasing to 1 billion kronor in 2023.

The full budget proposal is available here (Swedish).


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