Sweden’s budget improves welfare, climate, jobs

ছবি Reuters File Photo: Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Anderson speaks in Stockholm, Sweden on January 18, 2021.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s center-left government said on Monday it would increase welfare spending by 23 billion Swedish crowns ($ 2.6 billion) next year in a budget aimed at reducing social inequality and moving to a more sustainable economy after the epidemic.

Sweden has recovered from the COVID-19 epidemic faster than most countries in Europe.

But long-term challenges remain, including increasing gang violence, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 20455 and plugging the gaps in a welfare system caused by an epidemic that has claimed the lives of about 15,000 Swedes.

In total, 74 billion crowns will enter the budget economy.

“It’s a budget to move Sweden forward after this epidemic,” Finance Minister Magdalena Anderson told a news conference.

“We are going to recruit more police, tackle the queue of healthcare because of Kovid and invest more ‘green’ across the country.”

The economy is expected to grow 4.4% this year and 3.5% in 2022, when a general election is held in Sweden.

Anderson, however, said it was important not to withdraw support too soon and that while many of the government’s epidemic aid projects were being phased out, spending would take long-term action.

“An important lesson of the financial crisis is that you don’t step out of the gas too soon,” he said.

The measures, most of which were already known, include 10 billion crowns on income tax reductions, about 12 billion crowns to counteract climate change and 8 billion crowns to increase employment.

Anderson, who chose to take over as prime minister when Social Democrat colleague Stephen Lofven resigned in November, also announced an additional বিল 5 billion crown increase in health care the following year.

The minority Social Democrat-Green government hopes a liberal budget will attract voters, but will also appease left and center parties, whose support coalition is likely to form the government after the next general election.

($ 1 = 8.7117 Swedish crown)

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