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The 2017 Spring Budget: Building our society – for security and a sustainable future
On 7 April 2017, Sweden suffered a horrific attack. It was an attack not only against those directly affected, but an attack against all of us. The attack aimed to undermine our open and democratic society. This will never happen. Sweden will stand together. We will continue building our society – a society characterised by resolve, trust and confidence in the future. Policy work for a better and stronger society continues, and today the Government is presenting a spring amending budget and guidelines for economic policy, including new economic forecasts. The public finances are in surplus for each year of this electoral period. Sweden’s economy is strong, employment is at record levels and unemployment is falling.
The Spring Fiscal Policy Bill and the proposals in the spring amending budget are based on an agreement between the government parties and the Left Party.
"By pursuing a responsible fiscal policy since taking office, we have succeeded in bringing the huge public finance deficit we inherited back to surplus each year of this electoral period. This has placed us in an entirely new position and offers us new opportunities to meet social challenges. The Swedish model can continue to deliver," says Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson.
Sweden's economy continues to perform strongly
Swedish growth is also expected to be high in 2017, forecast at 2.9 per cent (in calendar-adjusted terms). This is a higher growth rate than the forecast for comparable countries in Europe, and higher than what is expected in Finland, Denmark and Norway.
Growth is broad-based and driven by higher exports, increased private investments – primarily in housing construction – and increased consumption, both private and public.
Unemployment has fallen considerably since 2014 and is expected to continue to fall over the next few years. The employment rate of people aged 20–64 is now the highest ever recorded in the EU. Youth unemployment is the lowest in 13 years and long-term unemployment has fallen; Sweden now has the lowest long-term unemployment rate in the EU, together with Denmark.
A responsible fiscal policy and good employment growth brought the public finances back into surplus in both 2015 and 2016, and reduced the national debt. In 2014 the deficit was more than SEK 60 billion; by 2016 net lending had increased by SEK 100 billion and the surplus amounted to SEK 40 billion.
Measures in the spring amending budget for 2017
Since the Budget Bill for 2017 was presented to the Riksdag, events in Sweden and around the world have created the need for more measures to be taken as early as this year.
Increased security and safety
The Swedish Police Authority needs an injection of funds beginning this year in view of the major challenges it is facing. With the proposed injection of SEK 700 million, the Authority will, among other things, be able to further increase the number of employees.
In light of the deteriorating security situation, the Government and the other parties to the defence agreement see a need to strengthen total defence starting as early as this year. Total defence will receive a further SEK 500 million.
Higher-quality schools and welfare
In the spring amending budget SEK 500 million will be allocated this year to schools with the greatest needs. The upper secondary Introduction Programme will receive SEK 150 million.
The need for mental health and social support services for children and young people has proven to be greater than previously assessed; an additional SEK 250 million has therefore been allocated to this area this year.
Maternity services are under extreme pressure. For this reason, the previous investment will be increased by SEK 500 million this year.
More rapid transition to a climate-resilient society
It is proposed that the Climate Leap, which co-finances charging stations, biogas plants and other climate investments throughout Sweden, be allocated SEK 500 million as the current pressure of demand points to the need for additional funds this year.
Guidelines for economic and budget policy
Unemployment must continue to fall
The Government's jobs agenda consists of investments in upskilling and an active labour market policy, investments in housing and infrastructure, and an active industrial policy. In addition, more employees are needed in the welfare sector. Strengthening schools, health care and the police also creates more jobs. The objective of achieving the lowest unemployment rate in the EU by 2020 guides economic policy.
Learning outcomes in schools must continue to improve
The Government's objective is equitable knowledge-based education for all pupils. The welfare billions support the municipalities but so do the Government's investments in, for example, smaller classes, the reading-writing-arithmetic guarantee, and higher teacher salaries. Including the spring amending budget, the Government's total targeted investments in education amount to SEK 11 billion this year alone.
Sweden will be a leader in the transition to a climate-resilient world
The climate policy framework will guide the climate actions of this and future governments. The impact of environmental taxes will increase and promote more climate-smart transport and energy forms. Sweden will become one of the world's first fossil-free welfare nations. The transition also leads to more jobs, when investments are made in railways and trains and when Sweden's environmental technology exports increase. The Climate Leap will involve the entire country in reducing climate emissions to ensure that we achieve the national emissions target by 2020.
Sweden must be secure
Sweden must be a secure country. Society must therefore stand up to crime through law enforcement, crime prevention and the prosecution of those individuals who commit crimes. Penalties for serious criminal offences have been increased and the police have received more resources. The Swedish Police Authority has received funding to continue bringing more police officers closer to citizens. Increased police presence is essential. We must be tough on both crime and the causes of crime.