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Budget Bill for 2018: Building our society – investing for the future
The Budget Bill for 2018 that was presented to the Riksdag today proposes vigorous reforms so that Sweden’s new economic strength benefits everyone, while the Government is also able to pay off national debt. The Bill is based on an agreement between the government parties and the Left Party.
"Sweden and the Swedish economy are in a strong position. Deficits have been turned into substantial surpluses. This new economic situation will be used to strengthen economic equality and combat unemployment. The society we build together will be made future-proof. In this way we create confidence in the future, hope and security," says Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson.
Sweden's economy continues to perform strongly and the country's growth rate is among the highest in Europe. The employment rate is rising rapidly and is now the highest in 25 years and the highest ever measured in the EU. Unemployment is decreasing and will continue to do so next year as well. In 2018, unemployment is expected to be under 6 per cent.
Public finances are strong and have shown a surplus every year since the Government took office, at the same time as we have made important investments in the welfare system. The national debt has decreased and, as a percentage of GDP, is back on the same level as 1977. Public finances are expected to continue to show a surplus over the next few years. In 2018, the surplus is estimated at 0.9 per cent of GDP, to then increase until 2020.
"There is now scope to implement extensive reforms and still achieve the surplus target for public finances. Sweden's economic success must benefit everyone, throughout the country. With extremely strong finances and an increasing number of people in work, the Government can now move ahead with vigorous investments for more people in work, reduced disparities in schools, more extensive climate action and increased welfare and security, at the same time as we pay off national debt," says Ms Andersson.
More people in work
The objective is for Sweden to have the lowest unemployment in the EU by 2020. Over 200 000 more people have a job to go to than before this Government took office, but more needs to be done. This particularly applies to those who have not completed upper secondary school or were born outside Europe. The Government therefore proposes consolidating and simplifying employment support and special measures, for example an education obligation, so that new arrivals can find work. The Government is also presenting a number of reforms to stimulate small and growing businesses. And work to ensure growth throughout the country will continue with measures concerning railway traffic, road maintenance and public transport, as well measures to ensure state presence throughout the country.
Sweden must have equitable knowledge-based education
Inequalities in the school system must remedied so that pupils can learn more. All schools must be good schools. The Government has already invested more than SEK 11 billion in more equitable knowledge-based education in 2017, and 20 000 more people have been employed in schools since the Government took office. But to achieve the Government's goal of equitable knowledge-based education, more must be done. The Government therefore proposes an initiative amounting to SEK 1 billion to reduce disparities in schools. The Government will also continue to work for early intervention and to make the teaching profession more attractive. In addition, it is proposed that compulsory school attendance be extended.
Sweden will be a fossil-free welfare nation
Sweden will be one of the world's first fossil-free welfare nations. This is why the Government has made the largest investments in climate and environment in Sweden's history. Sweden is now closer to achieving Sweden's climate target for 2020 through domestic measures alone. The Government is now further strengthening climate and environmental efforts through major investments in clean seas, protection of drinking water and dynamic and toxin-free urban environments, and measures to promote fossil-free travel and transport. The Government also proposes strengthening the Climate Leap at the same time as a Green Industry Leap is introduced, i.e. support for innovative projects and new technologies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. In addition, the Government proposes several tax amendments to reduce emissions from the road transport sector and aviation.
Welfare system must be strengthened
Sweden will be a leading welfare nation. Everyone must contribute, and everyone will share in the growing prosperity. The Government has implemented extensive initiatives in the welfare system. The work continues in this budget, and the Government is announcing an additional increase of the general government grants to local government in 2019. In addition to the general grants, the Government proposes increased targeted grants to county councils to shorten queues and improve coordination and the staffing situation. Maternity services will receive an additional SEK 1 billion next year, and major investments will be made in psychiatry and primary care. All told, health care services will receive an additional SEK 5.5 billion next year. That is the biggest health care investment in modern times.
In all, these investments mean that during this electoral period, the Government has strengthened the welfare system by more than SEK 35 billion in 2018. The Government also proposes raising child allowance, and that the tax gap between pensions and wages be gradually phased out between 2018 and 2020.
Sweden must be secure
Sweden must be a country in which everyone is secure and safe, regardless of where they live. This is why the Government is proposing that additional funds be allocated to the Swedish Police Authority, the Swedish Security Service, SOS Alarm and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service. Honour-related violence must be combated. The Government also proposes extensively strengthening the total defence's capabilities and allocating the largest increase in over a decade to Swedish Customs to stop illicit trade in drugs and weapons.
More equitable distribution
This government bill is projected, on average, to increase earnings in all income groups. The reforms are expected to have the greatest effect in groups with the lowest income and so even out the differences. In addition, women will benefit more than men, which will strengthen economic equality between women and men.