Budget 2011: Opposition Parties wanted more / News / The Foreigner

Budget 2011: Opposition Parties wanted more. The government has had an easy ride with their 2011 budget, according to some members of the Opposition. However, they claim Labour Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen has missed an opportunity. “The 2011 Budget shows the government is the luckiest one in Europe. Whilst the rest of Europe has to implement considerable cuts, considerable revenues from oil and tax mean the government can still increase spending in many areas,” says Jan Tore Sanner, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (H). Johnsen has used 4.2 percent of the return on the Government Pension Fund – Global (Oil Fund), marginally above the 4 percent Fiscal Policy Rule.

budget, national, government, ulf, leirstein, trine, skei, grande, hansolav, syversen, jan, tore, sanner, sigbjoern, johnsen, finance, minister, labour, conservative, christian, democratic, progress



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Budget 2011: Opposition Parties wanted more

Published on Wednesday, 6th October, 2010 at 16:30 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

The government has had an easy ride with their 2011 budget, according to some members of the Opposition. However, they claim Labour Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen has missed an opportunity.

Uncut sheet of 200-kroner notes
Uncut sheet of 200-kroner notes
Photo: Katrine Lunke/Norges Bank


Pensioner-bashing

“The 2011 Budget shows the government is the luckiest one in Europe. Whilst the rest of Europe has to implement considerable cuts, considerable revenues from oil and tax mean the government can still increase spending in many areas,” says Jan Tore Sanner, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (H).

Johnsen has used 4.2 percent of the return on the Government Pension Fund – Global (Oil Fund), marginally above the 4 percent Fiscal Policy Rule.

Sanner says his Party praises the government for approaching this figure, but he believes the government has not prioritised its spending correctly.

“Once again, the government has downgraded schools, research, transport and tax cuts that could contribute to growth and lasting welfare.”

According to Johnsen, the government proposes to introduce incentives for pension-drawing staff to work longer.

He argues now is the time to keep a tight rein on the Norwegian economy because of high government debt in many countries, as well as an uncertain outlook for economic growth.

However, Sanner claims many pensioners have been let down.

“It is necessary to lower taxes for those with low and regular pensions to make it more profitable to work longer. At the same, the government is pushing an unacceptable [policy] of tightening tax over on large groups of retirees,” he says.

Inadequate

The Progress Party’s (FrP) Spokesperson on Finance, Ulf Leirstein, believes the budget neglects the aged.

“Elderly care is worse off with the government's new budget proposal. It is a huge paradox that the government will earmark money for child welfare, but not for the elderly,” he tells The Foreigner.

The government has allocated just under 134 billion kroner, to include providing enough nursing home places by 2015. Leirstein thinks the timeframe is inadequate.

“I am disappointed that there will only be 2,000 new nursing homes next year, whilst the original ambition was 2500 nursing homes,” he says.

Leirstein also believes the police will have a tough year because of an insufficient budget.

Almost 2 billion kroner has been allocated to crime-fighting, combating religious extremism, improved compulsory deportation procedures, protecting children from violence and sexual abuse, fighting human trafficking, as well as increasing police numbers.

“The police are already [worn out] by the low operating budgets. The budget from the government will not improve this situation and I fear more police stations will be closed down in the coming year, which has already happened in Trondheim,” he says.

Underfunding has meant they have had to close their doors to the public several times recently.

The government’s proposed 5-10 percent tax increases on alcohol and tobacco have also attracted Leirstein’s censure.

“Higher taxes on for instance alcohol and tobacco are only likely to annoy people. The biggest effect this will have on people is that Norwegians will travel more to Sweden for trade.”

‘Shameful’

The Christian Democratic Party’s (KrF) representative on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, Hans Olav Syversen, is also concerned about welfare and elderly care.

Last week, Syversen criticised the last budget for trying to give something to everyone instead of focusing on these key areas. The government has done little new in next year’s budget, according to him.

“Such a spacious budget should have meant that child protection, fighting poverty, and the quality of care for the elderly received higher priority.”

His Party is also concerned about adequate treatment for drug addicts. According to Syversen, over 4,000 people are waiting in the queue.

The government has outlined part of the 134 billion is also to be spent on rehabilitation.

“The situation is shameful. It is difficult to understand why the government does not do more to prioritise helping those who want to escape from their abuse,” says Syversen.

Education and the environment

Both KrF and the Liberal Party (V) were concerned the government’s measures to improve the quality of education do not go far enough.

“More teachers and improved schools are important goals that need to be implemented now,” Syversen says.

“The government tackles everyday life, but does not address future challenges for education. The budget does not contain a single dime meant to increase the number [or quality] of teachers. Instead of giving [this] priority, the government is spending its money on extending the school days and on homework-help using teachers who do not exist,” says Liberal Party Leader Trine Skei Grande.

Skei Grande also raised concerns about how little she believes the government seems to have done regarding the environment.

“The government has yet to propose good measures for creating more renewable energy, cleaning the Kårstø plant or shifting our taxes in a green direction. The Liberal Party believes the budget is a new downturn for the climate settlement agreed by The Liberal Party, The Christian Democrats, The Conservatives and the governing parties in 2008.”



Published on Wednesday, 6th October, 2010 at 16:30 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: budget, national, government, ulf, leirstein, trine, skei, grande, hansolav, syversen, jan, tore, sanner, sigbjoern, johnsen, finance, minister, labour, conservative, christian, democratic, progress.





  
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