Opposition disappointed over interim national budget / News / The Foreigner

Opposition disappointed over interim national budget. UPDATED: Norway’s economy is showing strong growth and continuing to perform well, according to Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen. Opposition Parties express their dismay at a budget they perceive as going nowhere. With a low rate of unemployment, rising employment, and predicted above-trend growth in 2011, the minister says today’s revised budget “lays a foundation for the continuation for this favourable development.” Minister Johnsen is optimistic in his expectations. He talks of rising property prices, comparably low interest rates, at least for the time being, a predicted growth in private consumption, as well as a 3.25 and 3.5 percent mainland-GDP growth for this year and next, respectively.

sigbjoernjohnsen, revisednationalbudget, norwayinterimbudget



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Opposition disappointed over interim national budget

Published on Friday, 13th May, 2011 at 13:42 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 14th May 2011 at 20:23.

UPDATED: Norway’s economy is showing strong growth and continuing to perform well, according to Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen. Opposition Parties express their dismay at a budget they perceive as going nowhere.

Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen
Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen
Photo: Arbeiderpartiet/Flickr


Sustainable growth

With a low rate of unemployment, rising employment, and predicted above-trend growth in 2011, the minister says today’s revised budget “lays a foundation for the continuation for this favourable development.”

Minister Johnsen is optimistic in his expectations. He talks of rising property prices, comparably low interest rates, at least for the time being, a predicted growth in private consumption, as well as a 3.25 and 3.5 percent mainland-GDP growth for this year and next, respectively.

“Furthermore, significant growth in petroleum sector investments in 2011 and 2012, after the drop in 2010, will underpin GDP-growth,” he says.

Norway is raking in money because of high oil prices, helped by the Libyan campaign, and the Finance Minister says petroleum revenue-linked spending will be well below the 4 percent Fiscal Rule.

“As stated in the 2001 Fiscal Policy Guidelines, fiscal policy shall be directed towards a gradual and sustainable increase in the use of petroleum revenues.”

He also estimates the Oil Fund (Government Pension Fund Global) will reach a market value of 3,350 billion kroner by the end of 2011.

‘Horrible’

Ulf Leirstein MP, the Progress Party’s (FrP) representative on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, claims, “Sigbjørn Johnsen behaves as though Norway is a poor country.”

“To put it mildly, I find it odd that the government has such low ambitions at the same time that oil revenues and taxes are flowing in to the Treasury,” alleging the minister has not taken the police, schools, and car for the elderly into account.

Mr Leirstein says he is particularly disappointed about the seemingly meagre 186 million kroner towards key areas such as roads and public transport.

Meanwhile, Progress’ Bård Hoksrud uses the opportunity to criticise the government for not allocating funds for mid dividers on dangerous stretches of road.

Recalling the fatal accident in Lavangsdalen at the beginning of the year, which killed five people, he says, “It is horrible that no money has been set aside for these, which would reduce the number of casualties by between 70 and 80 percent.”

Jobs insecurity

Jan Tore Sanner MP, Deputy Parliamentary Leader for the Conservative Party (H), finds it “startling” that the government has lowered its ambitions for better-qualified teachers.

“Instead, it chooses to prioritise allocating large sums towards a general increase in public expenses,” he claims.

Mr Sanner is positive towards the strength of Norway’s economy, but is concerned about the effects of a stronger krone, higher interest rates and reduced competitiveness, which could threaten parts of Norwegian business life.

“The Conservative Party thinks Norway needs a better strategy to create sustainable growth that will secure Norwegian jobs and welfare in the coming years.”

Raising the transport issue, he says, “We believe there is a need to focus more on the roads and the railways.

“It just shows how little the government prioritises better and safer roads, when it chooses to increase allocations to running the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) by just as much as raising investment in improving main roads,” he continues, also claiming the government will not be able to fulfil its promise for more nursing spaces because building has stalled.

Railroading the public

Christian Democratic Party MP (KrF) Hans Olav Syversen is concerned about drug addicts, young mothers, teachers, the environment, and the police.

Calling the budget a confirmation “that Norway is a protected spot, internationally”, Mr Syversen says, “The government should have increased one-off benefits payments for young mothers and cut the queue for treating substance abusers.”

“Many students and young women state abortions are linked to poor economy. Young mothers without a strong connection to working life are only entitled to a one-off payment of 35,263 kroner.”

The government’s one billion kroner “ritualistic” allocation cut towards Mongstad’s Carbon Capture and Storage project comes under fire, as well its lack of extra police funding to reduce “the disturbing recent increase in sexual assaults and rapes.”

Christian Democratic Party leader Knut Arild Hareide censures what he believes are government plans to weaken the railways by taking out almost 100 million kroner in profits.

“It’s incomprehensible. There is broad political agreement about the importance of bolstering public transport,” he says.

At sea

Borghild Tenden, the Liberal Party’s (V) finance policy spokesperson, is more concerned the government has lost course instead.

It is not investing in knowledge, it is moving away from a climate consensus, lets down pioneers, and lacks concrete plans to fight poverty, according to her.

“The government’s budget proposal confirms the pattern of the last few years, namely that it has no will to lead Norway in any direction. Overall, it does not make for cheerful reading,” she concludes.




Published on Friday, 13th May, 2011 at 13:42 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 14th May 2011 at 20:23.

This post has the following tags: sigbjoernjohnsen, revisednationalbudget, norwayinterimbudget.





  
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