Nyhet | Dato: 08.05.2002
The Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
Norway Daily No. 86/02 OEW/
Date: 8 May 2002
Finance minister reaps benefits of windfall income (Aftenposten)
Extra income has made it easy for Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss to make room for additional expenditures in the Revised National Budget. Mr. Foss has wrapped up the budget with nearly NOK 7 billion in tax revenues which were unknown to him just a few months ago. The opposition feels Mr. Foss has had it easy, but is unlikely to make things any more difficult for him. Nonetheless, the budget is likely to grow further before it passes the Storting.
The high price of credit in norway (Dagsavisen)
Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss acknowledges that his budget will certainly not bring interest rates down. His view of Norwegian interest rates, however, is that they are just fine where they are. His budget elicited no more than a shrug of the shoulders from the money market yesterday. Brokerage houses have already predicted a one-half per cent rise in interest rates this autumn, and they are not inclined to change this figure. A few years ago, politicians were overbidding each other in their efforts to promise the voters interest rate cuts, but interest rates in Norway are now twice as high as in the euro zone.
Municipal disappointment in finance minister (Nationen)
There is a deep current of disappointment running through the reigning coalition’s mayors over the fact that Minister of Finance Per-Kristian Foss (Cons.) has left municipal industrial support funding out of the Revised National Budget. The municipal sector is receiving an additional NOK 900 million, but the Government’s message is clear: "The central government will not cover the deficit run up by the municipalities," says Mr. Foss.
National spending spree in store (Verdens Gang)
Personal incomes will rise faster than prices this year. According to the most recent estimates from the Ministry of Finance, wages will go up five per cent, but prices only 1.4 per cent. This translates to over 3.5 per cent real gain in private spending power. Most of us will be better off in the short term, but the threat of higher interest rates is looming in the background.
Foss exploring sick pay cuts (Vårt Land)
Sick leave has risen steadily for many years in Norway. A billion krone rise in sick pay expenditures has Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss looking for ways to change the sick pay scheme. "We may have to do something about this in the 2003 budget," he says. Unions and employers made a deal with the government last year to bring sick leave down in an effort to save the benefits scheme from cuts.
Labour blocks day-care ceiling (Aftenposten)
The Socialist Left and the Progress Party joined forces on a proposed NOK 1500 cap on day-care fees, but it is now clear that the bill doesn’t stand a chance without the support of the Labour Party. Labour puts full day-care coverage ahead of lower costs to parents. "We cannot support a move that will provide cheaper day care for a few," says Hill-Marta Solberg (Labour), whose parliamentary group had agreed to negotiate the issue with Progress and the Socialist Left.
SMS market hits nok 1.5 billion (Aftenposten)
The market for messaging, ringing tones and logos has exploded. Norwegian cell-phone customers paid NOK 1.5 billion for these services last year, and it’s likely to get worse – or better, according to one’s viewpoint – say industry analysts, who estimate that the market for SMS services will reach NOK 3 billion in 2005.
- Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss (Cons.) has dished out nearly NOK 6 billion to good causes in the Revised National Budget. This has Labour worrying about rising interest rates, while the Progress Party is calling for more. (Dagsavisen)
- The Revised National Budget has little to offer the average citizen. Nonetheless, 2002 will be a good year for most of us, financially speaking. (Dagbladet)
- The Gender Equality Ombud urges young women to lie if they are ever questioned about family planning in job interviews. Honesty could cost them the job even if their chances otherwise are good. (Aftenposten)
- The Progress Party wants a full account of travel, car, office, entertainment and other expenses covered by Norwegian contributions to the Peres Centre for Peace. In a draft letter reeking of distrust of Terje Rød-Larsen and his wife, Mona Juul, Carl I. Hagen is asking the Storting’s Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs to take up the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Aftenposten)
- NOK 170 million in funding granted by Norway to the Palestinian Authority has contributed to the financing of terrorism, according to Israeli allegations. (Aftenposten)
- It will be cheaper to have a company car if the Government accepts Progress Party support in its efforts to get the Revised National Budget through the Storting. Removing last year’s tax increase on the use of a company car is high on the Progress Party’s list of priorities. (Dagens Næringsliv)
- Since going public, Statoil has paid nearly NOK 24 billion in taxes. The company’s tax rate in the first quarter this year was 72 per cent. (Aftenposten)
- Spanish shipyard Izar has fulfilled 33 per cent of its countertrade obligations to Norwegian industry under its frigate contract with the Norwegian navy. Norwegian subcontractors have supplied NOK 10 billion worth of technology to the project so far. (Dagens Næringsliv)
- Four Norwegian F-16 jet-fighters have been modified to attack ground targets, at an expense of NOK 564 million. Norway will send these planes to Kyrgystan. (Klassekampen)
- Another four hotels in Trondheim have been taken out on strike, and another two will be taken out on Sunday. This will leave few rooms available to guests coming to the city for the upcoming wedding of Princess Märtha Louise and Mr. Ari Behn. Workers at 16 new establishments walked off the job today. 3,480 workers at 100 establishments are now on active strike. (Aftenposten)
Today's comment from Vårt Land
The government’s well-filled money bin has given politicians the means to meet many challenges and grant tax relief as well, though never as much as they would like to. But it’s about time they admitted that as long as they are spending Norway’s oil revenues liberally, the low interest rates hoped for by most people will be out of reach. We reckon that the Government has the economy so well under control that the budget bill is not likely to induce the central bank to raise key rates. But neither is there anything in the bill to nudge interest rates down. Given the fact that the entire Storting also agrees that more oil revenues should be spent every year, the outlook for lower interest rates in the near future is dim indeed. As matters now stand, today’s young families with heavy new mortgages cannot count on any drop in interest rates until the baby-boomers have spent the Petroleum Fund financing their pensions.