Employment service mismanagement

IF Metall chair Anders Ferbe and Anders Weihe, the chief negotiator at the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries, are calling for a review, following the news that the Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) has failed to offer training in shortage occupations. Weihe goes so far as to say that the public agency should be disbanded.

120 billion to electrify roads

Sweden is currently testing electrified roads in a real-life environment. In one trial, a rail that allows vehicles to collect current is being installed in the asphalt near Arlanda Airport, and in a second trial, on the outskirts of Gävle, an overhead conductive line that can be used to power trucks is being constructed.

The trials are at an early stage, but PostNord hopes that a commercial solution will be in place by mid-2017 which will allow the mail delivery company to drive electric trucks on the road between the Rosersberg terminal and Arlanda’s freight centre.

In addition to PostNord, Volvo, Scania, NCC and the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) are also involved in the trials. Current estimates indicate that it would cost around 120 billion kronor to electrify Sweden’s network of motorways and country roads.

Expert warns of alternative

With a new high-speed rail track projected to cost between 190 and 320 billion kronor, the government is considering the possibility of upgrading the main railway lines instead, and has charged the Swedish Transport Administration (Transportverket) to look at alternatives to the high-speed project.

However, Bo-Lennart Nelldal, professor emeritus in rail traffic planning at the Royal Institute of Technology, warns that it will be more expensive to repair the existing tracks than to invest in a new main line.

FSA proposes climate change stress tests

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) has proposed that the country’s banks should stress test their risk of major financial loss, which could result from climate change.

For instance, the banks should review how their borrowing and assets would be affected if there were a hike in the price of emission rights, or if fossil assets such as oil and gas could not be extracted as a result of tougher regulation.

Sweden pays second-highest amount

Following deductions for subsidies and benefits, residents of Sweden pay the second highest fee to the EU, according to a survey by europaportalen.se, which has found that each Swedish resident paid the equivalent of 2,600 kronor to Brussels in 2014.

Residents of the Netherlands pay the most; EU membership cost the equivalent of 3,600 kronor last year. Belgium ranks third, according to the website, with each resident paying just over 2,400 kronor.

Ryanair CEO opposes plans

Sweden’s Green Party has long advocated a tax on airline tickets, suggesting a levy of SKr 110 for short-haul EU flights, and of SKr 270 for long-haul flights. The Social Democrats have been indifferent to the idea, but the government has in any case appointed a commission of inquiry, which in the autumn will suggest how to design such a tax.

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has slammed the plans, which he describes as crazy. He says airline passengers will abandon Sweden as a tourist destination, if the Greens’ plans are realised: “You have good football teams and beautiful women, but otherwise there is no reason to come to Sweden,” he remarks.

High-speed rail scheme cost set to soar

Sweden’s high-speed railway risks devouring half of all investment in infrastructure for a long time to come, notes Lena Erixon, the director general of the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket).

Appropriations will need to be increased by as much as SKr 10-15 billion annually, otherwise other important projects are likely to be affected, she warns.

Optimism among firms

The National Institute of Economic Research (NIER) published its economic tendency survey on Tuesday. The indicator climbed 1.6 points from 110.3 in December to 111.9 in January, with the manufacturing indicator rising sharply from 115.1 to 120.8.

Swedish firms continue to be confident about the economy. Consumers are more pessimistic than usual about the economy, but are more upbeat about their personal finances.

According to Nordea, the economic tendency indicator is at its highest in over five years, and on a par with a 6% rate of growth in the economy. However, Mats Dillon, head of NIER, says the strong manufacturing indicator, which pulled up the overall indicator, should be taken with a “pinch of salt”.

Higher unemployment forecast

Sweden may well have to live with an unemployment rate of over 7 percent in the longer term, warns the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen). Describing the government’s unemployment goal as unrealistic, the agency says unemployment will fall in the next two years but then rise again as a result of immigration