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Reinfeldt Speaks Out On "Nannygate."

Published torsdag 19 oktober 2006 kl 10.42
Fredrik Reinfeldt

Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has spoken out in defence of two of his ministers under pressure to resign in the controversy over unpaid taxes.

Reinfeldt, who heads a centre-right coalition that took power two weeks ago, has had a nightmarish start as prime minister as newspapers print daily admissions of guilt from politicians – but also culture and media personalities – that they have broken the law either by paying babysitters and cleaners cash-in-hand or not paying their obligatory television license fees.

Earlier this week, trade minister Maria Borelius and culture minister Cecilia Stegoe Chilo were forced to quit their jobs just a week after a media frenzy into their personal finances revealed that they were guilty of both offences.

In Sweden, wages execeeding 10,000 kronor a year, that’s 1,350 dollars, must be declared to the tax authorities, and such, there’s a large black market for services.

Now though Reinfeldt has stood by migration minister Tobias Billström, and finance minister Anders Borg, and said firing them would signal to Swedes that anyone who bent the rules, however slightly, to make ends meet could forget about a career in politics. Borg paid his baby sitter in cash and admitted that he hired a cleaner from Poland in the mid-nineties who didn’t have a work permit, while Billström refused to pay his tv license fee for ten years because of ideological reasons.

Reinfeldt said ”there are no flawless people.”

Surveys show about one-third of Swedes have bought ”black market services,” mostly for cleaning, painting or carpentry jobs. Hiring a cleaner legally costs around 300 kronor an hour, including taxes, while a black market hire will do the job for less than 100 kronor tax free. Reinfeldt’s government has promised to lower taxes on ”household services.

”What this is about, and many parents in Sweden know this, is that a mother and father who try to juggle kids with two careers often notice that they occasionally need a babysitter’s help and that in this country there isn’t really a legal and functioning services system available,” Reinfeldt said.

”If I were to pass judgement on every parent in this country who paid cash for a babysitter’s help and say to them that they could never hold any form of office ... then I don’t know what kind of snowball that would start,” he said.

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