Opposition: spring budget short sighted

Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson's spring budget is optimistic, with forecasts of GDP growth and a steady decline in unemployment, but members of Sweden's political opposition say it fails to address the nation's long-term problems.

Many politicians on the right called the supplementary bill, which details a national economic forecast as well as adjustments to the current budget, short-sighted and claimed the center-left government lucked out by having favorable economic growth while in power.

Ulf Kristersson, economic spokesman for the conservative Moderate Party, said the budget's large expenditures are not backed up with stable financing or that they fail to meet the challenges they aim to tackle.

"The government has systematically lost its grip on public finances. This is not sustainable," said Kristersson, adding that the government seemed more intent on doling out cash than making Swedes self-sufficient. "In Magdalena Andersson's Sweden, it is easy to get benefits but difficult to get a job. In my Sweden, it's the opposite."

Speaking about the additional billions going to municipalities in the coming years to help with welfare and education costs, Kristersson said: "The annual increase in costs is many times greater than the SEK 10 billion (the government is) allocating to municipalities and it will force out everything else that we want to do if we don't do anything about it."

Also on the right, the Liberal Party's economic spokesman Erik Ullenhag accused the Social Democrat-Green Party government of emptying Sweden's coffers and jeopardizing its welfare system.

"Although we are in an economic boom, you're developing labor market policy programs because you don't dare to do anything about the structural problems in the market," Ullenhag said.

The Left Party, which is supporting the ruling Social Democrat-Green coalition government's budget, fired back. It said the government was finally funding sectors long in need of investments.

"We're getting SEK 10 billion for welfare; it's the largest welfare investment since 1993," said the party's economic spokeswoman Ulla Andersson.

The spring budget allows the government to revise its annual budget and will be voted on by parliament in June. It is expected to pass since the four opposition parties that make up the Alliance coalition said they will vote for their own individual budgets, giving the government's proposal a majority.