"Foreign Ministry cuts could save embassies"

A  study of the Swedish Foreign Ministry claims that major savings can be made by streamlining the work and reducing the number of bosses - making  unnecessary plans to close down a long list of embassies.

The study ordered by the Swedish Parliament concludes that the ministry is too large, that international development assistance should have its own ministry and that the foreign trade portfolio should be moved to the Ministry for Industry and Commerce.

It also calls for a reduction in the number of managers, the end of life-time employment and the recruiting of embassy personnel from other ministries and the social sector instead of only through the Foreign Ministry.

The center-right government has announced plans to close a number of embassies including the mission in Vietnam - sparking criticism that Sweden would lose a great deal of good will, valuable contacts and years of positive image building because of foreign assistance.

The announcements of cuts in embassies came after the opposition won a vote in parliament forcing the minority government to make cuts in staff - insisting that a small nation like Sweden does not need the large government staff desired by the government, which expanded the number of ministries after winning last September's elections.

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