Ambitions for Norway
On the Edge: An opinion column about current issues in Norway
by Siv Jensen for the Norwegian American Weekly
While Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg talks about not having raised taxes since his Red-Green coalition government came into office in 2005, the truth is that Norwegian families and businesses are paying NOK 300 billion more in taxes in 2012 compared to 2005. For the Progress Party, which was founded to reduce taxes and government intervention, the development is worrying.
NOK 300 billion (approximately USD 50.5 billion) in increased state revenue in only seven years is a lot of money! We should all be asking ourselves; how will the money be spent? What is Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s ambitious plan for our country? How will he exploit this scope of action? Unfortunately, there is no plan, and most of our money will go directly to administration and bureaucracy.
Just before Christmas, the Progress Party presented our alternative state budget. Our main concern with the government’s proposed budget is the lack of visions and new ideas. Our alternative budget is a response to that. We presented our solutions and our priorities for our country’s opportunities and challenges. We want to stimulate productivity and the creation of value, to increase participation in the labour force, to improve infrastructure and to focus on research and development. We have to become better at nourishing entrepreneurship and start-up businesses. Ideas created in Norway should to a greater degree also be commercialized in Norway. This will make our country better equipped for becoming a knowledge-based nation.
Our current strong economic position should be exploited in order to increase our production capacity and hence our future welfare. The Progress Party has proposed to reduce both state revenue and expenditure in order to down-size our massive state. This will lead to a more business friendly environment and a more lean and effective public sector.
Norway needs a more modern and dynamic economy. The Progress Party alternative budget cuts taxes by NOK 21 billion and slims down the public sector by NOK 15 billion. We are using marginally more petroleum money than the government, but we are within the budgetary rule.
Number one priority in our alternative budget is infrastructure, to which NOK 15 billion is allocated. We will not give up until we can be proud of the Norwegian infrastructure. And we can accomplish this without road tolls or other unfair charges.
Number two priority in the Progress Party alternative budget is health. NOK 2.5 billion is allocated to secure faster patient treatment. Healthy people work and pay their taxes, while people waiting for treatment don’t. Our priority is therefore to reduce waiting lists. In addition, we are strengthening the focus on welfare to work programs to reduce the number of people living on welfare.
Number three priority is the police. Compared to the government’s proposed budget, the Progress Party alternative budget allocates 470 million NOK more to the police. The tragic events of 22.07.11 have shown that the police is in need of more resources. We need more visible and better equipped police on the streets.
The bottle necks in our economy must be removed in order to strengthen our competitiveness and our value creation. When representatives of the World Bank recently visited the Norwegian Parliament, their main advice was for Norway to improve the infrastructure. Improved infrastructure will benefit society and increase productivity. Instead of being trapped in traffic jams, our workers should be building schools, hospitals and roads!
The Prime Minister accuses the Progress Party of being irresponsible when we propose to spend more of our petroleum wealth on infrastructure. He says it will create inflation. Yet, the state-owned energy company Statkraft is granted oil money to invest in windmills! How is it that roads create inflation while windmills don’t?
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his government have spent the last seven years administrating Norway without any overreaching plan for the future of our country. Still, the bureaucracy has gotten bigger and bigger by the year and ordinary Norwegians are financing it all by paying more and more taxes. I say it’s time to change the course. The Progress Party has ambitions for Norway. We have shown in our alternative budget that another way is possible; smaller government, less bureaucracy, fewer taxes and a lean and efficient public sector. The parliamentary election is in less than two years and I am looking forward to it!
Siv Jensen is the Leader of the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) and also the parliamentary leader for the Progress Party’s group in the Storting (The Norwegian Parliament). The classical liberal (libertarian-conservative) Progress Party is the second largest party in the Storting and the leading opposition party. Ms. Jensen has been elected member of the Storting since 1997, representing the district of Oslo. Ms. Jensen is member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and member of the Enlarged Foreign Affairs Committee.
Please bear in mind that opinions expressed in “On The Edge” are not necessarily those of the Norwegian American Weekly, and our publication of these views are not an endorsement of them.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 27, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.