Earlier this week, reports from a meeting of local leaders in Troms suggested that the party wanted Norway to follow the controversial line adopted by southern neighbour Denmark by confiscating jewellery and other valuable items from refugees.
But parliamentary leader Harald T. Nesvik has now moved to reject suggestions that the Progress Party wishes to adopt the policy. However, Nesvik said it is fair to ask refugees who have savings to pay for their stay in Norway.
“When somebody on Norway claims welfare benefits, the type of savings they have will be assessed. There could be many coming to Norway with savings, so I think we should assess whether they should pay towards some of the actual costs incurred while we review their case,” Nesvik told Nettavisen.
On Tuesday, Denmark approved a controversial law that allows authorities to confiscate cash and valuables worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner from asylum seekers.
Progress spokesman Mazyar Keshvari previously told broadcaster NRK that Denmark's policy was a reasonable demand. But Nesvik has now dismissed the suggestion that his party wants to confiscate valuable items.
“We have not dealt with any proposal related to this case, and Progress has never said that we want to wait at the border and take people’s jewellery,” Nesvik told Nettavisen.
PM Erna Solberg made it clear that Norway would not be copying Denmark's much-discussed bill.
“It's not current Norwegian policy. One can be both rich and persecuted according to the Refugee Convention. That should be a fundamental principle for our treatment [of asylum seekers],” she told NTB.
At the same time, the PM said that asylum seekers in Norway won't necessarily have access to all of the country's free services if they have the ability to pay themselves.
Solberg's Conservative Party (Høyre), the Liberals (Venstre) the Centre Party, the Socialist Left Party, Labour, the Green Party and the Christian Democrats all distanced themselves from Denmark's 'jewellery law'.