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Norway registers public spending deficit for first time since 1990s

Norway has registered a deficit of 83 billion kroner in its public finances for the second quarter of 2020.

Norway registers public spending deficit for first time since 1990s
Photo: Marius Niveri on Unsplash

The figure represents the first time since 1994 that the Norwegian state has been in the red in its quarterly accounts, according to Statistics Norway (SSB).

“The numbers are uncertain and may be revised. But as things stand now, we are probably looking at a quarter with a loss in public administration,” SSB section director Pål Sletten said in a statement.

“In such case, this would be the first time (a quarterly deficit has occurred) since 1994,” Sletten said.

A deficit in Norway’s public finances is measured by net investments using state funds. The first quarter of 2020 saw a surplus of 22 billion kroner.

Reasons for the drastic downturn include a drop in oil and tax revenues and increased spending in response to the coronavirus crisis.

“State revenues have fallen and expenses have increased. The public sector has thereby protected the private sector from most of the decline in national income,” Sletten said.

“The counterweight to that is that the state has gone from saving to deficit for the first time in very a long time,” he added.

Norway averaged a surplus of 10.7 percent of GDP in its public finances from 2002 to 2019.

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SAS

‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers. 

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