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Why Norway’s government wants to slash the use of oil money

Norway's government will stem the flow of oil money into public coffers to try and curb inflation, Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said Tuesday. 

Pictured is an oil platform in the North Sea.
Norway's Finance Minister has said that the government will cut down the use of oil spending. Pictured is an oil platform in the North Sea. Photo by Dean Brierley on Unsplash

Norway’s Finance Minister, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, has said that the government will slow the spending of oil money to help curb inflation and keep interest rates under control. 

“We must do what we can to bring inflation under control,” Vedum said during a speech. 

Money generated from oil revenues is used by the government in Norway to top-up public spending. The money is drawn from the Government Pension Fund, the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. There is more than 11 trillion kroner currently in the fund

READ MORE: What does Norway do with its oil money? 

Cutting oil funding is seen as a measure that can help curb inflation and rising interest rates. In August, Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, raised the key interest rate by 0.5 percent. 

The country’s key interest rate has risen from zero percent last year to 1.75 percent in August. Norges Bank has already announced another interest rate in September. 

Vedum added that decreasing oil spending could help prevent low and middle-income families from feeling the squeeze. 

“The easiest thing for politicians is to spend a lot of money on all sorts of things. But then we know that the pace of the economy will pick up even more and that will put further pressure on prices, and it affects those with the lowest and medium incomes, and a number of smaller and vulnerable businesses,” Vedum. 

Unemployment was also something that Trygve Slagsvold Vedum was wary of ahead of the government unveiling the budget later this fall. 

“History shows that after a period of high price growth comes a period of high unemployment. This government will avoid that at all costs,” he said. 

Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, has echoed similar thoughts and said this year’s budget would be “tight and fair”. 

“There are new expenses that we must take in in a responsible way by creating a good state budget for the country and people, and we are well on our way to doing that. This is going to be a tight and fair budget,” he said. 

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POLITICS

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Finland has said it has seen a surge in people at its border after Moscow's military call-up announcement. So, what is the situation like at Norway's shared border with Russia? 

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Last week, Russia announced that it would draft new conscriptions as part of a further mobilisation in Ukraine. 

This has led to an exodus of Russian citizens trying to leave the country and avoid being drafted into the military. 

Finland said on Monday that more Russians entered the country over the weekend than in any other this year so far after Moscow’s military call-up announcement caused a surge in arrivals.

“Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the year for traffic on the eastern border,” Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.

The border agency said nearly 8,600 Russians entered Finland via the land border on Saturday, and nearly 4,200 crossed the other way.

Neighbouring Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but is in the Schengen area, also reported a slight increase in crossings from Russia at its Storskog border crossing in the far north.

On Sunday, 243 people entered Norway from Russia, of which 167 had Schengen visas, while 91 left for Russia, according to Norwegian police. The police also stressed that these figures are still lower than the number seen before Covid, but said they expect a possible further increase this week.

Earlier this year, there were media reports that Russians were using Storskog to try and circumnavigate a European-wide flight ban

And last week, A visa agreement for travel between Norway and Russia was suspended. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes that the typical rules for applying for a visa to enter Norway will now apply to Russian citizens.

New visa rules mean that the documentation required to apply will be tightened, multiple-entry visas won’t be issued as part of one application, processing times will go up, and fees will also increase.  

READ MORE: Norway suspends visa agreement with Russia

Norwegian newspaper VG reports that this is among a string of measures the UDI has taken to tighten the rules for obtaining a visa as a Russian citizen. 

Norway’s immigration directorate told VG that tourist visas and those to visit friends would be rejected in most cases. Visa applications are being rejected as there are doubts over whether the applicant would return to Russia upon the visa’s expiration. 

Additionally, Russian citizens were moved to the orange visa group. 

“In the orange group, parents, children, and spouses will generally receive visas, while it is more natural to refuse applications for siblings, distant relatives and boyfriends. It will also be more difficult, but not impossible, to get a visa for business trips and visits with a cultural purpose,” Håvard Sætre from the UDI told the Norwegian newspaper VG

Russians are still able to apply for asylum in Norway. However, to apply, they will need to physically reach Norway first. In 2022, 219 Russian citizens have applied for asylum in Norway. 

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