Sweden's 2024 budget: tax cuts, welfare boost amid inflation fears

Sweden's government promised tax cuts and more money for welfare, defence and the criminal justice system in its 2024 budget on Wednesday
FILE PHOTO: A Swedish flag hangs outside a store on a busy street as visitors walk past in the background in the old town of Stockholm, Sweden, July 14, 2023
FILE PHOTO: A Swedish flag hangs outside a store on a busy street as visitors walk past in the background in the old town of Stockholm, Sweden, July 14, 2023 REUTERS/Tom Little/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's government promised tax cuts and more money for welfare, defence and the criminal justice system in its 2024 budget on Wednesday, but said spending had to be limited by the need to keep a lid on inflation.

"Sweden remains in an economic winter and in a difficult security situation," Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said in a statement.

"The government is prioritising fighting inflation and supporting households and welfare."

The budget includes a hike in in-work tax credits and a cut of fuel duties to help those hardest hit by rising prices and interest rates.

Local authorities will get an additional 16 billion crowns ($1.43 billion) so they can maintain welfare services while pensioners will see slightly lower taxes.

Since taking power last year, the right-of-centre coalition has also faced an uncertain international environment. Sweden's application to join NATO, made after Russia's invasion of Ukraine has stalled and Koran burnings by demonstrators have stirred up anger across the Muslim world.

Svantesson said defence spending would rise next year as Sweden moves to meet NATO's target of 2% of GDP. The government has previously said the total increase will be 27 billion Swedish crowns in 2024.

The police and criminal justice system get an additional boost.

Most of the measures, expected to increase overall spending by around 39 billion crowns next year, have already been announced.

($1 = 11.1506 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander, Editing by Nick Zieminski and Niklas Pollard)

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