The government proposes to remove most special arrangements for refugees regarding pensions and national insurance. In addition, they want to introduce a requirement of five years of residency in order to receive cash benefits.
The government has evaluated the welfare programs for refugees and are about to present their austerity proposals to Parliament.
One of the proposals means that the special provision for refugees in the National Insurance Act is largely repealed.
– It is not fair that immigrants should be able to get better terms than other nationals. Welfare schemes must not discriminate in favour of refugees against Norwegian citizens and other legal residents in Norway, says Minister of Finance Siv Jensen.
One of the main changes is the removal of the exemption from the requirement of 40 years of residency with regards to old-age pensions and disability benefits. This means that the refugees hereafter not automatically receive the minimum pension when they reach pensionable age or automatic disability benefits for chronic diseases.
– By removing special rights for refugees, this group will be treated equally with all other groups in Norway, such as Norwegian citizens returning from long stays abroad, said Minister for work and pensions, Anniken Hauglie to NTB last summer, when the proposals were submitted for consultation.
Refugees over the age of 67 and disabled refugees will instead fall under the system of supplementary benefits, a kind of social benefit system.
This is a scheme that will ensure a minimum income for persons who have reached 67, but has a shorter residency period when they have not been able to work up sufficient retirement pension rights under the national insurance system.
Jensen said the changes in the bill, which according to Nettavisen will be submitted by the Cabinet on Wednesday, will balance the interests of income security for asylum seekers and refugees with the consideration that Norway should not be seen as a particularly attractive country of destination.
– Those who get a residence permit shall be offered adequate and proper arrangements. It is also important that Norway does not have more attractive benefits than other countries. Norway should not be the refugees’ first choice because it is easy to receive social security or other social benefits, she says.
Amendment proposals were submitted for consultation last summer with a deadline of November. Many consultative bodies were very negative to the proposed changes.
Economically these tightening measures will take full effect by 2060. The government estimates by then annual savings of between 2.4 and 4.6 billion kroner.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today