Today, the Norwegian government presented proposals for new, extended financial measures in the total amount of NOK 16 billion. The measures are aimed at young people, students, and furloughed workers, among others.
“‘Throughout the pandemic, we have said that we will do what it takes for Norway to emerge from the crisis in the best position possible. We are using different scenarios for the infection situation going forward and would like to implement measures that are flexible and can be easily adapted to changing developments.
“The stringent infection control measures are very challenging for many people, but the proposals we are presenting today will make the situation a little easier for those who are the hardest hit,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said today.
The measures outlined in this proposition come in addition to a very expansive national budget for 2021. Combined, they will make a substantial contribution to the level of activity and jobs across the country, the government noted.
Sanner: We’re still in the middle of this crisis
“Financial measures will be in place for the duration of the crisis, but it is important that they are adapted to the infection situation at any given time. We are still in the middle of this crisis, and we need to provide security and predictability for those who are suffering most financially.
“At the same time, we need a plan for how to best promote development, change, and growth when society reopens, and the level of activity is back to where it was. When that happens, it will be important for people to get back to work as quickly as possible,” Minister of Finance Jan Tore Sanner (H) accentuated.
The government is particularly focused on minimizing the pandemic’s adverse effects and long-term consequences for children and young people.
“We know that the situation is very challenging for many students and young people who are about to enter the labour market. We, therefore, propose allocating NOK 2.2 billion for measures aimed at children, young people, and students,” Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby (V) added.
A heavy burden
“For some, social distancing and loneliness are a heavy burden to bear. Reduced social contact and loneliness are risk factors for mental health problems and isolation.
“We are now proposing additional measures to combat loneliness among the elderly and for vulnerable children and young people,” Minister of Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad (KRF) noted.
In early January, the government announced a proposal that would introduce adjusted financial measures. The outbreak of the mutated virus in Nordre Follo required highly invasive infection control measures to be introduced in the Oslofjord region from January 23.
This week, the government also introduced the most stringent rules for entry to Norway since March 2020. The measures have led to increased uncertainty about the economy going forward.
Today’s measures are based on updated projections and pertaining infection control measures, vaccination, and the impact on the Norwegian economy.
The government’s long-term strategy for handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergency response plan for infection control measures during the pandemic have formed the basis for its response to the situation.
The government’s goal is to keep the spread of the virus under control at all times so that the infection rates are manageable and do not exceed the capacity of the health and care services and the municipal health service, including for testing, isolation, infection tracing, and quarantine.
The key proposals
The government proposed measures in the amount of NOK 16.3 billion:
- The compensation scheme for businesses that have experienced a dramatic fall in turnover will be extended until the end of June (NOK 4.0 billion)
- Increased allocation to municipalities to compensate local businesses particularly hard hit by the infection control measures. The funds can also be used as an application-based grant scheme for businesses that, in whole or in part, fall outside the framework of the general compensation scheme (NOK 1.0 billion)
- The development and innovation scheme for travel and tourism and the event sector will be extended until the end of June (NOK 1 billion)
- The support scheme for large events open to the general public will be extended until the end of June (NOK 260 million)
- The stimulus and compensation schemes for culture, the voluntary sector, and sport will be extended until September 1 (NOK 650 million)
- Subsidy for Avinor for the first half-year 2021 (NOK 2.75 billion)
- Targeted measures for students to prevent drop-out and delays in their studies (NOK 1.1 billion)
- New, expanded summer school scheme for summer 2021 to help children and young people to make up for lost progress (NOK 500 million)
- Increased efforts aimed at furloughed workers and the long-term unemployed (NOK 1.1 billion)
- Increased innovation grant under the auspices of Innovation Norway (NOK 500 million)
- Temporary sickness benefit rules for employees, freelancers, and self-employed persons in the event of absence related to the coronavirus, extended until the end of June (NOK 660 million)
- Work assessment allowance period for job seekers extended until the end of June (NOK 130 million)
- Quarantine hotel arrangements at border crossings extended with a reduced share of the cost for persons traveling for work. The cost is estimated to NOK 460 million and takes into account possible duration until the end of June 2021. Funds are also proposed for increased border controls and the introduction of a digital entry system.
- Targeted integration measures, such as Norwegian language tuition, introduction program, and information measures aimed at groups of immigrants (NOK 320 million)
- Temporary changes to the requirement for minimum income and minimum reduction in working hours under the unemployment benefit scheme. The cost is estimated to NOK 240 million.
- The compensation scheme for employers’ expenses for entry quarantine for foreign labor is extended until the end of April (NOK 240 million)
- Testing in quarantine hotels and at border crossings (NOK 203 million)
- National phone center to assist the municipalities with entry registration (NOK 75 million)
- Temporary scheme involving postponement of tax payments extended until the end of June, except VAT claims that fall due after April 12 (NOK 200 million)
- Flexible educational provision at tertiary vocational colleges, university colleges, and universities (NOK 140 million)
- Measures aimed at apprentices in spring 2021 (NOK 100 million)
- Purchase of passenger transport by train to take account of reduced ticket revenues as a consequence of the infection control measures (NOK 100 million)
Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews / Office of the Prime Minister / Ministry of Children and Families / Ministry of Education and Research / Ministry of Finance
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