Opposition attacks Norway’s new corona crisis package: “Young people and municipalities left behind”

Jonas Gahr StørePhoto: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB

Labor party leader (AP) Jonas Gahr Støre believes that the Norwegian government’s crisis package, presented on Monday, does not hold up on several points.

“There are several adequate measures for industries that are struggling, but there are no labor market measures aimed at young people that can give them opportunities to recover faster,” Støre told news bureau NTB.

“The young people who have dropped out of the labor market often face a longer way back. If we are to wait for the state budget, we will not start until January 1. That is a waste of time and opportunities will be lost,” he added.

On Monday, Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner (H) presented a new autumn crisis package totaling NOK 6.1 billion to counteract the economic consequences of the coronavirus.

Extended redundancy periods, wage support for companies, one and a half billion kroner for public transport, and billions for culture, sports, volunteering, and tourism were among the key measures.

Supporting trainees

Recent Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) figures show that the proportion of those completely unemployed is far higher among women and men under the age of 30 than in the general population.

Støre is clear on what he had wanted for the young people in the crisis package.

“Firstly, is to ensure that the laid-off trainees return to their education,” he noted.

“The old system of labor market measures, which has worked in previous crises, is a system that the government has virtually abolished.

Both the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) have pointed out that labor market measures aimed at getting people back to work work. But you must invest in them,” Støre stated.

“We have received interesting input from a number of leading companies in Kongsberg, Raufoss, and Mo i Rana about what they can do to prevent loss of contact with those who are laid off.

I think one has to be more inventive in looking at schemes that can ensure in-house training and competence building during the time people are “on the outside,” he added.

More to the municipalities

Støre also accused the government of turning a blind eye to the municipalities’ situation.

“When you contact the municipalities today, they have specific cut lists for basic welfare services such as schools and welfare.

The municipalities also have an important role to play when it comes to economic activity, through what they demand. When the economy is bad, there is less activity,” he added.

This spring, the Norwegian parliament (Storting) reached a broad agreement on most crisis packages.

But in June, the government leaned on the Progress Party (FRP) to get a majority for the so-called phase 3 package.

Lysbakken: The package is antisocial

The latest crisis package will also likely be pushed through with the FRP, which was a part of Erna Solberg’s government until January of this year.

Socialist left (SV) leader Audun Lysbakken calls the package antisocial and believes it undermines the social arrangements that SV and the Storting got in place this spring.

“Soon, many of the schemes that keep people going will be gone,” he told news bureau NTB.

“The government does still not understand that Norway is in crisis. The tourism industry is getting more, but thousands of other companies are getting less help.

Companies and the self-employed throughout the country are now being thrown into the cold,” he warned.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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