Monday, January 24

Calls for crisis help for the business community: – Not a situation that can continue

Sveinung Rotevatn (V) calls for rapid corona support to the business community, following a stream of cancellations. – The government seems to be completely paralyzed, he says.

Storting representative Sveinung Rotevatn (V).

Published:

The Norwegian economy has to a large extent recovered after the corona crash last year, and the activity level is back to normal.

But now new uncertainty has arisen. A comprehensive outbreak of infection with the new corona variant omikron leads to new, intrusive infection control measures throughout the country.

Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre (Labor Party) was on Friday in a meeting with the parties in working life, represented by LO leader Peggy Hessen Følsvik, NHO chief Ole Erik Almlid and Virke chief Ivar Horneland Kristensen.

– We must have some ice in the stomach, the Minister of Trade and Industry said at a press conference after the meeting.

At the meeting, LO called for a wage support scheme, while NHO and Virke wanted to reintroduce the national compensation scheme, which was discontinued in October.

– We will of course listen to and evaluate them, says Vestre to VG / E24.

NHO chief Ole Erik Almlid is pleased to have had a quick meeting, and understands that he did not immediately receive an answer about the compensation scheme.

– It was a good meeting, said Almlid.

– We did not receive any signal about how this will be taken forward immediately. We just have to take into account that they need some time, and then I hope that they come back quickly with the message that they are introducing a national compensation scheme, says Almlid.

– Seems to be paralyzed

Former Minister of Climate Sveinung Rotevatn (V) now sits on the Storting’s finance committee. He believes it is urgent to put in place support schemes, and supports the demands from NHO and LO.

– I think the requirements from LO and NHO seem reasonable, and can be a good way to do this. The main challenge is that the government seems to be completely paralyzed and has no idea what to do, says Rotevatn to E24.

– The government now comes with half-hearted shows, and suggests that people should preferably not go to Christmas parties, but then they say that you should do it anyway. It creates great uncertainty that is now propagating into the business world, says Rotevatn.

– Extremely pressured

Rotevatn points out that cultural events and Christmas dinners are now canceled, without the employees and the business community having any safety net.

– This is not a situation that can continue. Either the government must say that people can carry out events, or they must be clear about the measures and provide support to the business community, he says.

– These are industries that are under enormous pressure, and for many, the Christmas table season is absolutely central to survival. If the government then suggests that one should not go to the Christmas table, but at the same time does not provide money to compensate for people now dropping the Christmas table, then it will be an unsustainable situation, he says.

Among other things, the Liberal Party believes that more money must come before Christmas to the local compensation scheme, where so far there is NOK 200 million.

– The West must get its finger out immediately and put in place the arrangements needed. Last year, we managed in record time to get money in place for the municipalities between the state budget and Christmas. Something like that could be done now as well. It is certainly possible, and I think the Storting is ready to do this, says Rotevatn.

Storting representative Tina Bru (H).

– Careful to call this a crisis

Former Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru (H) now sits on the Finance Committee. She does not want to immediately reintroduce the compensation scheme for the business community.

– The government must be prepared to take measures if necessary. We will wait a bit, and it depends a bit on what measures we are talking about, says Bru.

– We should be a little careful about calling this a crisis already now. The labor market is well on its way to recovery. So if one comes up with schemes now, it is important that they hit in a way that does not prevent people from taking jobs in a job market that needs people. There are a lot of vacancies, she says.

– The fact that we see many Christmas tables being canceled, what do you think about that?

– It is very sad that we are in that situation. I think there is a lot of uncertainty now about what the new virus variant means in terms of health, and I understand that measures are needed. But it is a pity that it affects the same industry that is already severely exposed, says Bru.

– If the business community now suffers large losses, we must consider reintroducing the measures that our government took, or other measures. I expect the government to consider all types of measures that the business community and the trade union movement are now lifting, says Bru.

She is open to dialogue about replenishing money in the local compensation scheme.

– We are open to discuss all instruments, she says.

– And then I think it is paradoxical that we now run and discuss compensation to the business community, at the same time as the government parties and SV have decided to send the business community a pre-Christmas gift with tax increases of ten billion kroner, says Bru.

Want action before Christmas

The Progress Party believes that the state compensation scheme for companies in crisis should be reintroduced.

– Frp expects that schemes that ensure companies and workers who are now affected, will be in place already before Christmas, says Roy Steffensen (Frp), who also sits on the finance committee, to NTB.

The cancellations hail in, he points out.

– Then the government should already now signal that companies should be compensated if the new outbreak hits them hard. The governing parties were quick to criticize the previous government for bringing packages of measures too late, and now they are doing exactly the same thing themselves, he says.

– Do not freeze completely either

Rødt’s Mimir Kristjansson thinks the government forgets ordinary workers. He calls for an extension of the two special corona schemes for the laid-off, which expire at New Year.

During the pandemic, the maximum period for unemployment benefits has been extended. This scheme will be discontinued on 1 January. This also reduces the unemployment benefit rate.

– Everyone agrees that the pandemic is not over. But at the same time, the government has decided that the crisis is over for the unemployed. Then people will fall out of the schemes, Kristjansson says to E24.

– Vestre said that we must have ice in the stomach. But we must not freeze completely either, he says.

Kristjansson believes that the measures aimed at the unemployed must last as long as the measures aimed at companies.

– It is special that we have spent billions on companies, while ordinary people are in danger of losing again. We have a new government that has promised a different course for the country than the previous one, but it seems that they need a new kick behind, he says.

Rødt is positive to LO’s demands for a wage support scheme, but will make demands to preserve the spirit of hard work.

– We have seen what happens if we do not make demands, so now specific demands must be made that large dividends and bonuses are not paid out, says Kristjansson.

also read

LO will ask the government for a wage subsidy scheme

– Has made a move

The Minister of Trade and Industry emphasizes that the authorities have so far only introduced infection control measures. He asks people to breathe with their stomachs so that not all business activities stop.

– Do not stop going to shops, says Vestre.

– Use the cities, use the villages within the infection control measures that have been introduced, he says.

also read

Statistics Norway sees new uncertainty after the omicron, but limited negative effect

Criticism of compensation scheme

There has been sharp criticism of the state compensation scheme which lasted until the end of October this year.

Several economists have thought that the scheme has been inaccurate, have shifted too much risk from the business community to the state, and have favored capital owners at the expense of taxpayers.

The criticism has, among other things, been triggered by E24’s survey of how things went with the companies that received cash support in 2020. The survey has shown that:

  • Half of the companies that received support had a better annual result in 2020 than in 2019
  • More than half of the companies that received support in 2020 were able to repay the entire amount of support and still avoid losses
  • In total, more than two billion kroner could have been repaid, without the companies that received support ending up in the red

E24’s survey has also shown that at least NOK 722 million has been sent in dividends to foreign owners, from companies that received support from the Norwegian state to get through the pandemic.

also read

Less faith in raising interest rates after Omikron: – Maybe it’s better to wait and see?

Reference-www.aftenposten.no

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