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‘Deregulate housing market,’ IMF urges Sweden

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on Sweden’s government to deregulate the country’s housing market.

The government has already proposed abolishing rent controls on newly produced properties as part of a cross-bloc deal the ruling Social Democrats and Green Party made with the Centre and Liberal parties, whose support was needed to break a months-long political deadlock.

This move was welcomed by the IMF in its annual evaluation of the Swedish economy, but it also said that “more fundamental reforms” are needed in order to deal with the national housing shortage.

The organization suggested that one way of moving gradually towards deregulation would be to introduce market rental prices each time a new tenant moves in.

FOR MEMBERS: How to navigate Sweden’s crazy rental market

This would likely lead to substantial increases in the cost of rent, so the IMF also proposed measures to compensate for this, such as increased housing benefits and taxes on properties.

And it added: “To help reduce market rents more quickly, rental supply should be increased, such as by reducing impediments to subletting and to households renting out their own apartments, while containing potential macrofinancial risks.”

Housing prices in Sweden fell by six percent towards the end of 2017 following years of steady growth, but stabilized over the past year. The IMF noted that in highly populated areas, prices remain high compared to household incomes, making it hard for many people to buy homes.

This, combined with the long queues for rent-controlled apartments, pushes people towards expensive sublets or alternative rentals, particularly in the younger age group and foreign-born demographic.

“These barriers to labour mobility weigh on Swedish productivity and incomes, and raise inequality across regions and between generations,” the organization said, emphasizing the need for affordable housing.

The IMF report also addressed fiscal and labour market policy, and praised government efforts to integrate more foreign-born people into the workforce through policies such as jobs that combine work and training.

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Local footballer jets off to Sweden

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spiring soccer star, Orlin Petersen from Southfield, is excited to be heading to Sweden to participate in the Gothia Cup in July.

For Petersen, this is the fruit of his love for soccer that he has carried in his heart for years.“I am blessed with very good support, with my family encouraging me at all times. I can say it all took hard work, discipline, focus and determination to get here.”

He is currently training hard and is even taking advantage of the Argus Cycling Tour taking place next month to stay fit and ready for the overseas game.

Petersen also praised his team, Tramway FC, which has made it possible for him to fulfil his passion and share “love to win.”

His love for soccer was inspired by his father who used to play and at a later stage became a coach and chairperson of a team.

“It started at an early age. I used to attend all sessions and training with the soccer team my father used to coach.”

However, Petersen said, another reason to stay committed in soccer is to keep away from social ills and he is hoping to be a good example in his community. He has even taken it upon himself to help his family raise the R25 000 needed for the overseas trip. For the past few months, they have been hosting a series of events to this end. The next event coming up is a disco that will take place on Friday 8 March at Square Hill Hall in Retreat from 19:00.

“Due to crimes in our community, I want to encourage other youngsters to see that anything is possible, but I can only achieve this with the support of the community. And I thank all those that have come out to support me so far.”

V For more information about supporting Petersen, call 076 348 4202.

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Sweden’s grid operator plans $1.4 bn investments in 2020-2022

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OSLO: Sweden‘s grid operator Svenska Kraftnat plans to spend 13 billion Swedish crowns ($1.40 billion) on electricity grid investments over the next three years, it said on Tuesday.

The grid’s business plan, for the years 2020-2022, was submitted to the Swedish government and the investment budget it contains is devoted to strengthen its backbone network and transmission capacity.

“The core network needs to be expanded in step with the development of society and so that political ambitions can be fulfilled without the network constituting a strong limiting factor,” said its acting director Lotta Medelius-Bredhe.

About 4.35 billion crowns of the suggested investments relate to 2020, said the firm, adding that the plan will include an increased proportion of projects with large information technology content.

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Sweden’s former prime minister just dragged Bernie Sanders for this Soviet love fest

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) loves Sweden. One of its former leaders doesn’t exactly love him.

The 2020 contender has spent a lot of time praising Sweden and other Nordic countries for their policies focused on the working class. But in a Monday morning tweet, Sweden’s ex-prime minister Carl Bildt took direct aim at a 1988 speech, in which Sanders lauded a far more socialist nation.

In the speech, then-congressman Sanders touted the “very very effective” transportation system, “chandeliers that were beautiful,” and puppet shows he saw on a visit to the Soviet Union. The conservative Bildt sarcastically called out these “stunning socialist achievements” in his tweet, before mentioning that the socialist state later “collapsed under the weight of its own spectacular failures.”

During the 2016 election cycle, Sanders’ Scandinavian praise prompted then-presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to suggest Sanders would be “a really good candidate for president — of Sweden.” He’s only running for U.S. president right now, but it looks like he doesn’t have Bildt’s endorsement for either office. Kathryn Krawczyk

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