Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum reacts with disbelief to the billion-dollar cuts the Conservative Party will make in the revised national budget. The Conservatives think Vedum is spinning.

After the government today passed its revised national budget, the Conservative Party has come forward with its alternative. The Conservative Party’s proposal calls for many cuts, including in the government’s spending on ferries.

Finance Minister Vedum reacts strongly to the Conservative Party’s moves, especially with regard to the ferries.

NTB reports on the case.

The cut they are making now is a targeted ferry cut. We put in extra money because we were particularly concerned about the counties, for example for ferries and fast boats along the coast to tie Norway together. The reason is that the costs of operating ferries have increased, says Vedum (Sp) to NTB.

He adds:

We are concerned that the ferries will not run. If you cut NOK 1.1 billion, then the alternative is to cut the ferry service, or possibly raising prices. We believe that it is completely wrong and have introduced free ferries on many routes, says Vedum.

The Finance Minister also points out that the Conservative Party will increase CO2 taxes by NOK 150 million in its budget. That will increase the pump price, he says.

The Conservative Party has long criticised the government for spending too much oil money in the budget and itself plans to use NOK 5.2 billion less oil kroner compared to the government’s original proposal.

Vedum is not impressed

After seeing Høyre’s proposal, Vedum is unimpressed.

The Conservatives have run and boasted that they will implement cuts. Those who have to pay the cuts are the country’s ferry passengers. We put a little more money into the counties than the municipalities, precisely because we saw increased costs for ferries.

He believes that the Conservative Party’s alternative budget is in line with the policy of Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg in government. It implies that she is not particularly concerned with the districts.

I completely disagree with Erna Solberg that the ferry service is too good and that it should be cut, says Vedum.

Accuses Vedum of spin

Liv Kari Eskeland in the Conservative Party’s transport committee reacts to Vedum’s move.

This is pure ferry spin on Vedum’s part. Even if we make cuts in the transfers to the county councils, which have large disposal funds on their books, there is an expectation that the county councils will also help take their share of the responsibility and reduce bureaucracy and administration, she says in an email to NTB.

Vedum does not mention anything about this, but it is a prerequisite in our budget. It will be completely unreasonable for the business world to bleed, and for the county councils to continue their operations without an expectation of efficiency being set, she says.

She believes the county politicians know their region best.

That Vedum believes this will go beyond the ferry service alone shows how little trust he has in the county politicians, says Eskeland.

What makes the Conservative Party’s alternative budget extra interesting at the moment is that, in all polls, the Conservative Party would take over government power if there were an election.

The Høyre’s alternative budgets are therefore a taste of what can probably be expected in two years after the next general election, if the trend in the surveys holds.

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