Increased number of asylum-seeker arrivals, Supplementary Proposition for the 2016 budget
“In September Norway received a larger number of asylum-seekers than in the entire first half of the year, giving rise to practical and economic challenges. With this Supplementary Proposition, the Government puts forth proposals for handling the situation in the near-term and proposes a balanced approach to financing the measures. The proposals lay the foundation for a lasting long-term policy to address the considerable flows of asylum-seekers ahead”, says Minister of Finance Siv Jensen.
Compared with the budget proposal for 2016, the Government proposes a NOK 9.5 billion increase in allocations to handle the inflow of asylum-seekers. The proposals set out in the Supplementary Proposition are based on a projected inflow of 33000 asylum-seekers to Norway in 2016. The Government further proposes to allocate additional funds in 2016 to address the consequences of increased inflows in 2015. There is considerable uncertainty associated with these projections.
“Norway will pursue a strict, but fair asylum policy. A review of rules and routines must be conducted with a focus on reducing costs per asylum-seeker and the flow of new asylum-seekers”, says Minister of Finance Siv Jensen.
“At the same time, we will implement measures that will provide residency-approved asylum-seekers with the opportunity to live a decent life in Norway, notably to find accommodation, learn Norwegian and gain access to the labour market. The Government therefore proposes a number of measures to facilitate rapid integration into Norwegian society”, says Minister of Finance Siv Jensen.
«The budget for 2016 is still a budget for employment, activity and restructuring, aimed at promoting employment growth and counteract unemployment associated with the decline in petroleum activity. At the same time, the Government upholds the measures designed to facilitate the long-term restructuring of the Norwegian economy. Priority will be given to investment in transport infrastructure, education and growth-promoting tax reductions, and a number of reforms will be implemented to raise productivity in the private and public sector”, says Minister of Finance Siv Jensen.
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration projects a NOK 5 billion increase in the expenditure under the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs and the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion in 2016 due to increased numbers of asylum-seekers. In addition, expenditure on care centres for unaccompanied minors is projected to increase by NOK 1.3 billion. In addition to this, other expenditure increases are estimated to total NOK 1.6 billion. The increase in expenditure associated with a higher-than-projected number of asylum arrivals in 2015 is roughly estimated at NOK 2 billion in 2016. The Government also proposes cost reduction measures that reduce expenditure by NOK 0.4 billion.
The Government’s proposal does not imply a significant change in spending of petroleum revenues over the Fiscal Budget compared with the budget proposal presented on October 7.
The Government proposes to finance most of the expenditure increase by means of official development assistance (ODA) budget reallocations, tax reduction adjustments and expenditure reductions. The proposal includes a reallocation of NOK 4.2 billion under ODA, a NOK 1.8 billion increase in tax revenues and further financing of a total of NOK 2.3 billion. The structural non-oil deficit increases by NOK 1.2 billion.
The proposal entails an overall increase in the ODA budget of NOK 1.2 billion compared with the initial budget proposal for 2016, bringing the ODA budget for 2016 to NOK 34.8 billion, which represents 1 percent of Norway’s total income (GNI).
Norway contributes to the international work and assistance to the large number of refugees present in nearby areas. The Government will also preserve the institution of asylum in Norway by pursuing a clear and predictable protection and repatriation policy. The arrangement for and the size of benefits to asylum-seeker must be consistent with corresponding benefits in comparable countries as differences can influence flows.
The Government will also appoint an expert committee to examine the long-term consequences for Norwegian society and how to improve the functioning of society in a situation with high inflows of refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants.