November 7, 2017 / 2:42 PM / 3 years ago

Norway government seeks to keep spending in check as budget talks begin

OSLO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Norway’s minority government began talks in parliament on Tuesday to secure a majority for its 2018 fiscal budget, arguing that overall spending should not exceed its original proposal made last month.

The right-wing government of the Conservatives and the Progress Party needs backing from the small Christian Democrats and the Liberals to pass a budget bill, but must keep spending in check to prevent a currency rally that could hurt exports.

“All parties must help keep spending within responsible economic limits, which means making real priorities,” finance committee Chairman Nikolai Astrup of the Conservative Party told reporters at the start of the talks.

“We’ve managed to agree in the past, so I’m sure we’ll manage this year as well,” he added.

The government on Oct. 12 proposed spending 1.33 trillion Norwegian crowns ($162.6 billion) in 2018, with year-on-year spending growth of one percent and a deficit of 231 billion crowns to be covered from Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund.

While the Liberals seek to raise taxes on petrol and other sources of greenhouse gases, and boost education spending, the Christian Democrats aim to raise spending on kindergartens and other family related benefits, as well as on foreign aid.

“Many of their primary positions are difficult for us to accept, but we now aim to come to an agreement,” Progress Party finance spokesman Helge Andre Njaastad told reporters.

$1 = 8.1784 Norwegian crowns Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, writing by Terje Solsvik

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