November 20, 2018 / 6:29 PM / 4 months ago

Norway's minority government seals budget deal, sets stage to expand cabinet

FILE PHOTO: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg delivers a speech at the Paris Peace Forum after the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France November 11, 2018. Yoan Valat/Pool via REUTERS

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s minority center-right government has struck a deal with the independent Christian Democrats (CDP) on a 2019 fiscal bill, it said on Tuesday, securing the budget’s passage in parliament and setting the stage for talks to expand the cabinet.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, in power since 2013, has long sought to include the CDP in her government of the Conservatives, the centrist Liberals and the right-wing Progress Party, and thus turn it into a majority coalition.

“This budget lays the foundations for initial talks planned among the four parties to potentially become a four-party government,” Conservative Party chief negotiator Henrik Asheim told a news conference.

On Nov. 2, delegates at a CDP conference narrowly voted in favor of opening talks to join the coalition, but the two sides had to agree on a 2019 spending plan before talks could start.

Among the agreed budget changes are higher taxes on an income more than 950,000 Norwegian crowns ($110,574.40) and an increase in child allowance of 1,000 crowns per year per child.

There were no changes in overall budget spending from the original proposal on October 8.

Reporting By Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik, William Maclean

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