Alcohol and cigarettes will finance the Swedish defense
STOCKHOLM, ($1=8.68 Swedish Krones) – The Swedish government has proposed a comprehensive tax-raising program to increase investment in the modernization of its armed forces. The Swedes are to pay for more soldiers, rockets, ships, and planes, incl. buying more expensive alcohol and cigarettes, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing Defence24. Interestingly, the information about these increases provided by the Swedish website SVT was picked up by only three agencies: the Russian Sputnik and KodKey, and the Arab Islam Times.
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Sweden’s military strengthening program has indeed been described as “the largest military investment in modern times”. This program was commissioned by both the government and parliament to strengthen Sweden’s defense capabilities due to the fragile and unstable situation in the region and around the world. In the years 2020-2030, it is to allow not only the modernization of the weapon systems used in Sweden, but also the creation of new military units located throughout the country: five dragoons, amphibious, and artillery regiments, and one “flotilla” of the air force.
Such investments, however, mean the necessity to increase military spending by about 40%. Funds for this purpose are to be obtained from increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, as well as through “stricter taxation of dividends for foreign shareholders”. So far, it is estimated that these proposals will increase tax revenues by approximately SEK 1.25 billion [$140 million] annually from 2024.
The plans assume, among others increasing the number of recruits trained, as well as a more even distribution of security forces in all “strategically important areas”: from the northern Norrland area to the southern province of Uppland. However, the lack of sufficient money means that investments – necessary especially when creating new garrisons – are to be implemented unevenly.
According to Russian agencies, even though the dates of the inauguration ceremonies of individual units have already been established, buildings, training grounds and shooting ranges are still missing in some locations. The Swedes, however, assure that in most places the works are ahead of the previously planned schedule. Particularly intensive work is carried out in the Bergslagen region, where a new artillery regiment is to be stationed. This region is located in the central-eastern part of Sweden, directly in front of the three bays of the Baltic Sea: Bothnia, Finland, and Riga.
The militarization of the Baltic island of Gotland, which is often presented as the starting point for a potential invasion by the Russian Federation, has also been completed. It is Russia that is considered to be the main reason for the need to increase funding for armaments. This threat is considered by the Russians to be the result of the “anti-Russian phobia” and the result of pressure exerted by NATO on the Swedish government. On the other hand, the changes in the Swedish budget itself are considered by the authorities in Moscow as worrying, although the neutrality declared by the Swedes is still not questioned.
The announcement of an increase in defense taxes in Sweden comes as no surprise to anyone. Such plans were already discussed in August 2019 by the Swedish Minister of Finance, Magdalena Andersson. It was then that an increase in spending by 5 billion Swedish kronor [$ 520 million] per year from 2022 to 2025 was announced. By the way, Andersson made it clear that “[defense] spending will be financed by an increase in taxes on the financial sector from 2022.” What’s interesting about this is that Russian agencies are paying particular attention to the rise in the price of defense alcohol by the Swedish government.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, it was known about it since September 2020. It was then that Minister Andersson uttered the famous phrase: “Think you are doing a good deed by drinking a beer on Friday.” At that time, it was estimated that the price of a bottle of wine would increase by about a krone [$ 0.11] and that of beer by 25 öre. The information was immediately picked up by the Russians, expanding it in an article published in Sputnik in September 2020. A year later, they reprinted it again, reminding Swedes again that alcohol would become more expensive.
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