Smaller surplus in Sweden’s government budget

Press release 24 May 2022

Lower economic growth, increased government spending, and an outflow of capital from tax accounts weigh on the central government budget. At the same time, higher inflation leads to increased income from VAT. Altogether, the Debt Office now expects a lower budget surplus for the central government in 2022 and 2023 than in the previous forecast – and thereby a larger borrowing requirement, which is being met by increasing the short-term borrowing.

Much has happened affecting government finances since we presented our most recent forecast in February. The most prominent event is of course the war in Ukraine, which has consequences for the Swedish central government budget through, among other things, increased expenditure for defence and migration. The currently high inflation and the increase in interest rates also have effects, partly in differing directions. Altogether, we see a continued surplus and thereby a declining central government debt, but the budget balance weakens compared with the previous forecast. The borrowing during these two years is for the refinancing of maturing loans,” says Debt Office Director General Karolina Ekholm.

Higher inflation and lower growth

After very high growth last year, the war in Ukraine slows growth internationally and in Sweden, while inflation rises. The Debt Office is lowering its outlook for the Swedish economy this year and expects growth to reach just over 2 per cent. Unemployment falls somewhat more slowly than in the forecast from February but gradually shifts back to the level from before the pandemic. Inflation is revised up considerably and is expected to reach more than 5 per cent this year and almost 3 per cent in 2023.

Smaller surplus in central government budget

The central government budget balance is getting lower but still shows a surplus. Compared with the Debt Office's previous forecast, the budget surplus is expected to become lower this year and the next. This is because capital placements in tax accounts are expected to decrease at the same time as central government expenditure increases, which is partly counteracted by increased consumption-tax income due to rapid price increases.

Increased short-term borrowing and a foreign-currency bond

In the new forecast of the central government budget balance, the government borrowing requirement is higher than in the previous forecast. In keeping with the Debt Office’s strategy of adapting the short-term borrowing first, the volume of treasury bills in being adjusted upwards. In addition, the Debt Office is planning to issue a foreign-currency bond in 2022. The planned issuance volumes of nominal and inflation-linked bonds remain unchanged.

Surplus causes central government debt to decrease

At the end of 2021, the central government debt amounted to SEK 1,204 billion, corresponding to 22 per cent of GDP. It is now expected to decrease to SEK 1,103 billion in 2022 and SEK 1,026 billion in 2023. The debt thereby ends up at 17 per cent of GDP at the end of the forecast period. 

The Maastricht debt is expected to decrease, from 37 per cent of GDP at the end of 2021, to 33 per cent in 2022 and 30 per cent in 2023. The Maastricht measure includes the consolidated debt for the entire public sector and is used in international comparisons. This is also the measure referred to for the debt anchor of 35 per cent of GDP (±5 percentage points) in the fiscal policy framework.

Key figures for Sweden’s economy, centralgovernment finances and borrowing
This forecast (previous forecast, Feb '22, in parentheses)2021 outcome20222023
Swedish economy      
GDP growth (%) 4.8 2,2 (3.2) 1.8 (1.8)
Unemployment (% of labour force) 8.8 7.5 (7.7) 7.2 (7.0)
CPIF inflation (%) 2.4 5.5 (3.1) 2.8 (1.8)
Central government finances      
Budget balance (SEK billion) 78 102 (139) 75 (90)
Central government net lending (% of GDP) -1.1 -0.3 (0.2) 0.2 (0.5)
Central government debt (% of GDP) 22 19 (19) 17 (16)
Public sector (Maastricht) debt (% of GDP) 37 33 (33) 30 (31)
Government borrowing (SEK billion)      
Nominal government bonds  83 46 (46) 40 (40)
Inflation-linked bonds 21 9 (9) 9 (9)
Green bonds 0 0 (0) 0 (0)
Treasury bills (stock at year-end) 107 83 (65) 103 (65)
Foreign-currency bonds 0 20 (0) 0 (0)

Report: Central Government Borrowing – Forecast and Analysis 2022:2

Powerpoint presentation

The report will be presented at a digital press conference today, 24 May, at 10:00 a.m.
Watch the live stream of the press conference here (in Swedish)

Journalists can e-mail questions to press@riksgalden.se to be answered during the press conference. For further information or interview requests, contact the Debt Office's press function: +46 (0) 8 613 47 01, press@riksgalden.se.

The preliminary publishing date for Central Government Borrowing – Forecast and Analysis 2022:3 is 27 October 2022.

Press secretary

Åsa Elm, pressansvarig

The Debt Office's operations shall be characterized by an openness to the public and the media. The right of access to official business is a cornerstone of Swedish democracy.

Our press secretary helps you get in touch with the right person so that you can get your questions answered quickly and easily. The press secretary can also provide you with material, answer comprehensive questions about our business and upcoming publications.

Åsa Elm
Mobil: 076-100 63 56
E-mail: Åsa Elm
Press phone: 08-613 47 01 (office hours and occasionally in between)