Swedish cabinet members fend off criticism

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Tuesday October 17, 2006

Stockholm- The issue of unpaid television licence fees and unpaid employer fees continued Tuesday to dog Sweden's centre-right government, embroiling Finance Minister Anders Borg and another cabinet member. Stockholm tabloids Expressen and Aftonbladet said Borg, 38, had failed to pay employer fees for a baby-sitter he and his wife hired several years ago.

The pony-tailed Borg, a key adviser to conservative Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, told reporters that he had consulted the tax authorities months ago and was "of the opinion" they had followed the rules.

Migration Minister Tobias Billstrom broke a week-long silence Tuesday telling Swedish radio news that he had no plans on resigning for failing to pay his mandatory television licence fee for 10 years.

The 33-year-old minister said last week he had not paid the fee, currently about 266 dollars a year, over "ideological reasons".

However, he said he had changed his stance, and was prepared to pay it retroactively, adding that he did not fear a police probe.

Two other cabinet ministers have also resigned, like Billstrom and Borg they belonged to the conservative Moderate Party raising questions about Reinfeldt's political judgement.

Former culture minister Cecilia Stego Chilo, who had not paid her licence fee for 16 years, stepped down Monday just hours before Borg presented the government's first budget bill - in a move whose timing was slammed as spiteful by non-socialist editorial writers.

Over the weekend Maria Borelius resigned as trade minister after admitting to failing to pay employer fees to nannies she hired during the 1990s to care for her four children, but she was also under fire for irregularities in share dealings and dubious tax compliance in house purchases.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency