💊 Sweden top drug consumers?
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Good morning! Today is Friday. In today’s Riedia Sweden Morning Digest, we're covering:
Calls for Swedish pension reform, the government prepares to conduct the first population census in decades, and a new survey finds Swedish cities rank highest in drug use.
—Julia Powanda, Viviana Levet, and Carlos Lago
💰 Swedish pension system "complicated and expensive"
The Pensions Agency is calling for a thorough review of the pension system. According to Ole Settergren, various political decisions and measures have made pensions too complicated, "it is unnecessarily complicated and unnecessarily expensive… the system becomes difficult, not to say impossible, to understand," he says.
It involves various tax-funded supplements and systems to counteract excessively low pensions. As it stands now, seven in ten pensioners are part of one of these tax-funded systems, according to the Pensions Agency.
Taxes fund it
The goal of the Swedish pension system is to make sure that pensioners are not given too low incomes, but with five different pension systems, this can be a challenge to achieve. This includes basic protection, with a guaranteed pension, housing supplements, and elder support, but also supplements that have emerged to raise pensions for those in the worst position in recent years. This makes it very difficult to get an overview of the system and understand how your pension will actually turn out. In addition, it becomes unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers.
The pension system was established 30 years ago, and since then there has been a kind of pride among politicians who were involved in the implementation at the time. Some have called the Swedish pension system the world's best pension system that finances itself, where lifelong income determines pension levels.
Now, life expectancy has increased since the system was introduced, but it is only this year that politicians have decided that things like health insurance and unemployment insurance should follow up into old age, he explains.
But, according to the Swedish Pension Agency, sluggishness has made everyone's pensions too low, and now the system is threatened. Therefore, a review is needed. The Pension Agency outlines two different alternatives.
The basic pension, a uniform pension that is the same for everyone, would replace both the current income-based pensions and the current basic protection. According to the Pensions Agency, this would be a radical change as it would completely remove the link to the income that the individual has had. In this option, only occupational pensions and personal savings would have a connection to the individual's income during their working life.
Current general income-based pension benefits, income-based and premium-based pensions would remain unchanged. However, basic protection would be replaced by a new basic protection benefit that is deducted krona for krona against income-related pensions.
by TT | edited by Riedia
🇸🇪 New Swedish population census
For the first time in decades, a new Swedish census will be conducted. A large-scale national population census was announced in the Tidö agreement, and the task has now been formally assigned to the Swedish Tax Agency. The agency will both provide a situational analysis of who is in the country, and suggest additional tools that may be needed to straighten out the population registry.
This issue is important for the coalition partner the Sweden Democrats (SD) , who see a population census as a way to find people who are residing in the country illegally, "we have lost control over who lives in our country," says SD leader Jimmie Åkesson.
"Not knocking on every door"
Now, according to the government, the Swedish Tax Agency's targeted checks will be an important part of the process.
According to Elisabeth Svantesson, Minister of Finance, "there will be quite a few doors knocked on, but this cannot be done everywhere. It is not an efficient way to use taxpayers' money."
The Tax Agency is expected to report on the mission in September. It is unclear when the census could be completed.
"My goal is that during this parliamentary term, we will have a much better understanding of who is in the country and that people are living in the right place," says Svantesson.
by Niklas Svahn/TT, Anja Haglund/TT | edited by Riedia
💊 Swedish cities' drug habits
The EU has compiled a record-breaking survey of wastewater with the goal of gaining insight into European drug habits. The highest concentrations of amphetamines were found in the Swedish cities that participated in the survey.
The EU's drug agency EMCDDA collected sewage water analysis from 104 cities in 21 European countries to investigate and compare drug habits among its residents.
The Swedish cities of Gävle, Sandviken, and Söderhamn were included in the survey for the third year in a row, which has been conducted annually since 2011.
Samples were collected by authorities in each city during a week in spring 2022 and subsequently analyzed for amphetamines, cannabis, ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine.
Sweden Tops in Amphetamines
The absolute highest levels of amphetamines in relation to the population were found during the measurement period in Gävle and Sandviken, followed by cities in Belgium and Germany. The Swedish cities' levels of amphetamines were among the highest measured in 2020 and 2021 as well.
Cocaine levels were highest in cities in Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands. The clear leader was the port city of Antwerp—a major hub for cocaine smuggling into Europe.
The highest concentration of metamfetamine by far was in the Czech Republic. Cannabis concentrations were highest in Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland. MDMA, on the other hand, was most common in cities in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The highest levels of the anesthetic drug ketamine, analyzed for the first time, were found in Denmark.
Cocaine, MDMA, and metamfetamine were more common in larger cities and occurred to a greater extent on holidays, indicating more recreational use, according to EMCDDA.
Differences between cities in the same country can, according to EMCDDA, be related to the presence of universities, nightlife, and the population's age.
A large number of Swedish cities conduct their own measurements of drug prevalence in wastewater water, but only Gävle, Sandviken, and Söderhamn currently participate in EMCDDA's survey.
by TT | edited by Riedia
🇷🇺 Billström rejects Russian embassy's threats
Tatarintsev and the Russian embassy issued a statement on Wednesday warning Sweden against joining the NATO defense alliance. "Sweden will become a legitimate target" if the country joins NATO, the statement said.
"Only Sweden decides"
The Russian ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev has now been summoned to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Following the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström (M) stated that the Swedish government's stance was conveyed "very clearly."
Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström rejected the Russian antagonism, "Sweden's security is determined by Sweden and no one else. We do not accept the presentation of this type of viewpoint, which is an obvious influence operation intended to affect Sweden's NATO membership," adding that, "we do not need a state to look over our shoulder on these issues."
by Niklas Svahn/TT | edited by Riedia
What else is happening in Sweden?
📑 The Swedish National Audit Office has criticized 13 out of 221 state authorities and organizations for serious errors in their annual reports. The most common flaw was authorities exceeding their powers regarding the size or length of agreements entered into. The Public Employment Service, the Armed Forces, and the National Psychological Defense Agency were among those to be criticized.
🖼️ Sweden's National Heritage Board will investigate the possibility of creating a national council for cultural protection in order to coordinate the protection of cultural heritage in the event of an armed attack on Sweden. The proposal for a cultural protection council originated from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, which last autumn recommended that the government allocate SEK 640 million for the protection of cultural heritage by 2024. The National Heritage Board will report back in August.
❄️ The Swedish Meteorological Institute (SMHI) has issued a yellow warning for snowfall in the south and for very strong winds in the north. Even colder air is expected to move in over the country this coming weekend. Snowfall is expected to grip parts of Västra Götaland and Östergötland with precipitation which can impact heavily on traffic.
What is happening in the world?
🇪🇨 At least 14 people are confirmed dead and 67 others are missing after a landslide caused by heavy rainfall in Ecuador. The search and rescue operation is ongoing in the city of Alausi, 300km south of the capital Quito. Local authorities have reported that around 163 homes were destroyed or damaged in the disaster.
🇹🇷 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin may soon visit Türkiye (Turkey), potentially for the inauguration of the country's first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu on April 27th. The state-owned Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom has assisted in building the reactor, and will also provide the power plant's design and construction, as well as maintenance, operation, and decommissioning. Putin could either come to Türkiye or participate via teleconference.
🇩🇰 The Danish military has found an unknown object at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which is suspected to be a smoke buoy, according to Denmark's energy authority. It is thought that the object, found at a depth of 73 meters, is harmless. The pipelines are owned by Russian gas firm Gazprom, and investigations into explosions that occurred there in September 2022 are ongoing.
🇲🇽 Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised that nothing would be hidden when it comes to finding those responsible for the death of 38 people in a fire at a migrant detention center. The disaster occurred late on Monday at a facility in Ciudad Juárez, near El Paso in the United States. Around 200,000 people try to cross the border from Mexico to the US every month, mostly fleeing poverty and violence in Central and South America, and many end up stranded in border cities such as Ciudad Juárez.
🇸🇪 A new report by the independent think tank Safe Sweden Foundation has highlighted major issues with crime in Swedish sports. The report is based on interviews with over 200 people affiliated with sports and is intended to provide a deeper understanding of the situation. The report shows that crimes and insecurity are a problem that is not solely linked to major team sports. Many special sports federations, including smaller ones, have become aware of various types of crimes within sports over the past year.
🏒 Mora advances to the semifinals of the Hockey Allsvenskan playoffs after a 3-2 win over Södertälje in the sixth match of the quarterfinal series. Måns Carlsson scored the winning goal with an impressive move reminiscent of Kent "Kenta" Nilsson and Peter Forsberg. Mora will now face top-seeded Modo in the semifinals for a chance to advance to the SHL next season.
🏎️ The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne could potentially be held in the dark as an evening race, according to Paul Little, the country's Formula 1 chairman. The main aim would be to reach a wider F1 audience internationally as more people could stay up to watch the race live at a reasonable time of day. While no immediate changes are planned as yet, greater efforts to put lighting in place would be required.
📸 Stockholm 's Fotografiska is showcasing the work of local emerging photographers in a new exhibition series, highlighting young talents who depict their daily lives. The exhibition series, "Emerging artists", will provide a platform for promising photographers, with Malmö-based Ikram Abdulkadir being the first photographer featured. His work, "I see home in you", opens on 28 April and features intimate portraits of friends and family members.
🎭 Stockholm 's culture night will take place on April 22nd this year. The night is an opportunity to see performances and visit museums and attractions late at night. All programs and events on the culture night are free. You can visit the program here and build your own culture night.
👩💻 The Malmö Startup Conference will take place on May 10th. The event brings together hundreds of Malmö Startup Founders and International Investors. The event is free to attend, but you do need to reserve a spot if you wish to attend.
Discover Sweden - History
🏆 A fake Nobel prize?
Did you know that the "Nobel Prize in Economics" does not actually exist? Well, it does… but it wasn't Alfred Nobel's creation.
When Alfred Nobel signed his will on November 27, 1895, he designated five prizes to be awarded in alphabetical order for achievements in chemistry, literature, peace, physics, and physiology or medicine. While the prize for economics is highly anticipated, it is not part of the original set of Nobel Prizes.
In 1968, Sweden's central bank, Sveriges Riksbank, which is the oldest central bank in the world, pledged a donation to the Nobel Foundation to establish a prize in memory of Alfred Nobel. The prize was officially named the "Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel," but is commonly known as the "Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences." The first prize was awarded in 1969 to Ragnar Frisch of Norway and Jan Tinbergen of the Netherlands.
by Julia Powanda/Riedia
Made with 💛 in Stockholm
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