Norway Oil Riches Up for Grabs as Anti-Tax Group Set to Win
By Saleha Mohsin
Norway’s Sept. 9 election is set to open up a debate on how much of the nation’s oil wealth can be funneled straight into Scandinavia’s richest economy.
The Progress Party, poised to enter government for the first time since being founded in 1973, is campaigning on a platform to scrap Norway’s 4 percent spending limit on oil revenue. The rule, which was pushed through by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labor Party early last decade to prevent overheating, is backed by all other groups in parliament.
“The biggest question is to which extent the Progress Party will form the fiscal policy and use of oil money,” Olav Chen, senior portfolio manager at Storebrand ASA (STB), who oversees about $8 billion, said Aug. 28 in an e-mail.
According to most polls, the Progress Party is on course to become the second-biggest group in a coalition led by Erna Solberg’s Conservatives. Solberg has sought to reassure voters and economists that she’ll be responsible in overseeing the nation’s $760 billion wealth fund. Her party has discussed restructuring the fund to help it generate higher returns.
The Progress Party and the Conservatives have both campaigned on promises to cut income taxes and the wealth tax, and to increase investments in infrastructure such as roads.
The opposition, which also includes the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party, is set to win 100 seats in parliament, versus 68 for the three-party government, according to a weighted average of 24 opinion polls as of Sept. 2 by the website Pollofpolls.no.
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