Sweden's Sandviken Municipality, which according to a widely-criticised report by an acclaimed consulting company should have been turned into a land of milk and honey owing to immigration, is facing a record budget defecit of SEK 67 million (almost $7 million).
In 2014, a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the the local authorities, promised Sandviken, a municipality of 40,000 located in Gävleborg County north of Stockholm, an astonishing annual profit of SEK 500 million (over $51 million) “due to foreign-born residents”.
Five years later, the promised mountains and marvels are still to materialise, as the municipality is cruising toward a record budget deficit that will be the fourth-largest in the entire country.
“It was a fantasy scenario that was painted up. The report was incorrect from the start. How could anyone stand behind it?” local politician Jonny Bratberg of the Moderate Party told the daily newspaper Expressen.
The chairman of the municipal council, Social Democrat Peter Kärnström, cited “unfavourable demographics” with many children and elderly. At present, the municipality needs 800 school places, while elderly care is in need of expansion as well amid ballooning costs.
“It's like in all other municipalities, the situation is strained”, Peter Kärnström told Expressen, noting that the municipality needs more money from the outside. “If all of Sweden were to live like this, you must also have an equalising system that reflects that”, he said.
Since Sandviken Municipality currently lacks a slogan (and doesn't need one, according to Kärnström), jesters were quick with handy solutions. Journalist and debater Thomas Gür proposed “Sandviken – where virtue is rampant and foolishness reigns supreme”. Christian Sonesson, the chairman of Staffanstorp Municipality, suggested “Sandviken – where gold turns to sand”, alluding to its name that literally translates as “Sand Bay”. Another sharp suggestion included “Sandviken – you can count on us”.
In recent years, the so-called “Sandviken report” has been widely questioned and ridiculed in Sweden. When confronted by the news outlet Nyheter Idag, Peter Wolodarski, the editor-in-chief of Dagens Nyheter, the country's leading daily that published the report in 2014, admitted that “it was not a good article”. However, the newspaper has refused to retract the article.
Of late, several Swedish municipalities have resisted accepting more newly arrived immigrants. Sölvesborg's right-wing Sweden Democrat Mayor Louise Erixon recently created a stir by suggesting the “red-led” Social Democrat municipalities take over Sölvesborg's newcomers, because they have claimed it's “economically beneficial” and sarcastically referencing Sandviken.