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The following OECD assessment and recommendations summarise chapter 5 of the Economic Survey of Sweden published on 3rd December 2008.
An important recent achievement has been the progress made in privatising government-owned enterprises. This is warranted, given that the Swedish State’s portfolio of state-owned enterprises is estimated to be worth the equivalent of around one-quarter of the market capitalisation of the Stockholm stock exchange. The scope of the public enterprise sector is among the broadest in the OECD. State ownership of businesses may hold back innovation and entrepreneurship and deter potential entrants. Privatisation should therefore continue - although financial market turmoil may require some transactions to be postponed so as to secure the right price for asset sales. Following on from the current programme (with a bank, a mortgage lender and the incumbent telecom operator yet to be sold under existing parliamentary approval), priority should be given to selling other companies that already operate under market conditions (such as the incumbent airline, other transport companies and forestry companies). Monopoly power should be reduced in some cases, for example in railways and retail, with appropriate regulatory changes to protect consumer welfare. In the case of firms entrusted with special societal interest, there may be other forms of policy intervention that might achieve the same goals without the government needing to own enterprises. As a general rule, asset sale proceeds should not be used to finance new spending or reductions in revenue that would have adverse long-term fiscal implications; rather, they should serve to reduce government debt.
The Swedish State owns enterprises in a wide range of sectors
A higher index value implies State ownership in more sectors.
How to obtain this publication
The Policy Brief (pdf format) can be downloaded in English. It contains the OECD assessment and recommendations. A Summary in Swedish (pdf format) is also available.
The complete edition of the Economic survey of Sweden 2008 is available from:
For further information please contact the Sweden Desk at the OECD Economics Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. The OECD Secretariat's report was prepared by Jens Lunsgaard and David Turvey under the supervision of Vincent Koen. Research assistance was provided by Roselyne Jamin.