According to recent statistics, 94 percent of immigrants who’ve arrived in Sweden since the migrant crisis of 2015, rely on state benefits.
The government-run website Sweden.se has landed in hot water for marketing Sweden abroad as a place where immigrants can receive very generous contributions and other bonuses, including health care.
On the website, the reader is informed that Sweden has the world’s longest parental leave and even provides illegal immigrants with dental care. The website also provides a detailed list of benefits and allowances. For instance, a family with six children receives a monthly SEK 4,240 ($430) and SEK 7,500 ($760) in multi-child allowances.
The site is operated by the Swedish Institute (SI), a government body tasked with promoting the country’s image abroad and promoting its interests.
“I have no problem with signing up to the fact that we try to inform that Sweden is a welfare state. We have a system that sparks interest”, Per-Arne Wikström, the head of communications at the Swedish Institute, told TV4. He also admitted that the purpose of the webpage is to inform of Sweden’s priorities and potentially arouse interest in emigrating to the country.
The ploy to portray Sweden as a country of benefits irked politicians and ordinary Swedes alike. According to the newspaper Aftonbladet, 94 percent of the asylum seekers that arrived in Sweden since 2015 rely on state benefits.
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson called the site completely unreasonable. According to him, it sends a “completely wrong signal” about Sweden.
“Incredible. The government’s own authority markets Sweden abroad as a generous grant country. Everything in order to attract more people to Sweden. What Sweden needs is quotas in the welfare system and a strict migration policy. For a long time to come”, his party colleague Elisabeth Svantesson tweeted.
“Sweden should promote its equality, enterprise, research, respect for human rights. Not that everything is for free and everyone gets a grant! Do it right!” Liberal MP Robert Hannah tweeted.
“The Swedish Institute, a government authority, thus offers Swedish taxpayers’ money as a lure for immigration. Despite the fact that pediatric psychiatry, dental care and cancer surgeries do not work in Sweden. It is so inappropriate it doesn’t cease to amaze. They should be dismissed. Immediately”, Edward Nordén of the Citizens’ Coalition party tweeted.
“What kind of sick people does it take to market Sweden as a country of benefits – and thus attract even more luxury migrants?! These fools seem to know no limits. It should be a criminal offence”, blogger Micke69 tweeted.
“The Swedish Institute receives government grants of SEK 500 million [about $51 million] per year. And the very same institute wants to attract migrants to Sweden’s welfare system. Therefore, we pay tax to SI to pay even more tax. My tip: abolish SI”, blogger Projekt Morpheus wrote.
In response to the criticism, the Swedish government said that a meeting with the authority will be arranged. People should not be attracted here by welfare alone, Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg said.
The Swedish Institute earlier landed in hot water after blocking 14,000 users from Sweden’s official Twitter account and sparking concerns of censorship.