Norway raises forecast for asylum seekers in 2015

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 26, 2015 6:28 AM

By Gwladys Fouche

GARDERMOEN, Norway (Reuters) - Norway raised its forecasts on Monday for how many asylum seekers will arrive in 2015, as the government prepares to offer an amendment to its 2016 budget that would increase state spending to deal with the increased arrivals.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) said asylum applications might reach 30,000 to 35,000 , an increase from a forecast of 20,000 to 25,000 made on Oct. 5. Norway's population is 5.2 million people.

"Now we think it is probably going to be over 30,000 (arrivals) ... It is not unthinkable that we are going to land between 30,000 and 35,000," Christine Wilberg, the section director at UDI in charge of reception centers, told a seminar.

The government of Prime Minister Erna Solberg will soon offer an amendment to Parliament concerning its 2016 budget, which it presented less than three weeks ago, to adjust the cost of more people seeking protection.

The government said on Oct. 7 it planned to make its first net withdrawal of money from the country's giant wealth fund next year to pay for tax cuts and help boost an economy hit by weak oil prices.

The rapid influx of asylum seekers could lead to an even larger withdrawal from the $865 billion fund, Solberg has since said.

(Editing by Terje Solsvik, Larry King)