On September 9, 2018 elections were made to parliament, municipality and county council in Sweden. During an election year, much is said about more money for different ventures, not least in the welfare sector. Just before the election we within SCA, through our CEO Ulf Larsson, made a contribution to the public debate about this. A debate article was published in the daily newspaper Sundsvalls Tidning and below is the entire article.
During an election year, there is much talk about spending more money on welfare. However, those of us who work in the forest industry would like to hear more about where the money for welfare comes from. The answer is namely that much of it comes from the forest and the forest industry – and this is the case in Västernorrland more than in any other county in Sweden!
This is something we are proud of. But in order to secure our welfare for the long term, the export-dependent forest industry must be able to operate under competitive terms.
3,800 jobs in the welfare sector in Västernorrland – that's the number of jobs that could be paid for by the tax revenue from forest industry employees. The Swedish Forest Industries Federation has calculated how many jobs in municipalities and county councils that could be financed by taxes from those directly and indirectly employed in the forest industry.
"With the right conditions, the forest industry can create both local jobs and growth in the bioeconomy. We can often see good understanding of this among local politicians, but we would like to see greater understanding in the national parliament," says Ulf Larsson, CEO of SCA. Photo: Michael Engman
Although pulp mills and paper mills are becoming increasingly efficient, we employ many more people, such as technology providers, truck drivers, service personnel and so forth.
Nowadays, most people know that the forest industry plays a decisive role in the transition to an environmentally sustainable society in which we are replacing fossil raw materials with renewables. However, the calculations also indicate the great importance it has for a socially sustainable community, that is, local welfare and vibrant rural areas.
Apart from tax revenue that finances welfare jobs, the forest industry also creates purchasing power that benefits hair salons, car repair shops and other small local businesses. This value chain begins in the forest.
But this basis for local welfare cannot be taken for granted. It is important to bolster the competitiveness of the forest industry by enabling cost-efficient transportation, for example, by opening up more roads for 74-tonne trucks. Even more important is the availability of raw materials. More forest land cannot be excluded from use. We can develop conservation values without earmarking more land for nature reserves and the like.
Talking about welfare is important. But more attention should be focused on where welfare financing comes from. With the right conditions, the forest industry can create both local jobs and growth in the bioeconomy. We can often see good understanding of this among local politicians, but we would like to see greater understanding in the national parliament.
Decisions on the conditions for the forest industry that are made in Stockholm, and not least in Brussels, impact jobs and welfare in many places in Sweden. Accordingly, issues that pertain to the forest industry are ultimately also welfare issues.