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Daily Archives: 16. May 2021 − News & Stories


Coro­na aid for Lon­gye­ar­by­en com­pa­nies: some are dis­cri­mi­na­ted

“Sval­bard­pak­ke 2” is the second Nor­we­gi­an packa­ge of coro­na back­ing for com­pa­nies in Lon­gye­ar­by­en that have suf­fe­r­ed eco­no­mic­al­ly from the pan­de­mic. The packa­ge includes 40 mil­li­on Nor­we­gi­an crowns (4 mil­li­on Euro) and it was brought on the way by the Nor­we­gi­an par­lia­ment on 23 Febru­ary becau­se many local com­pa­nies, espe­ci­al­ly tour ope­ra­tors, were suf­fe­ring from an acu­te liqui­di­ty crunch. But the allo­ca­ti­on of the funds reve­als a two-class socie­ty with dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on of some com­pa­nies who are “not Nor­we­gi­an enough”.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re, the com­mu­ni­ty admi­nis­tra­ti­on, sta­ted in a press release on 09 March (this author’s trans­la­ti­on): “Mayor Arild Olsen men­ti­ons that the admi­nis­tra­ti­on will empha­sise cri­te­ria that sup­port gene­ral Nor­we­gi­an Sval­bard poli­tics. This will obvious­ly include good working con­di­ti­on, but also the affi­lia­ti­on of the com­pa­ny. For exam­p­le that the respon­si­ble com­pa­nies are 100 % in Nor­we­gi­an owner­ship and that the public limi­t­ed com­pa­nies are at least 34 % owned by Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens and pay taxes in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Alter­na­tively, com­pa­nies are included that have been acti­ve in Sval­bard for at least five years.”

This was just a press release and not a legal­ly bin­ding text. Later, the mini­mum peri­od of local acti­vi­ty was increased from five years up to ten for tho­se tho­se com­pa­nies that are not in Nor­we­gi­an owner­ship as descri­bed. This is now caus­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for seve­ral com­pa­nies.

To pre­vent any misun­derstan­dings: this is in any case exclu­si­ve­ly about Nor­we­gi­an com­pa­nies that are regis­tered in the Nor­we­gi­an Brøn­nøy­sund regist­re and that are based and acti­ve in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and not about com­pa­nies from else­whe­re.

Corona aids: discrimination of companies  in Longyearbyen

The Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty empha­si­zes the equal tre­at­ment regard­less of natio­na­li­ty, but some­ti­mes, some are more equal than others (Nor­we­gi­an natio­nal day, 17 May, in Lon­gye­ar­by­en)

But acc­cor­ding to the cur­rent hand­ling of the recent packa­ge of coro­na aids, the natio­na­li­ty of the owners is to play a decisi­ve rule. This includes cases whe­re non-Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens have foun­ded a com­pa­ny in Lon­gye­ar­by­en years ago, who live and work in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, crea­te local jobs and pay local taxes, al accor­ding to local regu­la­ti­ons. It is not about pre­ven­ting abu­se and fraud, but about exclu­ding com­pa­nies owned, part­ly or ful­ly, by non-Nor­we­gi­ans.

It does not sur­pri­se that some who are con­cer­ned feel dis­cri­mi­na­ted. Mar­cel Schütz has been acti­ve with his com­pa­ny Spitz­ber­gen Rei­sen in her pre­sent shape sin­ce 2016 after having star­ted with the pre­ce­des­sor in 2012, as he told Sval­bard­pos­ten. He has inves­ted sub­stan­ti­al­ly in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, among­st others in local accom­mo­da­ti­on of his cli­ents, crea­ted seve­ral per­ma­nent plus seve­ral sea­so­nal jobs and pays local taxes. Not being included becau­se of natio­na­li­ty when tax money is retur­ned to com­pa­nies in need does doubt­less not crea­te good fee­lings, after having con­tri­bu­ted to the deve­lo­p­ment of the local eco­no­my for years.

Five or six out of 76 com­pa­nies that are regis­tered in Visit Sval­bard may be excluded becau­se of the owner­ship regu­la­ti­ons. Schütz demands the rele­vant para­graph to be revi­sed and ide­al­ly to be ful­ly remo­ved.

Mayor Olsen said that Sval­bard, in con­trast to main­land Nor­way, is not part of the Euro­pean Eco­no­mic Area and thus more free to make local decis­i­ons, and that para­graph 5 is meant to sup­port Nor­we­gi­an Sval­bard poli­tics, which gene­ral­ly aim at a Nor­we­gi­an focus of local acti­vi­ties.

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