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Does practice change?

Prime Minister Bjarne Håkon Hanssen is considering a change of practice.


[quota refugees] The practice of converting quota refugees to kroner and penny, and then spending the money for purposes other than retrieving refugees to Norway, may change.

From 1998 to 2006, the Storting decided that Norway should receive a total of 11.500 quota refugees through the UN. Ny Tid revealed, however, that 780 of the quota places (so-called convertible quota places) were instead used to finance other purposes. This was unknown to the public and politicians, who criticized the practice (see Ny Tid no. 18-2007).

Against this background, Storting representative Bjørg Tørresdal (KrF) raised the matter with the Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion in a letter on June 7. The reply letter from Bjarne Håkon Hansen (Ap), dated June 13, states:

“I have noticed the discussion that has been going on about this scheme and will consider further whether the established practice should be continued. The Government will return to this in the usual way in connection with the submission of proposals for the state budget for 2008. »

- It is an outing when quota places are converted for purposes other than bringing refugees here. It is therefore positive that the Minister is open to taking up this debate. I want to contribute to the debate so that what is in the state budget reflects reality, says Tørresdal.

The so-called convertible quota places have over the years gone to finance everything from paying Norwegians in the UNHCR system (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), funding a program for cultureorientering under the auspices of the Directorate for Integration and Diversity (IMDi) and to UNHCR's resettlement fund.

Convertible quota places have even been used to finance the education of Norwegian children in Norwegian schools about the situation of Congolese refugees.

For this year, 80 out of 1200 allowance places can thus be used for purposes other than actually bringing refugees here to Norway. According to the Ministry's own calculation, these 80 convertible seats correspond to a total of NOK 9,74 million, which can therefore be used for other purposes related to refugees.

- We may rather decide whether we want to set aside money for our own items that can support these other good causes. There will be incorrect information if we do not collect the number of quota refugees to Norway that the Storting has decided, says Tørresdal.

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