Reuters International

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's centre-left government will boost international aid spending by 2.5 billion Swedish crowns (222.64 million pounds) in its 2017 budget, the government said on Wednesday.

Tougher rules have cut asylum applications this year freeing up around 100 billion Swedish crowns ($11.70 billion) over the next four years that the government had previously earmarked for immigration.

"We know that Swedish aid gives hope and belief for a better future in the refugee camps of Jordan, in the Afghan countryside and for the rebuilding effort after the earthquake in Nepal," Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin said in daily Dagens Nyheter.

Around 160,000 people sought asylum in Sweden last year and the government said it would raid its overseas aid budget to finance some of the extra cost.

Andersson and Lovin, who is Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, said the government would give back 3.9 billion crowns originally taken away from the aid budget. In addition, the government will boost aid spending by 2.5 billion crowns on as yet unspecified projects.

Sweden gives the highest proportion of its national income to aid at around 1.1 percent in 2014, according to the OECD.

($1 = 8.5439 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)

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