Denmark’s scrapped holiday not forgotten as government confirms economic surplus

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark’s scrapped holiday not forgotten as government confirms economic surplus
Denmark's 2024 budget proposal includes an increase in the "buffer" available to the government. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

A commentator in Danish media says the public will not forget that the government this year repealed a public holiday, in light of positive messaging about the country’s economic buffer increasing. Others back a cautious approach.


The loss of a public holiday to pay for government expenses is likely to grate even more given state finances appear in good shape, a commentator said after the 2024 draft budget was published on Thursday.

The Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag) public holiday was scrapped by the government earlier this in a highly unpopular move that elicited demonstrations and campaigns against the decision.

The government said that it had decided to repeal the holiday to create extra state income through tax, which would help to pay for extra defence spending and other costs.

Those statements could resurface in many people’s consciousness after Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen on Thursday enthusiastically spoke about the health of state finances as he presented the draft budget for 2024.

Wammen confirmed that the government’s budgetary buffer or råderum, the amount left over in that state coffers after the budget has been spent, was up in a sign that the national economy is healthy.

“The money box has got bigger and inflation has got smaller since we were here last” he said during the draft budget presentation.


“The Danish economy is, in other words, sturdy. That gives us the ability to again raise our sights and see where we want to make investments in Danish society,” he said.

READ ALSO: Five predictions about the Danish economy over the next few years

A number of newspaper columns on Friday have drawn a line from the scrapped holiday to the strength of government finances.

“It’s far from surprising but the controversial decision [to scrap Great Prayer Day, ed.] has probably become even more unpopular after the Finance Ministry this year has twice revised the so-called economic buffer, increasing it by 20 billion kroner,” the author of an op-ed in newspaper JydskeVestkysten writes.

Thursday’s budget presentation saw an upwards revision of the buffer – money available should the government need to finance an unforeseen expense – by four billion kroner.

“That is not least because we for several years have conducted an intelligent and responsible financial policy through times of crisis. That was probably boring but also means we’re in a very good place today,” Wammen said.

High employment and a reform of Master’s degree programmes were credited with giving the government additional budgetary leeway.

“The billions are pouring in right now and Wammen is smiling from ear to ear, but things can change quickly. The economy is fragile and Danes are not working enough,” newspaper Jyllands-Posten wrote, sounding a more cautious note.

Finance media Børsen said the government should have gone further with its cautious approach despite the additional billions.

“To what extent the government will be right about the Danish economy landing softly will be shown in time, but in light of the tight labour market, fiscal policy should have been tightened,” senior editor and economist Steen Bocian wrote.

“The [economic] overheating might never arrive but there’s no cause for economic experiments,” he wrote.


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