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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 

The revised national budget, a large increase in online abuse and long waiting times for passports are among the main news stories in Norway on Thursday.

Pictured is Trondheim
Read about the revised national budget, long passport waiting times and the police being armed on May 17th in today's roundup of important news. Pictured is Trondheim.Photo by Artem Shuba on Unsplash.

Revised national budget to be presented

The revised national budget, the government’s updated plan for the country, will be presented by Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum on Thursday morning. 

The government will propose increasing the use of oil money by 30 billion kroner in the updated fiscal plan. The government has proposed cutting back on several construction projects too.

The government will make ferry routes with less than 100,000 passengers annually free. 

READ MORE: Why some ferry routes in Norway will be completely free this summer

Significant increase in online abuse figures 

The National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) has said that it has seen a four-fold increase in internet-related abuse between 2020 and last year. 

In 2020, it sent 500 tips to Norway’s police districts, compared to 2,000 last year. 

“We know that it is comprehensive. We have a lot of numbers – the number of tips, the number of people who possess or distribute abuse material, the number of people we believe pay for direct order abuse from vulnerable countries,” Helge Haugland, section manager for internet-related abuse at the investigation service told newspaper VG

“We have a number of figures, but we do not know how specific it is for the actual extent of sexual abuse online,” Haugland added. 

Police to be armed on May 17th 

Norwegian police will be armed on May 17th, Constitution Day, the Norwegian Police Directorate has said. 

The arming of police wasn’t due to a specific threat but to ensure that police were well prepared and equipped to respond. 

“This is something we take seriously to make sure we have good preparedness on this day,” Benedicte Bjørland from the police directorate said. 

Waiting times of up to ten weeks for a passport this summer 

The police, responsible for passports in Norway, have warned that those who want a new passport are facing waiting times of up to ten weeks this summer. 

“Demand is higher than available production, even with the measures we have implemented. Therefore, it must be expected that the waiting time will increase further in the coming months,” Arne Isak Tveitan from the directorate told broadcaster TV2

The current waiting time is around seven weeks, but this could rise to ten by July. 

ID cards are also facing long waiting times, between four to six weeks, according to the police. 

READ ALSO: How do Norway’s slow passport processing times compare to Denmark and Sweden?

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday 

A proposed change to blood donation rules, parliament demanding an end to passport waiting times and the Bergen International Festival kicking off are among the main stories from Norway. 

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday 

Norway to look at change to blood donation rules

The Ministry of Health wants the Norwegian Directorate of Health to consider changes to the blood donation rules for gay men. 

Current regulations mean that gay men have to wait 12 months since they were last sexually active to donate blood. The same rules do not apply to heterosexual couples. 

“Blood donors make an invaluable contribution to society and to other people. It is important to facilitate that those who can and want to donate blood can do so in a safe way. This means that we must have regulations that are updated on professional knowledge about the risk of who can donate blood,” Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said. 

Parliament demands an end to passport waiting times

A majority in parliament’s Justice Committee supported a proposal to introduce immediate measures to ease lengthy passport waiting times ahead of the summer holidays, NRK writes

The parties in government do not currently support the proposal but are in the minority. The measures will be voted on in parliament on June 2nd. 

So far, the government has extended passport office opening hours and reopened bureaus that were closed under the previous government. 

Norway’s Justice Minister has said that the proposals wouldn’t ease the backlog before the summer as the main issue is suppliers lack of the raw materials used to make the travel documents. 

“This proposal has no bearing on the prospect of delivering more passports before the summer. The government implemented these measures almost three months ago. But, the main problem is that the supplier lacks the components for production. We have extended the opening hours and increased staffing, but this is not where the problem lies now,” Emilie Enger Mehl, Minister of Justice, told NRK. 

READ ALSO: Norwegian police urge travellers not to book holidays without a valid passport

Bergen International Festival starts

Bergen’s annual cultural and music festival commences today. It is the largest festival in the Nordic countries of its type and will run for the next 14 days across the city. 

This afternoon, there will be an opening ceremony for the festival at Torgallmenningen Square. Queen Sonja and the Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre will be in attendence. 

First-quarter losses for budget airline

Budget airline Flyr lost 212 million kroner during the first quarter of 2022, despite passenger revenues of 78 million. 

Despite what the airline described as a challenging market, it believes the future looks promising as summer approaches. Flyr has reported a large number of bookings and has ordered new aircraft. 

Over the last year, the airline lost 419 million kroner.