Morning Briefing – Thursday, August 8

The Copenhagen Post’s daily digest of what the Danish press is reporting

Big builder collapses
Even as the property market was witnessing the first stirrings of a rebound, Sjælsø, one of the country’s most prominent property development firms has announced that it is seeking bankruptcy protection. Sjælsø lost 500 million kroner in 2012 alone, and its overall debt had reached a reported 3 billion kroner. During the height of the construction boom of the 2000s, the firm, which was responsible for development of some of the city’s most recognisable buildings, was worth an estimated 6 billion kroner. Analysts referred to Sjælsø’s fall as the last big collapse of the Great Recession. – Berlingske Business

Disingenuous Afghanistan debate
Military experts are accusing parliament of keeping silent about the failures of the War in Afghanistan. They say that by claiming to shelter soldiers and the families of deceased service members from a potentially divisive discussion, politicians effectively shut down any meaningful debate over the military’s 12-year military presence in Afghanistan. “At some point or another, people are going to realise that this was just a way to avoid a discussion,” Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, of the University of Copenhagen, said. Danish forces began their final withdrawal from Afghanistan last month. Forty-three Danish service members died while stationed in Afghanistan. – DR Nyheder

Tax cuts attract highly skilled workers
The special tax break offered highly skilled foreigners working in Denmark is a success, according to a report to be published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics and supported by tax data and the experience of businesses. According to Skat, the national tax agency, the number of highly skilled foreigners qualifying for the tax cut rose 23 percent in 2012, to 4,703. Without the tax cut, Skat calculates that there would only be half as many such individuals. Dansk Erhverv, a business lobby, proposes reducing the minimum qualifying salary from the current 63,900 kroner a month. – Børsen  

Faroes want improved EU trade relations
Despite facing EU sanctions for violating fishing quotas, the Faroe Islands say they would like to become a part of the union’s single market for goods and services. The Faroes are a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but not a member of the EU, meaning the self-governing territories do not gain the same favourable access to markets in EU states as Denmark does. By renegotiating its relationship to Brussels, the self-governing territory hopes it can be granted the same terms as EU members. – Politiken

Pay as I say, not as I do
A majority of Danes say that paying someone under the table is not just illegal, it is also immoral. Sixty-two percent of respondents in a recent You-Gov survey agreed that it was wrong to buy a good or service without paying taxes on it. Twenty-four percent said they felt it was their duty to make sure that the person they were paying declared the income to tax authorities. The results represent something of a change of heart for Danish taxpayers. Other studies confirm that undeclared work is no longer as accepted as it once was. But according to Camilla Hvidtfeldt, of the Rockwool Foundation, half of Danes still admit to paying someone under the table for a service or good. – Kristeligt Dagblad

Fewer complaints over workmen
One of the silver linings of the economic downturn for homeowners may be that carpenters and other workmen are doing a better job. Since 2009, the number of complaints over shoddy work has fallen by 80 percent, according to Byggeriets Evaluerings Center (BEC), a research institute for the construction industry. The most likely explanation, according to Peter Hesforf, the head of BEC, is that as homeowners began to hire fewer workmen, those that did land jobs needed were more focused on the quality of their work. –