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Friday's papers: Stolen electric bikes, asylum places needed, plumbing prices

The week's final review of Finland's dailies looks at 20,000 bicycles gone missing, municipalities reluctant to offer a home to refugees and pipe renovation cost differences.

Newspapers Friday 13.1.2016
This Friday's dailies look at mystery import figures, municipal asylum and plumbing. Image: Yle

Tabloid Iltalehti reports that Finnish Customs has a mystery on its hands: just under 20,000 electric bicycles from China were declared in 2016, but nobody knows where they are.

The amount is more than ten times the number of electric bikes imported the previous year. Fourteen other countries also import electrically enhanced bicycles to Finland, but only as individual units or batches of some dozens, nowhere near the figures now presented in Iltalehti.

"There has to be some mistake. That's an absurd number," says CEO Jani Jokinen from specialist retailer Electrobike.

Fewer than 50 fast electric bikes were sold in Finland last year, Jokinen says. Electric bicycles are counted as fast one their motor is able to reach velocities of 45 km/h, even uphill. You need a driver's license and motor insurance just to drive such a beast, IL writes.

The alleged massive shipment of electric bikes would total some 68 million euros when sold, but such a transaction going unnoticed within the industry would be unlikely.

The EU encourages imports of electric bikes by adding only a 6 percent import tax and altogether waiving some other taxes. IL tells us that by bringing in bicycles under the guise of being electric can save some 56 percent in customs fees – and would constitute fraud.

Finnish Customs has not yet launched an investigation into the seeming scam, the paper writes.

Municipalities reluctant to take refugees before elections

Figures gathered by top daily Helsingin Sanomat from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment show that only three economic development (ELY) areas out of 15 have reached or exceeded the minimum number of refugee placements required by the Ministry.

The areas to succeed in their policy moves are North Karelia, South Savo and Lapland.

Municipalities, HS writes, have promised to accept a total of 2,500 refugees this year – which is still far below the Employment Ministry's quota of 4,000 placements. The number is likely to rise past 3,000 according to the ministry's integration chief Tarja Rantala.

"The municipal elections are in early April, so that will probably slow down the decision-making a bit," she says in HS. "The issue will be taken over by the next council."

Municipalities must organise housing, social services and health care for refugees they accept, but HS reports that many are reluctant to make the decision to accept refugees ahead of the local elections next month.

Leaky pipes

And finally daily Ilta-Sanomat returns to a favourite pet peeve of Finns: large-scale plumbing renovations and their surprisingly high cost.

A new study by the Finnish Real Estate Management Federation shows wild fluctuations in plumbing pricing when comparing the capital region to the rest of the country. Things that affect the price include the renovation methods employed, the age, size and type of the location as well as the extent of the job.

The real estate federation puts the price range at between less than 100 euros and 1,000 euros per square metre. Comparisons aren't a good idea to everyone.

"It's no use contrasting prices and schedules, when the fact is that each housing association gets the kind of renovation that its board agrees upon," specialist Pekka Harjunkoski says.

The federation tells IS that the rise in prices will not grow steeper in the near future.

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