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Wednesday's papers: Capital focus, foundation scandal, and demands for more cuts

Wednesday's newspapers include an impassioned plea for more focus on Helsinki in political decision-making, a scandal at a Swedish-language educational foundation, and a demand from a former Finance Minister that the government make bigger cuts to public spending.

Kehärata, Helsinki-Vantaa, liukuportaat,
An editorial in Iltalehti calls for more infrastructure spedning in the Helsinki area, while lauding the ring rail line that connected the airport to the rail network. Image: Liikennevirasto

Iltalehti runs an editorial on Wednesday expressing a wish that Finland would focus a little more on the populous south, and a little less on the emptier hinterlands of the north and east. The country's 'Centre of Population', that is, the point that is closest on average to every resident of the country, is in Hauho, south Häme--just over a hundred kilometres north of the south coast.

Given that Finland is more than a thousand kilometres from top to bottom, that gives some idea of where most people live. And yet, moans Iltalehti, we are now in the midst of a reform that will establish 18 theoretically equal regional governments. The majority of them are likely to be dominated by the Centre Party, while in the southern cities the National Coalition, SDP and Greens hold sway.

Iltalehti argues that Helsinki's role as a driver of economic growth is crucial, and that infrastructure spending in the capital has had a knock-on effect nationwide. With that in mind, the paper suggests that the proposed Tallinn tunnel, and major investment in commuter rail services, are fully justified.

After all, argues IL, Helsinki's competitors are similar European cities. Building infrastructure there is a boost for the whole country, according to IL.

Apartment perk withdrawn

The private world of Swedish-language foundations has been in the news this week after it emerged that the CEO of the Swedish educational foundation SFV was granted the right to live in a flat owned by the foundation.

It's a 300 square metre, split-level apartment in one of Helsinki's most exclusive neighbourhoods, and as such could bring in more than a hundred thousand euros per year in rent--and many observers felt that would have been a better move for a foundation dedicated to fundraising for worthy causes.

Hufvudstadsbladet on Wednesday reports that the CEO, Johan Aura, will not now get to move in to the luxury flat on Yrjönkatu. He tells the paper that it 'was never optimal for my needs', and that he'll now move somewhere else after listening to feedback from the public.

Ex-Minister: Cut harder, faster

The government started out in 2015 with a programme of austerity and belt-tightening, and was criticised for many of the cuts. Less funding for public services and benefits is always a difficult sell, but Ilta-Sanomat carries another opinion on Wednesday: that Finland isn't cutting hard enough or fast enough.

National Coalition politician Iiro Viinanen, who served as Finance Minister in the 1990s, tells the paper that much more needs to be done. He tells IS that Finland is taking on debt at a higher rate than most other European countries, and that the government should cut more from social benefits to encourage unemployed people to work.

Viinanen said that the Prime Minister's view that no further cuts are necessary is quite normal, as the main government party is sure to present an overly-rosy picture of the economy ahead of elections.

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