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Thursday's papers: Cost-of-living support, visa restrictions and trendy non-alcoholic drinks

Iltalehti reports that while details are still being ironed out, the government will announce a series of measures to help consumers deal with rising prices on Thursday afternoon.

The government is expected to announce a new purchasing power package on Thursday. Image: Galaxi / Yle

Based on information from cabinet sources, Iltalehti tells readers (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the government will announce two major aid packages on Thursday.

According to this paper's sources, the coalition's five parties achieved a significant political agreement on Wednesday evening during negotiations at the prime minister's residence, Kesäranta.

Iltalehti writes that the government is preparing two large aid packages to make everyday life easier for Finns as prices rise - an "electricity package" and a "purchasing power package".

The electricity package consists of a reduction in VAT on electricity from 24 to 10 percent, relief in the form of a tax deduction, and a form of support aimed at lower-income consumers, including, for example, pensioners.

The purchasing power package includes a double child benefit payment for December, a reduction in early childhood education fees and other changes related to social benefits.

Iltalehti says that while the outlines of the packages were fixed in Wednesday evening talks, the details still have to be worked out before an announcement later on Thursday.

Government sources told the paper that the administration has had difficulties finding ways to target these measures for middle-income residents living in electrically heated homes without at the same time creating a support model benefiting people with higher incomes who can manage their bills.

Visa restrictions on Russians

Finland is limiting the number of entry visas issued to Russians, as of today, Thursday.

Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) carries a STT Finnish new agency report that the number of applications for tourist visas by Russians is now restricted to around 100 per day, approximately one-tenth of the previous volume. An average of 400 appointments a day will be available for applicants seeking visas for other reasons, such as family ties, work or study.

The Finnish government approved a decision on restricting visas issued to Russians in mid-August.

A new class of visas, a humanitarian visa, is currently being designed to allow entry to Russian human rights activists as well as journalists or citizens critical of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Drinking trend

According to Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun), the popularity of non-alcoholic drinks as an option during an evening out is a global trend that is also clearly visible in Finnish bars and restaurants.

The paper spoke to several restaurateurs, including Laura Styyra of Helsinki's Restaurant Kuurna who said that she has noticed that the consumption of alcohol at dinner has also decreased in Finland. For example, her restaurant now has a larger selection of non-alcoholic beers than alcoholic ones.

"This is a positive challenge for the entire industry—how we can provide the same experiences without alcohol as with alcohol," Styyra told HS.

This trend is also evident in sales by the state retail chain Alko, according to Taina Vilkuna, the company's product communication manager.

Alko sold approximately 168,000 litres of alcohol-free products in 2012. In the past decade, sales and selection have grown enormously. In 2021, Alko sold more than 664,000 litres of all alcohol-free products.

Among non-alcoholic wines, the most popular are sparkling wines.

"A welcoming drink used to be just a basic soda. Nowadays many people have shifted to, for example, domestically-made non-alcoholic berry sparkling wines," Vilkuna noted.

Sales and selection of non-alcoholic beers have grown the fastest. Almost a third more non-alcoholic beers are available in Finland now than just a couple of years ago.

Jalonen eyeing the NHL

Helsinki's Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun)asks whether the next ice hockey World Cup could lead to a job in the NHL for the head coach of Finland's national team, Jukka Jalonen.

Under Jalonen, the Finnish Lions have won an Olympic gold, two World Cup golds and one World Cup silver over the last four seasons. Jalonen has also led the national team to a World Cup gold in 2011 and the juniors' team to a World Cup gold in 2016.

On Wednesday, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association announced that it had extended his contract to run through the 2023–24 season.

This next season, Hufvudstadsbladet writes, will be a great platform for Jalonen to showcase his skills to the North Americans and above all the hockey bosses of the NHL.

The paper says it's no secret that Jalonen has a dream to coach in the NHL. Both his previous and the new contract with the hockey association contain an NHL clause that makes it possible for him to leave the national team assignment if he gets a job in the North American league.

Hufvudstadsbladet does point out, however, that the NHL is extremely conservative when it comes to coaches and it is extremely difficult for new talent, especially Europeans, to break into the league. In that respect, it says, the 2024 World Cup could be a last chance for Jalonen to show his skills and convince club directors in the NHL that he is a card worth betting on.

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