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Friday's papers: Budget blues, immigration views, tax inspectors and moped cars

Many of Friday's papers chew on Thursday's parliamentary debate in which the opposition slammed the government for trimming child allowance benefits. Otherwise, dailies contemplated a Finns Party survey of attitudes to Finnish immigration policy, efforts to enforce tighter rules on issuing payment receipts and how an insurance bill can change a small cheap vehicle into a big ticket item.

Lähikuva Helsingin Sanomien tabloidikokoisesta lehdestä.
Image: Yle

The country’s largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat devotes its politics pages (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to print coverage of Thursday’s parliamentary session, in which the opposition Finns and Centre parties took the government to task for the draconian impact of its austerity budget on the poor.

The paper highlights a counterproposal by Centre Party chair Juha Sipilä to the government’s planned 110 million euros in cuts to child benefits. According to HS, Sipilä has proposed a 45-cent increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes as an alternative to reduced funding for child subsidies.

Sipilä said that he had discussed the proposal with heavy smokers in Kajaani, who all said they’d be willing to pay more for smoking if it would help protect the child allowance.

Budget bites into pension increases

Elsewhere, the Helsinki-based daily looks at how the draft budget has taken a bite out of proposed increases in retirement benefits (siirryt toiseen palveluun), reducing a proposed hike in benefits from 1.5 percent to 0.4 percent. The decision also extends to pensions paid by private pension companies.

The paper quotes the Finnish Centre for Pensions, which has estimated that pensioners will be short 150 million euros based on the smaller 0.4-percent increase.

The cutback will have a knock-on effect for municipalities, who will see their tax incomes shrink by some 100 million euros as a result.

Like other dailies, HS also previews a parliamentary confidence vote in the government tabled by the opposition and due to take place Friday.

Finns Party looks at attitudes to immigration policy

Most dailies also report Friday on a survey conducted by the pollster Taloustutkimus and commissioned by the immigration-skeptical opposition Finns Party looking at attitudes to immigration policy.

The tabloid daily Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports a slightly less edgy opposition to foreign-background residents than a previous poll conducted in 2010, when 97 percent of Finns Party supporters said that Finland’s immigration policy was somewhat or very lax. This time around, the proportion who held that view was 86 percent.

The poll found that among the general population 51 percent of respondents agreed that Finnish immigration policy wasn’t firm enough. However just eight percent said they would tighten requirements for the entry of foreigners or immigrants wishing to enter Finland, compared to 19 percent of Finns Party backers.

Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-Aho, who has been convicted of racial agitation for blog writings, speculated that Finland’s economic situation and bailout packages for European crisis economies may have drawn voters’ attention away from issues such as immigration policy.

Tax inspectors sweep, find disappointing results

Hailing from Turku, southwest Finland, Turun Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) delves into attempts by Finnish tax authorities to gauge the implementation of new legislation compelling small businesses to provide customer receipts.

The paper reports on a nationwide sweep by the Finnish Tax Administration in March of over 1,000 small businesses with annual turnover not exceeding 150,000 euros. The tax inspectors were checking to see whether these businesses provided customers with receipts and whether or not receipts conformed to the Administration’s guidelines.

The spot checks found that just 350 businesses operated as they should. More than 40 companies did not issue any customer receipts while the inspectors were present. Chief inspector Liisi Peltokorpi told the paper that the findings came as a surprise.

Small vehicle, big insurance bill

Tampere's widely read paper Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) looks at the state of insurance for moped cars, noting that insurance compensation claims were paid out to more than one-third of the nation’s moped cars last year.

The paper notes that although small, repairing the micro vehicles is very costly, and many involved in road accidents are written off as a result. The numbers show that moped cars are written off ten times more than regular passenger cars.

Moreover if a 16-year old driver is injured while driving such a vehicle and is unable to work, he or she is entitled to lifetime compensation. All this makes for very high insurance payments for moped cars, the paper writes – annual insurance bills may reach as high as 5,000 euros.

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