Over the past four years the amount of support granted to big business has inflated by hundreds of millions of euros. Government support has grown by 85 percent since 2009, when it stood at 522 million euros.
Mika Maliranta, research director at the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA), says that aid to companies is commonly thought of as a job saving measure. However, he says that sometimes government aid is just an expensive case of flogging a dead horse.
“Safeguarding employment fails quite often,” says Maliranta. “It’s supported and supported and at the end of the day the supported company still falls.”
Viking Line in consistent need of buoying up
In recent years the shipping company Viking Line has been on the receiving end of the lion’s share of subsidies – relying on some 50 million euros of public support, most of which was funneled into environmental investment aid related to the construction of the Viking-Grace.
The public assistance payout in the form of environmental aid for Viking Line more than doubled on the previous year.
The shipping industry also took the other places on the podium in terms of receiving public aid. The cash boost to struggling shipbuilder STX increased to 26 million euros while Tallink Silja’s level of support remained unchanged at 15 million euros.
The list of the Top-20 beneficiaries consists largely of various shipping companies, in addition to wind power companies, which is somewhat of a new phenomenon.
Nokia still on the receiving end
Some traditional beneficiaries can still be found on the list. Nokia and its network company Nokia Solutions and Networks attracted subsidies of around 11 million euros last year – an amount which is seen from a company point of view as fairly standard.
UPM rose to the top of the list of forestry businesses to gain support. It recently announced sweeping staff cuts and production downtime.
In recent years politicians have shown a desire to decrease state subsidies for businesses. According to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, national business subsidies are decreasing, but various renewable energy production subsidies are presently raising monetary sums so that, in aggregate, they will continue to rise in coming years.