On Thursday, several top banks in Finland announced that they would give their customers with mortgages a full year off during which no repayment fees would need to be paid. The news is reflected in Friday’s print media, with headlines varying from optimism to naysaying over the intended booster effects to the Finnish economy.
The report of number one daily Helsingin Sanomat claims that the fee-free year would stimulate Finland’s economy. OP chief Reijo Karhinen is quoted as urging his bank’s customers to “seize the opportunity”, and Danske Bank CEO Risto Tornivaara echoed him.
“We want our customers to spend money on things other than their loans,” he says.
The extra year of lowered payments would seem to mean that people would be better off, but economy paper Taloussanomat reins in the joy of a year’s worth of savings. Professor Terhi-Anna Wilska does not believe in a magical stimulus, and goes further.
“Finns have a deep-set rustic mentality that makes them believe everyone has to own a house,” she says.
The entire mortgage base in Finnish banks amounts to some 90 billion euros.
Haglund snipes Russia
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Carl Haglund has caused controversy by saying he “doesn’t trust Russia at all” and would never allow the Finnish purchase of Russian fighter jets.
Turun Sanomat reports that Haglund values technical heft most, even over political or economic concerns, and doubts the quality of Russian planes.
”Russia has severely violated European safety and has flouted international agreements,” Haglund blasted. “Russia says one thing but does another. I do not trust Russia at all, and I could never be in favour of purchasing Russian military jets.”
Popular daily Ilta-Sanomat runs with a main headline decrying the poverty of many elderly Finnish citizens. “Just 100 euros a month for food”, it reads, with one interviewed woman saying her pension does not even cover her necessary medication.
The situation is dire beyond belief, according to ex-MP and nursing care worker Tarja Tallqvist, who says in Ilta-Sanomat that the destitution of the elderly is “shameful”.
“Old people sometimes have to resort to terrible measures to save every penny, like halving their medical dosages or eating potato skins for supper,” Tallqvist paints the dark picture.