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Wednesday's papers: Sipilä aide's €40,000 bonus, hidden homeless and cashpoint controversy

On Wednesday the press covers stories ranging from a nice sideline for an aide to PM Juha Sipilä, Nordea's plan to limit free cash withdrawals at ATMs to so-called 'hidden homeless' who go to work every day but don't have a home to come back to.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Several papers cover the news that Juha Sipilä's most senior aide, state secretary Paula Lehtomäki, is to join the board of state ownership company Solidium. She will be paid 40,000 euros a year for this sideline, according to Iltalehti, or 30,000 euros according to Ilta-Sanomat. Either way, it's a nice bonus on top of the former environment minister's 12,000 euros a month salary as the most senior official in the Prime Minister's office.

In Ilta-Sanomat political researcher Erkka Railo says that the move raises questions about what the government owns and why. Solidium's holdings range far and wide, and Sipilä has said he'd like to trim down the portfolio.

Another story that might provoke similar questions is that involving Finnpilot board member Karri Kaitue has resigned. Kaitue, 52, is an experienced board member at numerous firms, and joining the state-owned company that offers ships piloting services was an unsurprising move.

However when he was convicted of piloting his own pleasure boat while under the influence of alcohol in May, his position became untenable. According to the chair of the board Seija Turunen, Kaitue did not inform them until Monday. Perhaps coincidentally, that was the day Iltalehti called him for a comment about the legal proceedings.

Hidden homeless

Homelessness in Finland is not at the same level as in many other countries, but there are some people who lack a secure, stable place to live. Helsingin Sanomat reports on the phenomenon on Wednesday using the case study of 'Jani', who says he earns around 40,000 euros a year, looks clean and smart (according to the story) but still has no apartment to call his own.

His situation deteriorated when he broke up with his then-girlfriend two years ago. He couldn't afford the rent on a place himself, and since then he's been crashing at friends' places and using hotel rooms.

It's a common issue, according to Juha Kääkinen of the Y-Säätiö homeless charity. He estimates that at least a third of Helsinki's 3,550 homeless people do work. Bad credit records are a problem for many of these people, and indeed they are for 'Jani' too--at one stage he had outstanding debts of 10,000 euros put out for collection.

They've now been paid off, but the credit rating remains, and landlords are reluctant to give him a chance.

Even if he does get a place, rising rents present another challenge. One HS graph shows that per-square metre rents in the capital region have risen from just over 10 euros in 2005 to more than 15 in 2015.

Nordea in the spotlight

Both tabloids cover Nordea's move to restrict free cash withdrawals from ATMs. From November the bank will allow four free withdrawals per month and then start to charge 40 cents per withdrawal thereafter.

It says the move is because customers are using cash less, and points out that it will have the same charges for the use of any cash point in the eurozone area. At present the bank charges for some ATMs abroad. Customers will also be able to use any K-Market store to withdraw cash at the checkout.

Iltalehti publishes a broad range of reader comment on the move, most of it negative.

"If it wasn't necessary to use a bank, I wouldn't," said 'Pekka' at the end of a long rant about banks driving a move towards a cashless society.

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