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Budget breakdown: How the government's plans will affect life in Finland

Finland's four-party coalition reached agreement on its 2024 budget proposal on Tuesday evening.

Photo shows people walking on the street in Helsinki.
The government's proposals include tax breaks for workers, a drop in fuel prices and more places in higher education. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's (NCP) government has published the details of its first draft budget proposal, which will now be submitted to Parliament for approval.

The plan involves an 11.5-billion-euro deficit next year, as the government aims to balance the books against the backdrop of a gloomy national and global economic outlook.

In this article, Yle News breaks down the details of what's in store for 2024.

1. Tax cuts for workers

The government aims to cut tax on work-based earnings by 100 million euros, with a particular focus on low- and middle-income earners. This measure will reduce earnings taxes by almost 0.5 percentage points on average by the end of this government's term, and by nearly 1 percentage point on annual incomes of between 20,000-25,000 euros.

In addition, workers can expect to pay less in unemployment insurance contributions.

Overall, a person earning around 3,600 euros per month can expect to receive roughly 150 euros more in their take home pay from next year.

However, the government has drawn sharp criticism for not increasing taxes for high-income earners.

2. Drop in fuel prices

The draft budget plan also proposes a reduction in fossil fuel excise duties. The planned tax cut is expected to reduce the price at the pump by about 4.4 cents per litre of petrol and around 4.9 cents per litre of diesel.

3. Break for first-time home buyers

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Kai Mykkänen (NCP), revealed that the maximum borrowing amount under the home savers bonus scheme, also known as the ASP system, will be raised to help first-time buyers purchase their first home.

4. Investments in rail, road projects across Finland

The government plans to launch a road and rail project investment programme, worth a total of four billion euros, during this parliamentary term.

This will include improvements to train tracks around the capital region as well as electrifying the rail line between Tornio and Kolari in Lapland.

The budget allocation will also be invested in repairing and maintaining the nation's road network.

5. Higher education study places

Around 11.7 million euros has been earmarked to help increase the number of study places at Finnish universities in 2024, but a protest by Helsinki University students on Tuesday highlighted the negative impact other budget cut plans could have on students, including cuts to housing benefits.

The government has yet to reveal details on controversial changes to the housing benefit system.

6. Reimbursements for doctor visits will rise

In order to tackle the growing number of patients on waiting lists, the government said it plans to increase reimbursements handed out by social benefits agency Kela for visits to private health care providers.

This measure will include visits to GPs, certain specialists, psychotherapists and dentists for basic check-ups.

In total, the government has allocated 335 million euros over its four-year term in office to improve Kela benefits.

7. State support for regional flights continues

The government proposes continuing to support controversial regional flights until the spring of 2026 with an allocated budget of 38 million euros.

The flights from Helsinki to Kajaani, Jyväskylä, Kokkola-Pietarsaari, Kemi-Tornio and Joensuu airports have caused controversy due to their low passenger numbers and environmental impact — but regional authorities have vehemently opposed suggestions they should be scrapped.

8. More resources to tackle youth crime, addiction

In an effort to reduce youth crime and marginalisation, the government plans to increase resources provided to drug awareness programmes and to projects aimed at preventing young people from turning to crime.

The draft budget increases the police's budget by eight percent compared to this year. Additional funding is also being given to prisons, to develop rehabilitation programmes for prisoners.

9. Feminine hygiene product tax reduced

The amount of VAT charged on menstrual products will be reduced from the current level of 24 percent to 14 percent.

10. Wine prices up, beer prices down

The government plans to raise taxes on spirits and wine, but will lower taxes on beer.

Opposition parties criticise PM Orpo's first budget

Centre Party leader Annika Saarikko, who also served as Finance Minister in the last government, told Yle that the government's budget plan shows that making big changes to the national economy is more difficult than some might have suggested.

"What is perhaps most striking is that reversing the course of the Finnish economy is not as easy [as the NCP stated in the run-up to the parliamentary election]," Saarikko said.

She noted an apparent change in policy by the Finns Party, compared to its pre-election rhetoric, adding her voice to the criticism of the level of budget allocated to healthcare and social services.

"Of particular concern is the government's approach to wellbeing regions and the health of people in Finland. The cutbacks and demands on these services are disproportionate," she said.

The Social Democrat Party's (SDP) parliamentary group chair Tytti Tuppurainen meanwhile noted the budget's increased deficit.

"It seems that Orpo's government cannot get a grip on this economic situation. The budget deficit is higher than before and tax revenues will be even lower than previously feared," she said.

She further added that the government seems to be aiming its biggest cuts at low-income and vulnerable members of society, apparently at the expense of higher-income earners.

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