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Tuesday's papers: Push for tougher racism laws, healthcare payment ceiling and colder weather

Helsingin Sanomat reports that the EU Commission is upping pressure on Finland to pass tougher laws against racism and xenophobia.

A law book and a judge's gavel.
A law book and a judge's gavel. The EU Commission says Finland's current criminal code regarding racism does not fulfill EU obligations. Image: Yle
Yle News

The Finnish government is being pushed to tighten criminal law to combat racism and xenophobia, writes Helsingin Sanomat.

The EU Commission started a formal infringement procedure against Finland two years ago, because in its view, the current criminal code does not fulfill EU obligations. The Commission's stand is that the law on incitement against an ethnic group is too narrowly defined. Discussions between Finland and the Commission are still ongoing.

According to HS, the current government has no concrete plans to propose tougher laws in this regard, and the matter is not part of its legislative agenda. On the contrary, the Finns Party, one of the government coalition partners, has demanded that the definition of incitement be further narrowed.

In August, the government parties issued a joint statement on eradicating racism and promoting equality in Finnish society.

Under the previous government, preliminary plans were drawn up to present parliament with legislation that would have come into effect in mid-2024 making the legal definition of incitement more explicit in criminal law.

Rescheduling elections

Karjalainen is among the papers carrying a report that the party secretaries of the main governing parties would be ready to discuss moving the date of the parliamentary elections from April back to March.

Voting in parliamentary elections was shifted from March to April in 2010. The move was made in the hopes of generating higher turnout on election day.

According to National Coalition Party secretary Kristiina Kokko, the later election date has been found to raise problems in terms of government formation, the appointment of the government and the national budget process.

Finns Party secretary Harri Vuorenpää told the Uutissuomalainen news group that his party is ready to discuss the issue.

The idea has taken off after Minister of Social Security Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP) took up the issue in an online posting in which she argued that moving the elections back to March would give new governments more time to prepare their first budget and would also enable longer consultation periods on planned legislation.

The smaller governing parties, the Swedish People's Party and Christian Democrats, have rejected the idea and the political opposition is also reported to be reluctant to make the change.

Watch your payments

Aamulehti tells readers that they would be wise to keep track of payments they make for healthcare and social services to ensure they don't start paying more than required.

There is an annual payment ceiling of 692 euros, the maximum amount that can be charged annually per person for public social services and healthcare. After that ceiling has been hit, clients in the public sector are entitled to no-charge or reduced-price services.

The paper points out that what is now causing confusion over payments is that various computer systems within the country's welfare counties are not able to communicate with each other.

Pirkanmaa welfare county customer payment manager Mari Kallinen told Aamulehti that each municipality may have up to three different customer information or patient information systems, for example one for dental services and another for all other patient information.

She advised users of public services to keep track of what they have paid and if they suspect that they are being charged after reaching the ceiling to contact the customer services number or email on their invoice.

Pricey supermarket scam

Ilta-Sanomat tells the tale of how the dishonesty of a supermarket customer boosted the price of a salad portion from less than 10 euros to over 345.

On the evening of 9 June, the 59 year-old woman went to the Postitalo K-Supermarket in the centre of Helsinki, boxed up choices from the market's salad bar, weighed them, printed out a price tag, then went back to add more.

She was detained after passing through the checkout line and charged with petty fraud, convicted and fined 336 euros in addition to the full 9.35 euro price of her salad.

The supermarket manager, Mikko Länsiluoto, told IS that the practice is unfortunately common at the self-service salad bar. Starting this past summer all purchases from the bar have been re-weighed at checkout.

Getting colder

At the same time as southern Europe is sweltering in an autumn heatwave, the latest monthly forecast here in Finland is for considerably cooler than average weather.

Iltalehti quotes Foreca Meteorologist Anna Latvala as saying that some of the rain in this week's forecast will come down as sleet or snow, especially in northern parts of the country.

Nighttime snowfall is likely to be seen this week in central regions and the thermometer may dip below freezing at night in the south, as well.

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