PM Marin slams Centre Party Minister over culture cuts

The PM said she did not understand why the list of cuts was publicised on Tuesday when coalition leaders were still to resolve the issue.

Antti Kurvinen (Cen, left) and Sanna Marin (SDP) Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle ja Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has criticised her Culture Minister Antti Kurvinen (Cen) for publishing a list of spending cuts even though he knew the government was already planning to revisit them.

"I would have hoped that this week we would not have upset the sector and its operators because we are in any case going to resolve this situation," said Marin.

The specific cuts were announced by Kurvinen on Tuesday, but by Thursday leaders of three of the five parties in government had said they want a re-think.

Spending on youth work, the arts, sport and culture would contract under Kurvinen's plan for spending in 2022, which contained cuts totalling 43 million euros to spending on culture, science, the arts, youth work and sport.

The biggest single cut of 18.4 million euros was to art and culture.

'Careful message' to sector

They stem from a reduction in income for the state betting and lottery firm Veikkaus, whose profits are earmarked to fund cultural and sporting activities along with non-governmental organisations.

Marin said that when Kurvinen invited culture sector organisations to hear about the list of spending cuts, he knew the five leaders of government parties planned to revisit the plan.

The five will gather on Friday for a meeting agreed between Centre party leader Annika Saarikko and Marin last week. Kurvinen sent out invitations on Friday for his announcement of the cuts which, apparently, were not certain to be implemented.

"Myself I have been quite careful about what kind of message it sends to the culture sector when this issue is in any case being resolved by coalition party leaders," said Marin.

No promises

For his part, Kurvinen says that his ministry had received a request for the list from parliament, so it was going to be made public anyway.

On Thursday Saarikko, who is Finance Minister as well as Centre leader, said that she could not promise that all of the cuts would be reversed.

The splits in the government had come into full public view on Thursday, when Marin tweeted her desire to reverse them.

"I'll say it straight," tweeted (siirryt toiseen palveluun) Marin. "The SDP wants to reverse these culture sector cuts. We also need to resolve the situation of other organisations and beneficiaries."

On Wednesday evening Li Andersson, the leader of the Left Alliance, had appeared on Yle's A-Studio programme urging a reversal of the cuts. On Thursday Green chair Maria Ohisalo joined the chorus, saying her party wanted to see funding maintained.

The Centre Party, on the other hand, criticised the premier. Jouni Ovaska, a Centre MP from Pirkanmaa, tweeted (siirryt toiseen palveluun) "I'll say it straight. Your credibility is slipping away."

Two other Centre MPs also sent out press releases criticising the premier, while Marin herself said the governing parties had agreed in principle to revisit the cuts before Kurvinen announced his plan.

The cuts prompted widespread criticism from the culture sector, with threats of job losses and services contracting due to the austerity measures.