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Daily: Former Labour Minister's aide demands funding cuts to immigrant NGOs

A former aide to Labour Minister Jari Lindström says he was only following orders when he called on ministry officials to cut funding to NGOs that assist immigrant children. According to daily Helsingin Sanomat, officials prevented ex-ministerial aide Sakari Puisto from pulling financial support from a total of six NGOs.

Ex-ministerial aide Sakari Puisto reportedly tried to pull funding from NGOs working to assist immigrant children. Image: YLE

Ministerial officials have intervened to prevent an aide to Finns Party Labour Minister Jari Lindström, from cutting funding to NGOs that assist immigrant children. According to the Finnish news agency STT, ex-ministerial aide Sakari Puisto said that that he was only following orders when he proposed the measure.

A former aide to Finns Party Labour Minister Jari Lindström says he "wasn't flying solo" when he called for two Somali NGOs to be stripped of state financial support in January. Ex-aide Sakari Puisto told the Finnish news agency STT that he had discussed the matter normally as a special aide. However he would not say whether or not the instruction came from the Labour Minister.

"What I can say is that I wasn’t flying solo on anything, rather I was folllowing orders," Puisto declared.

On Monday daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that Puisto wanted to pull financial assistance from two Somali-background grassroots organisations, without any apparent rationale.

The organisations provide assistance for immigrant children, young adults and mothers.

Officials: No justification for the decision

"I received information about the matter from officials at the time and paid special attention to the proposals for funding. After that I discussed the matter normally as a special adviser. I can’t comment any further, because my discharge is still being processed," Puisto said.

Puisto was sacked from the position after his boss, labour Minister Jari Lindström swapped the Finns Party parliamentary group for the New Alternative.

According to HS, officials in the Ministry of Labour and the Economy felt that they had been subjected to harsh political control when Puisto received their proposal and indicated he wanted to discontinue funding for a total of six NGOs. The officials said however, that there was no justification for the decision to pull financial assistance. They also pointed out that cutting the aid would have been questionable from an equality perspective.

The paper wrote that in the end, one Somali NGO was dropped from the list after some deliberation, but Puisto became upset because the officials did not follow his instructions.

Ministry Permanent Secretary Jari Gustafsson told the paper that Lindström had said that political controls need to be respected and that officials should obey ministers. Gustafsson said that he considered the entire case to be outrageous.

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