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Draft budget: Less for education, more for political parties

Government ministries will continue negotiations with the finance minister on the budget proposal until the end of August.

 Vuoden 2020 talousarvioehdotuksen neuvottelut käynnissä Espoossa 13. elokuuta.
The 2020 draft budget negotiations were held in Espoo. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Antti Rinne's government published an outline of its draft 2020 budget on Friday after three days of internal cabinet negotiations in Espoo.

The proposal, if approved, would see the Ministry of Education receive significantly less money than it requested for the continued funding of universities and polytechnics in Finland. Meanwhile financial support for political parties – in the form of party subsidies – would be increased.

Finance Minister Mika Lintilä plans to allocate an additional 10 million euros to Finland's universities, on top of the 2019 allocation, with an extra five million granted to polytechnics. However, these figures fall far short of the Ministry of Education and Culture's request for an additional 40 million euros for universities and 20 million for polytechnics.

Increased government spending on education had been a central part of the programme for government, announced by Prime Minister Rinne at the beginning of June.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy, which had requested an increase of 17 million euros to its share of the budget in order to cover wage subsidies, will only receive 10 million euros if the draft budget is passed in its present form.

Party subsidies set to increase

The draft budget also proposes raising the amount of party subsidies to 36 million euros next year, up from 29 million euros in 2019 – an increase of about one fifth. Party subsidies are annual grants from the government to political parties based on the number of seats each holds in Parliament.

The party subsidy allocation was reduced in the early days of former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's administration, dropping to 32 million euros in 2015 from 34 million euros the year before.

The finance minister also proposes an increase in the allocation of salaries for parliamentary assistants' salaries in next year's budget. Tabloid daily Iltalehti recently revealed that Finland is spending upwards of 500,000 euros every month on the salaries of state secretaries and ministerial aides.

Negotiations between the various ministries and the finance minister over the proposed budget will continue through the end of August, with a final draft expected by mid-September, shortly after Parliament reconvenes after its summer break.

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