Issues and controversies concerning the government's proposed state budget has weakened employers' confidence in the government, according to a new survey by business lobby the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK).
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of more than 1,100 employers who took part in the survey said their confidence in the government's ability to promote entrepreneurship was 'weak' or 'very weak'. In a similar survey carried out last month, only 56 percent of employers held the same opinion.
Last week, the Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) administration unveiled a 64.2 billion euro spending package for 2021, including extra funding that would reduce daycare fees, an aid package for municipalities, as well as plans to invest tens of millions in getting the increasing number of the country's unemployed back to work.
Also last week, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) said that he fears there will be further industrial plant closures seen in the country, like the shutdown of a paper mill in Jämsä and the expected closure of an oli refinery in Naantali.
Many respondents to the EK survey said that the government's budget proposal did not encourage growth, investment and employment. Roughly one-third said they thought the proposal would actually weaken such opportunities, while just four percent said they thought such possibilities would be strengthened by it.
The EK's chief policy adviser, Jari Huovinen, told Yle that the government's budget plans provided an inadequate number of concrete decisions that would help Finland out of its economic crisis.
"Decisions that would boost employment and make things easier for employers," Huovinen specified.
However, even faced with the poor economic climate largely caused by the coronavirus crisis, Marin's government has to date still received more positive feedback from businesses than her predecessor Antti Rinne did during his tenure as premier.
Bankruptcy fears down
The EK survey found that the economic situation has comparatively improved for many firms. Four percent of respondents said they were worried about going bankrupt, while a month ago that figure was around eight percent.
More than half (56%) of the employers said they were operating at full staffing levels, while an additional 11 percent said they were considering additional hiring.
However, despite those promising indicators, Huovinen said it was not time for celebration just yet.
"If we compare the current situation with how it was before the coronavirus crisis, it is difficult. Now, for example, six percent of companies said they plan to expand their operations, under normal circumstances that proportion would likely be greater," he said.
The Confederation of Finnish Industries' survey queried 1,154 employers, including entrepreneurs and business leaders on 17-18 September 2020.