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Finance minister says next year's budget deficit 'much larger than €7bn'

Budget talks are scheduled to continue until Tuesday, but the PM has said they could drag on beyond that.

Pääministeri Sanna Marin ja valtiovarainministeri Matti Vanhanen tapasivat tiedotusvälineiden edustajia Säätytalon portailla Helsingissä 14. syyskuuta 2020.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and Minister of Finance Matti Vanhanen early Monday evening on the steps of the House of Estates in Helsinki. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) five-party coalition government began negotiations on next year's state budget on Monday. The talks have been expected to be particularly difficult due to economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis.

On Monday evening Marin said the government discussed issues including employment plans, the economic situation of municipalities, energy taxation as well as the funding of organisations that receive support from state gambling monopoly Veikkaus, which has seen heavy financial losses during the crisis.

Marin said progress has been made in budget talks among the five party coalition but noted that the budget is still an open issue. TaMarin said the announcement made by fuel firm Neste about plans to cut up to 470 jobs in Naantali was "unfortunate."

"It is an unfortunate thing and I have talked with Naantali's mayor. I sent the same message as I have to [other regions affected by major layoff plans], that the state wants to offer support. [The plans] affect many people, I have talked with other minister and we are looking for solutions for the region," she said.

During a break in Monday's negotiations, finance minister Matti Vanhanen (Cen) said next year's budget deficit will be significantly larger next year than the ministry had anticipated.

Vanhanen said that because of unforeseen, and still largely unknown, expenditures on coronavirus testing and vaccine efforts, meant that there will be a budget deficit in excess of seven billion euros.

The negotiations will also include discussions about how to distribute funds from the EU's three-billion-euro coronavirus stimulus package.

The negotiations were scheduled to continue on Monday evening and then resume on Tuesday, but Marin said last week that the talks could drag on into Wednesday.

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