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Friday’s papers: Basic income trial results, layoff season and Finnish-Swedish defence

Experts say higher income taxes are inevitable if Finland adopts basic income, layoffs are in the air and Finland and Sweden cosy up on defence cooperation.

Eeva Repo tutkii vihannespussia kaupassa.
Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

Initial findings from Finland’s basic income trial will be published on Friday, reports agricultural newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Heikki Ervasti, a social policy professor at Turku University, told MT that the trial should have been broader and extended beyond two years for more accurate results.

Social benefits agency Kela's experiment, which has drawn global interest, selected 2,000 unemployed people at random to receive 560 euros tax-free every month. Participants were able to work alongside receiving the money, or even start their own businesses.

MT writes that adopting a basic income system would significantly increase income taxation. The 19-billion-euro expenditure would be covered by a 43 percent flat tax rate, according to Minna Punakallio, chef economist with the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

Layoffs in the air this spring

Several major Finnish companies have announced layoff talks in recent weeks.

Sami Pakarinen, Chief Economic Policy Advisor with the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), told business magazine Talouselämä that businesses are reacting to a slowdown in global economic growth and weakened export prospects.

Nokia Tyres and IT company Tieto have announced layoff talks affecting 500 and 700 employees respectively, while food company HKScan and technology firm Wärtsilä are both looking to slash 1,200 people from payroll.

Cutbacks by Posti, Valio, Nokia and Atria will also affect hundreds of workers.

Finland and Sweden intensify defence cooperation

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said he will discuss security policy with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Friday in Helsinki, a sign of deepened defence cooperation between the countries since Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014, according to national daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Hultqvist has met one-on-one with his Finnish counterpart, Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö, 49 times. As non-NATO members, good relations with the United States have formed the basis of the Nordic neighbours’ defence policy, writes HS. Hultqvist told the paper that Sweden's relations with the US are stronger now than they were four years ago, highlighting that the US has increased participation in military training exercises in northern Europe.

In March, 1,550 Finnish troops will travel to Sweden for a military training exercise dubbed 'Nordic Wind'.

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