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Gov't leaders pledge focus on employment at 2019 budget talks

Finland's government leaders meet at the Prime Minister's official residence on Wednesday for talks on the 2019 state budget.

Kokoomuksen puheenjohtaja Petteri Orpo, keskustan puheenjohtaja Juha Sipilä ja sinisten puheenjohtaja Sampo Terho hallituksen kehysriihineuvotteluissa Kesärannassa Helsingissä
From left: Finance Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP), Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) and Culture Minister Sampo Terho (Blue). Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

The Finnish government will focus on increasing employment rates in its spending plans for 2019, said leaders of the three government parties as they arrived at the Prime Minister's residence for talks.

"We need to address the labour market mismatch problem," said Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. "The second big thing is what we can do to stop increasing marginalisation in society."

The government had set a target of 72 percent employment rates by the end of its term in office, which is due in 2019. Earlier this year the figure touched 70.9 percent.

Centre Party boss Sipilä also said there was additional funding on the way for transitional training for those switching careers, in a bid to help supply workers for growing companies in Finland.

Finance Minister Petteri Orpo, who also heads up the National Coalition Party, said he was happy with the economic growth forecasts and employment rate improvement, but there was still room for improvement.

The politicians rejected suggestions in the press that the government has around 100 million euros in additional funding to spend thanks to improved state revenues.

Commenting on the budget talks, SDP leader Antti Rinne demanded that the government reconsider its benefit cuts and cancel the controversial activation model aimed at cutting the benefits of unemployed people who don't meet certain conditions.

Cabinet ministers are expected to agree the budget over two days of wrangling at the Prime Minister's residence, but taxation decisions are off the agenda. Those changes are expected to be finalised in the autumn, just a few months before the next parliamentary election.

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