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Monday's papers: Swedish asylum policy, Alko monopoly future, skyscraper colour conundrum

The week in Finland's print news begins with items on Swedish immigration law, alcohol monopoly Alko's future and the country's tallest building.

What would Alko deregulation to do Finland's alcohol culture? Image: Sasha Silvala / Yle

Finland may attract more asylum seekers as Sweden moves to tighten its own policies, according to chief Jarmo Vuorio from the Interior Ministry's immigration unit.

Local paper Aamulehti writes that Sweden's PM Stefan Löfven announced on Friday that his government wants to permanently apply limitations to previous asylum policy that were introduced during refugee arrivals in 2015 . This, the Ministry says, may cause increased interest in Finland among people seeking asylum the world over.

"The measure may especially affect asylum seekers who leave their home country based on the pitching tactics of local people smugglers," says Vuorio in AL.

Sweden's tightening policy is due to the country's dissatisfaction with current EU-wide quotas. The new law would make it more difficult for asylum seekers in Sweden to receive permanent residence permits or reunite splintered families.

Vuorio says he actually considers Sweden's current immigration policy to be tougher than Finland's; here the asylum residence period is some four years, whereas in Sweden people can stay for only three years (based on asylum) or even just one year, before being deported or classed as permanent residents.

Vuorio says in AL that even though Finland may come to appear more welcoming in comparison to the proposed Swedish changes, no significant rise in immigration should be expected.

"Border checks keep the number down and allow for repatriation under the Dublin Regulation," he says.

Alko demonopolised?

Meanwhile tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that the National Coalition Party is calling for the deregulation of Finland's national alcohol monopoly, Alko.

Alko stores are the only place in Finland where spirits and drinks above 5.5 percent alcohol may be purchased, with a few microbrewery and fruit-based wine sale exceptions. All that would change with demonopolisation.

"The Alko monopoly is a stuffy and indefensible remnant of the 1970s," NCP youth group leader Henrik Vuornos is quoted in IS. "We hope that next election season we can move toward a new alcohol politics."

National Coalition Party MPs including Sinuhe Wallinheimo and Jaana Pelkonen say that a step-by-step dismantling of the monopoly would be necessary, and that the Alko limited company would be retained in some form. The main issue that the NCP cites is that a monopoly is no longer defensible as a system for increased welfare.

"This is an issue that interests Finns all over," says Pelkonen. "That's why we have to move forward to find the right methods and timetables for this proposal."

Off-colour high-rise

Lastly daily Helsingin Sanomat runs a piece on a soon-to-be-iconic structure in the Kalasatama development on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

One of the apartment skyscrapers currently under construction will be the tallest dwelling in all of Finland upon completion, and as such will command a high-visibility spot in the Helsinki city vista. Some experts and citizens alike are now wondering why the high-rise's façade appears to be a dull grey rather than the promised brilliant white.

HS writes that the record-breaking apartment complex – 35 stories or 132 meters in height– has had a challenging start. Where technical issues have been addressed, the growing building's aesthetics puzzle at least one specialist.

"The structure is sound, and nothing to be ashamed of," says construction planner Henna Helander. "But the towers should look much nicer."

The reason the building looks a dull grey is due to a number of factors, which HS lists. The curtain wall construction method requires aluminium frames to be placed between the glass elements of the outer façade; vertical striping added to the outside of the building is clear white instead of matte white; and the sheeting on the glass elements themselves is dark in colour.

Architect Pekka Helin says the critique over the building's hue is premature.

"A construction site is what it is, it never looks great," he says. "I'm convinced it's going to look excellent in the end."

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