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Opposition slams gov't for historic supplementary budget

Opposition MPs accused the government of trying to make permanent spending hikes under the guise of coronavirus crisis funding.

Petteri Orpo ja Jussi Halla-aho.
March 2020 file photo of NCP chair Petteri Orpo (left) and Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finland's two largest opposition parties, the right wing Finns Party and the centre-right National Coalition, have criticised the government's proposal for a fourth supplementary budget this spring.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's government agreed on Tuesday on a historically-large supplementary budget totalling about four billion euros aimed at helping heal the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.

However, the move would cause Finland to borrow 18.8 billion euros this year to bankroll the planned programmes.

Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said the supplemental budget would put Finland back on its feet, accelerate growth and make the country stronger post-pandemic. The government revealed more details about how the money would be spent on Wednesday.

But the NCP's chair, Petteri Orpo, said he is concerned that the expenditures will be financed on debt, without a promise from the government to improve the employment rate.

"I would also add [to the programme] ways of creating income. Measures should now be taken to improve employment so the government has the ability to so significantly increase public spending," Orpos said Wednesday.

Orpo said that planning for post-coronavirus revitalisation is justified, but emphasised that spending should not be increased unless absolutely necessary.

"The government can't just focus on distributing money without having a plan about how this will be financed," he said.

Halla-aho: "Budget based on debt"

Meanwhile, chair of the Finns Party, Jussi Halla-aho, said the government was appropriating funds for projects the country couldn't otherwise afford under the guise of coronavirus crisis-related funding.

"The government should reconsider its entire budget programme, we cannot afford permanent increases in expenditures that were based on higher levels of employment," Halla-aho said, adding that the budget's large size was explained by the governing parties that were trying to get as much funding as possible for projects that are important to them.

"This budget is based on debt that will end up being paid by future generations. And there are no prospects of how to fund this," Halla-aho said.

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