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President: "We are living beyond our means"

President Sauli Niinistö has criticised the idea of debt-financed stimulus – as announced by the finance minister on Tuesday.

Sauli Niinistö.
Sauli Niinistö spoke after cruising the south-western archipelago on a fishing boat. Image: Yle

According to President Sauli Niinistö, debt-fuelled stimulus will not solve Finland’s economic problems.

"I consider all talk about paying for it through future growth to be a bit utopian, as we are now permanently living on debt. I know that one easily gains a reputation as a pessimist by saying so, but it is at least as dangerous as being utopian on these issues," said Niinistö, a former vice president of the European Investment Bank, finance minister and leader of the conservative National Coalition Party.

He pointed out that domestic stimulus will do nothing to improve the world economy, upon which Finland is dependent.

"I think we should look back a few years and simply acknowledge that we are living beyond our means," said the president.

7-8bn euro shortfall

He recalled being critical of the last round of stimulus measures in 2008.

"Even then, my criticism at was directed at the fact that we have a clear structural gap of 7-8 billion euros in the state budget alone. That is big. And it has remained there," said Niinistö.

Niinistö spoke to Yle on Tuesday while visiting professional fishermen near the presidential summer residence in Naantali, south-west Finland. His comments came before Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen announced that next year's budget will include an economic stimulus package running into "hundreds of millions" of euros.

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