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Thursday's papers: Budget clashes, exit strategy under fire

Disagreements among the governing parties and criticism of the coronavirus exit strategy feature in Thursday's papers.

Annika Saarikko, Maria Ohisalo ja Sanna Marin Säätytalon portailla hallituksen puoliväliriihen alkaessa 21. huhtikuuta.
The Centre Party is struggling to find common ground with the other governing parties, says today's Ilta-Sanomat. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is among the papers reporting on the government's budget framework negotiations which began on Wednesday.

According to IS, the governing parties failed to reach a consensus yesterday, with PM Sanna Marin (SDP) calling a halt to proceedings at around 19:30 on Wednesday evening.

"It is absolutely outrageous that the Prime Minister suspended the negotiations. We were ready to negotiate all evening and night, but Marin suspended the negotiations," a Centre Party source reportedly told the tabloid.

A key sticking point is a possible change to unemployment benefits backed by the Centre Party, which would see payouts linked to prior earnings. The proposals are opposed by the other governing parties.

An SDP source told Ilta-Sanomat that the party was also clashing with the Centre on job creation proposals, with the junior coalition partner reportedly demanding "tougher" measures.

"Several different compromise proposals have been made throughout the week, but the situation is somehow stuck going round in circles. Whenever we make a little progress, the brake is pulled," the SDP source told the paper.

According to IS the stakes are high, with the Centre Party reportedly willing to pull out of the governing coalition if its demands on employment and finance reforms are not met.

Helsinki mayor in exit strategy 'chaos' claim

Following the announcement of the government's coronavirus exit strategy on Wednesday, Helsingin Sanomat reports on some adverse reaction from Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP).

Based on the current coronavirus situation, the government aims to open up cross border travel from Sweden and Norway in early May, HS writes. Estonia and Russia could follow in June.

"There will be chaos at Helsinki's ports in May if we do this," the National Coalition Party politician wrote on Twitter.

The issue, according to Helsingin Sanomat, is of how to enforce measures to test passengers for the virus once traveller numbers increase. In a normal year, some 9 million passengers travel on ferries between Finland and Estonia, and around another two million to and from Sweden.

This spring, fewer than 6,000 passengers a week have passed through the city's ports, compared to 26,000 passengers every day during normal times, HS writes.

"Current spending just doesn't work with growing passenger numbers," Vapaavuori told the paper.

Helsinki's Deputy Mayor for Social Affairs and Health, Sanna Vesikana (Green) told HS that while the government was taking the right steps toward freeing up travel, work still needed to be done.

“We need to prepare a model of border security that will work when passenger numbers increase. The requirement of a preliminary test and the obligation to apply for another test should now be taken forward,” she said.

Olympic committee wants faster way out

Wednesday's exit strategy has also come under fire from the Finnish Olympic Committee, reports Swedish-language Huvfudstadsbladet.

According to HBL, the Olympic Committee said the government's proposals to ease restrictions on sporting activities do not go far enough.

"The lifting of the restrictions will take place in stages, which is a great disappointment for us," said committee head Mikko Salonen.

On Wednesday it was announced that young people would be able to participate in group outdoor sports from early June, with indoor events and hobbies to follow in July.

"If you are allowed to go to the bar or the outdoor restaurant, you must also be allowed to exercise," Salonen told HBL.

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