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Thursday's papers: Costly asylum seeker ankle tags, longer careers, and Helsinki's project poll

Papers report on a ministry report assessing "technical monitoring", retirement age increases, and the OmaStadi survey.

Expanding the use of ankle tags will not save money, says a ministry report. Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva reports this Thursday on the status of a government proposal that would have extended the use of ankle monitors to asylum seekers.

The controversial plan would use ankle monitors to keep tabs on failed asylum seekers, as a less restrictive alternative to detention.

So-called "technical monitoring" is already in use in Finland for criminals on probation or people subject to a travel ban. The ankle tag is connected to a device in the person's home that tracks their comings and goings. Any deviations from approved routines are then reported to a national monitoring system.

Kaleva reports that an assessment being prepared by the interior ministry has so far determined that the use of ankle monitoring is expensive, and is not necessarily an effective substitute for detention. It has also stated that ankle tags cannot prevent people from fleeing or committing crimes, for example.

State secretary Olli-Poika Parviainen, who works for interior minister Maria Ohisalo, tells the paper that other methods, beyond ankle tags, are also being assessed in the report.

"The report also compares monitoring via a GPS phone or SIM card-based positioning system," he says.

Kaleva writes that the interior ministry's report will be completed in a few weeks.

People are working longer

The tabloid Iltalehti carries a story on the hike in the retirement age in Finland, which is keeping people on the job longer, as policymakers hoped.

Labour market organisations agreed in 2014 to incrementally raise Finland's official retirement age from 63 to 65, and the reform came into effect in 2017.

Many people objected to the change, as they wondered if they would have the stamina and if their health would allow them to work until they were 65 or older.

IL reports that figures released yesterday from the Finnish Centre of Pensions show that the reform has already started to have the desired effect, as people's careers are indeed lasting longer. In 2018 the number of Finns who had starting collecting their pension dropped by 8,000 on the previous year, the pension centre reported, attributing the change to the reform.

Of people eligible to retire in 2018 roughly 35 percent left work, while in 2017, the corresponding figure was 47 percent.

"Those born in 1955 have continued working longer than those born in 1954. In other words, they have continued their working life at least up to the new retirement age. This was one of the key aims of the pension reform," development manager Jari Kannisto of the Finnish Centre for Pensions tells IL.

For people born after 1965, the retirement age will be linked to future life expectancy. The tabloid links to the Centre for Finnish Pensions' calculator, where you can find a projection of your future retirement age under the new legislation.

Helsinki reaches out to residents

The capital city-based daily Helsingin Sanomat features a reminder that voting in the OmaStadi (roughly Your City) poll ends today, Thursday, for Helsinki residents. The city is reaching out to residents with a project it is calling "participatory budgeting", asking them to vote on their top choices for spending 4.4 million euros.

HS reports that the projects that have received the most of the 32,000-plus votes so far include bids to plant more trees, provide more exercise and fitness opportunities and keep the city cleaner.

The project started last year when Helsinki residents were invited to suggest projects to improve the city. 1,273 proposals were sent to the municipality, of which 296 were chosen. City workers tell HS that most ideas proposed improvements to the urban environment, parks in particular.

If you are a Helsinki resident, you can still place your vote in English today by following this link. The service requires identification with online banking codes or mobile ID. Students over 12 years of age are also encouraged to vote and can sign in with their Wilma ID.

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