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Thursday's papers: Dearer food, prosecutor grumbling and more criticism for unemployed 'activation' plan

On Thursday the press looks at discontent among prosecutors, more expensive food and criticism for a government plan to get the unemployed back to work.

Ostoskärryjä.
Filling a trolley is dearer this year than last in Finland. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finnish media love to rank supermarkets based on price, perhaps because just two companies control some 75 percent of the market. The arrival of German discounter Lidl has shaken things up to some extent and last year the S-Group chain announced a marketing campaign in which they pushed their cheapest products as a sign of the reduced cost.

This year's comparison in Helsingin Sanomat seems to show a marked change. Whereas last year S-Group's Prisma hypermarket was the cheapest, Thursday's comparison shows Lidl as the most affordable place to purchase a basket of common items. Prisma's basket jumped from 31.60 euros to 38.69 euros, with Lidl increasing from 34.58 euros to 36.32 euros.

The paper reprts that the PTT think tank forecasts food prices will rise by some one percent overall this year, and that retailers will endeavour to keep the prices of some staples low to attract and retain customers. On the other hand, PTT expert Kyösti Arovuori says they will also compete through expanding their selection and offering products that customers might not find in competing stores.

Prosecution unrest

Last year Prosecutor General Matti Nissinen was convicted of official misconduct over a decision to purchase training services from a company owned by his brother. Soon after the verdict was handed down, Nissinen announced he would be continuing in his job and saw no reason to stand aside.

HS on Thursday publishes a survey of the nation's prosecutors in which they were asked if they thought Nissinen should continue as the most senior prosecutor in the land.

The results don't make happy reading for Nissinen. Some 79.6 percent of respondents said they thought he shouldn't carry on, while just 6.3 percent supported his right to remain the most senior prosecutor in Finland.

The paper also published a selection of comments offered anonymously by Nissinen's colleagues and staff.

"He should understand the institution's position and his own responsibility towards it," read one. Others criticised his stance in waiting for the Justice Ministry's verdict rather than falling on his sword after he was convicted. Some questioned the suitability of the Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen to rule on the case given that in 2009 he worked for Nissinen as an intern in the Eastern Finland Prosecutors office.

HS quotes the minister's special advisor as saying that the Chancellor of Justice has specifically ruled that Häkkänen has no reason to recuse himself from the decision.

Activation model under (yet more) fire

Kauppalehti adds to the chorus of disapproval for the government's new plan to cut unemployment benefits if claimants don't manage to perform a few hours of part time work. The business daily, however, takes a different tack to those worried about the impact on unemployed people.

KL reports experts opinion that the model as it is increases bureaucracy to such a level that any gains in employment rates will be cancelled out by the red tape involved in checking up on jobless claimants. It states that the 'activation model' was one of four proposed by a ministerial working group, but the others would all have involved direct cuts in benefit payments based on time spent claiming.

That would have been much less bureaucratic and kinder to those on the lowest level of unemployment benefit, according to Nordea economist Olli Kärkkäinen.

Markkanen magic

Overnight Lauri Markkanen had one of his best games yet for Chicago Bulls in the NBA, scoring 33 points against the New York Knicks. Of course all the sports pages online are ablaze with Markkanen stories, including videos of the highlights.

The US media was equally impressed by the Finnish rookie, with one spectacular dunk in particular attracting plaudits from basketball media.

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