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Thursday's papers: Portugal pensioners, metro extension, Turku factory buses

Thursday's papers include stories about the wealthy retired Finns living in Portugal, a(nother) troubled project to extend the Helsinki metro system, and a novel way to combat a labour shortage in south-west Finland.

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Östersundom is currently a sleepy suburb, but Helsinki council wants to change that. Image: Ilkka Loikkanen / Yle

Finnish pensioners in Portugal are in the spotlight once again in Kauppalehti, which has a story about the relative incomes of retired folks living in different countries around the world and receiving Finnish pensions. Top of the list is Portugal, where tax rules are favourable and some 500 older people receive an average of 3,493 euros in Finnish pensions each month.

That's more than the average income for working people in Finland, which in 2015 stood at 2,963 euros.

The figures come from the Finnish Centre for Pensions, which reckons around 60,000 people living outside Finland currently receive Finnish pensions. The average amount is 401 euros, but that conceals huge variations. Some 67 percent of all foreign-based pensioners live in Sweden, where the average pension sum is 201 euros per month.

Finnish pensions are calculated on the basis of earnings and compulsory contributions over the length of an individual's career. The higher someone's salary, the bigger their pension will be when they retire.

The other metro extension

With all the focus on embarrassing delays to the western extension of the Helsinki metro system, one could be forgiven for forgetting about the plans to lengthen the eastern arm of the capital's underground network.

There has long been a desire in Helsinki to offer a subway connection to Östersundom, an eastern suburb that was partly requisitioned from Sipoo in order to expand housing provision in the capital (and to ensure that the taxes residents of the new suburb paid went to Helsinki's coffers).

Central to the plans is a metro line to be extended from Mellunkylä to the east, and this week Helsinki, Vantaa and Sipoo are to decide on the planned expansion. The first plans were costed at 631 million euros, but they were dropped after objections from conservationists. The new plans come in at 813 million euros, and they might not get an enthusiastic reception.

Helsingin Sanomat suggests that there's been a shift in Helsinki's focus. When Östersundom was acquired the focus in the capital was on people wnating to move to commuter towns so they could have a garden and a house. Now the hottest properties are all in the very centre of town, and expanding these more urban areas is the new focus of the town planners.

That leaves a huge investment in transport links for a 100,000-strong suburb 20km from the city centre in jeopardy.

Turku buses workers

Issues around recruitment of workers for manufacturing industries in the south-west have been prominent in the news cycle recently. If it's not contractors ripping off foreign workers at Turku's shipyard it's an overall shortage of housing, especially at the Uusikaupunki plant slated to produce new cars for Mercedes.

The city of Turku has started a new trial to try and relieve some of the presssure, reports local paper Turun Sanomat, and it involves bussing workers from Turku to their factory just up the coast.

The bus stops right outside the factory, it's cheaper than normal public transport tickets, and the timetable is tailored to shift patterns at the company. What could be simpler for the hundreds of Turku people employed at the Uusikaupunki plant?

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