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Tuesday’s papers: Budget unknowns, biz support and tree hugging

Finland plans next year's budget amidst unknown unknowns, lifelines for struggling businesses and tree hugging relief.

Poika halaa puuta ja hymyilee.
File photo of boy hugging tree. Image: Tiia Korhonen / Yle

Budget framework talks are kicking off in a tense atmosphere this week, writes Helsingin Sanomat, as government coalition partners have diverging views on issues ranging from how to raise employment to how best to slow climate change -- something the Centre Party and Greens tend to clash on.

HS writes that uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis is making estimates on state revenue and expenditure more of a guesstimate now than during any other year since the 2008 financial crisis.

A year ago the government was still hoping to add 60,000 people to the workforce to help cover permanent expenditure. Today it's uncertain whether furloughed employees will be able to return to work this autumn or if they will be terminated.

The government has some two billion euros in emergency funds at its disposal. Finland is also set to receive 3.2 billion euros of the EU’s 750-billion-euro-coronavirus recovery fund--money which will likely be directed toward road and rail projects.

Emergency business support still available

The State Treasury meanwhile approved just a quarter of emergency funding applications in its 'business cost support programme' in July, according to business daily Kauppalehti.

This means the agency granted 55 million out of 300 million euros available for struggling businesses through the end of August. Eligible companies must prove that their turnover shrank by over thirty percent in April as compared to turnover in March-June 2019.

Most applicants seeking support operate in the hospitality sector. Awarded funds have averaged 30,000 euros.

Applications have mainly failed for being eligible to receive less than the 2,000-euro minimum support threshold.

Pandemic sport

Levi in northern Finnish Lapland will be the site of the first world tree hugging championships on 22 August, says Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Organisers say the event raises environmental awareness while helping people connect with nature.

Pandemic travel restrictions mean participants who have signed up from around the world will join a video stream to compete in classes such as 'freestyle' and 'speed hugging'.

"The chances of hugging our fellow human beings have become limited. But fear not, there are still trees to hug!" proclaims HaliPuu, the company behind the event.

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