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Tuesday's papers: Govt talks get tough, reining in lobbyists, tax deadline

Taxation looks to be a key issue in government formation talks, while plans to register political lobbyists get a green light.

Nainen tutkii veroilmoitusta
Tuesday is the deadline for corrections or addition to many pre-completed tax return forms. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The Helsinki tabloid Iltalehti writes that last week the parties in government formation talks spent their time examining the lay of the land and creating visions of the future. This week, it says, they will have to deal with economic and political realities.

In a listing of some of the key points a new government programme will have to tackle, Iltalehti argues that a reform of health and social services will be the biggest and most important task at hand.

The SDP, the Centre, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party involved in the talks have very different concepts of how the social safety net should be revamped. The SDP's Antti Rinne, who is leading government formation talks, has pledged that reforms will be prepared by parliament, but this newspaper expresses doubts that it will be any easier that way.

Among the other issues that Iltalehti believes will be causing headaches for negotiators are forestry policy, taxation and changes to the system of parental leave.

One of the redline demands by the Centre is that higher taxes are not imposed by a new government on businesses and entrepreneurs. The SDP wants to target tax relief on small and mid-sized businesses and to more heavily tax the dividends paid out by unlisted companies, as well as more generally, ownership and capital.

This leads the paper to the question: which party will give in? The Centre has announced that it will not back away a single inch from its key demands. Iltalehti though wonders whether or not it already has done so behind closed doors.

Reining in lobbyists

Tensions rose in the government formation talks last week over claims that lobby group representatives had been named by some of the parties to take part in formulating the programme for a new coalition.

Although Social Democratic Party chair and government coalition manager Antti Rinne rebuffed those claims, concerns about the role of lobbyists in Finnish politics are still very much alive.

The agrarian paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus writes that Rinne says that all of the parties in the talks have agreed on presenting parliament with legislation to set up a register of lobbyists.

According to Centre chair and outgoing PM Juha Sipilä, the cabinet office and parliament have both carried out work on establishing a registry of organizations and individuals involved in political lobbying. Rinne stated Monday that the work will move ahead and that he expects that a new law could be brought into force quite quickly.

EU paradox

Pointing to news that only about 10 percent of young residents in Finland between the ages of 18-24 voted in the last EU parliamentary election, the daily Helsingin Sanomat reports one expert as calling this a "special paradox".

This paper says that this past winter and now into the spring, young people have been calling for more powerful action to combat climate change. The young want long-term solutions from politicians.

If there is one place where Finns have been able to influence climate change on a global level and the direction of Europe, that place is in the decision-making bodies of the European Union, writes HS.

It is thus a "strange equation" when only 10 percent of young Finns voted in the 2014 parliamentary election.

"Taking into consideration how intelligent and well educated our young people are, and in fact how well aware they are of European affairs, this is a special paradox," the head of Finland's EU parliament mission office Jarmo Oikarinen told the paper.

Looking for an explanation, Oikarinen said that some of the reasons may be that decision making in Brussels seems so far away, that EU affairs have low visibility in the Finnish media, and that the most concrete decisions, such as how tax revenues are spent, are made on the national level.

Tax day part II

Kuopio's Savon Sanomat reminds readers that today, Tuesday 14 May, is the deadline for many people to file corrections or additions to the pre-completed tax return forms received by mail earlier this year.

Dates for filing with the tax authority are staggered, with one already passed on 7 May, one today, and one on 21 May. The deadline date is marked on the forms and is also available online at the tax office's "MyTax" (Omavero) service.

If there is no need for corrections or additions to your return, you do not have to do anything.

Digital driving licence

Iltalehti reports that the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom on Monday launched the beta version an android app that allows drivers to carry a legal copy of their driving licence on their mobile phones.

The app displays an up-to-date copy of the driver's licence that, at least for the time being, is valid only in mainland Finland.

According to Traficom, the virtual licence is intended to be used just like a printed one. Traficom points out, though, that it may not be accepted as ID, for example at sales points, until it becomes more widely used.

The mobile phone licence has a number of security features including an animated background, colour-shifting holograms and a QR code.

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