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Tuesday's papers: High dole office expectations, cheap food, metro reports and presidential production

Tuesday's newspapers include stories about a jobseeker asked to apply for a rather demanding role, a look at the cheapest food on offer from Finland's supermarkets, reports on the Helsinki metro expansion and reviews of the first debate of the presidential election.

Länsimetroa testataan Lauttasaaren asemalla.
Lauttasaari may soon be reachable by metro. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

If you're unemployed in Finland, you are likely to be asked by the Employment Office to apply for jobs in their system that match your skills and experience. If you don't apply for those jobs, you run the risk of having your benefits suspended, so when the letter from the dole office arrives it's good to pay attention.

Ilta-Sanomat reports on Tuesday that one Espoo jobseeker got a surprising offer: press attaché for the Finnish embassy in Washington DC. His experience does not fit the profile demanded by the Foreign Ministry, as he doesn't have several years' experience in demanding communications roles, but nevertheless the letter included the line that he ran the risk of a cut or suspension in his benefit payments if he didn't apply.

'Mikko' was surprised, as he also has a wife with a job in the capital city region, and a three-year-old child. Moving abroad isn't really an option for him.

Officials interviewed by IS said that their letters always include the threat of benefit suspension, but it doesn't always apply: if the job is really inappropriate or located abroad, jobseekers should contact their local Employment Office.

Cheaper food

Kauppalehti has one of the staples of Finnish newspapers, the grocery price comparison. This time Lidl came out top, with a basket of branded goods on offer for just 70.35 euros. In second spot is Prisma and S-Market, both at 70.77 euros, while Stockmann was the dearest option at a whopping 91.03 euros.

The paper also has bad news: prices will rise in the future. This year food prices are projected by the PTT think tank to rise by 0.2 percent, with milk and meat products leading the way. Next year that's expected to accelerate to a bump of 1 percent in the price of food.

Metro extend and pretend

The long-running saga of the Helsinki metro expansion, which will extend the single-line network into the western suburb of Espoo, is expected to end this year with the opening of the new line. The much-delayed project has seen cost overruns from the start, and is now some 400 million euros over its original 719 million euro budget.

There has been pressure to order an investigation, and that was fuelled by the scant report produced by Ernst and Young into the metro company's operations. The firm's owners, Helsinki and Espoo municipal councils, have to accept the report. Espoo has already approved the document, with some dissent over the lack of detail.

Some councillors want every receipt checked and every document scrutinised, but that's unlikely to happen. Helsingin Sanomat reports on Tuesday that Helsinki's senior leadership has accepted the report and decided that no further investigation is necessary at this stage, although lessons should be learned for future projects.

Presidential pickings

The first presidential debate was hosted by the market-oriented think tank EVA on Monday, and the reviews are in. Most of the reaction was as expected, with front-runner and incumbent Sauli Niinistö getting top marks from Ilta-Sanomat, Swedish People's Party candidate Nils Torvalds, in second place and Green challenger Pekka Haavisto coming in third.

While Niinistö got 8.5 from the IS jury, and Haavisto 7, Torvalds (whose son Linus invented the Linux operating system) got 7.5.

Torvalds seems to be carving a niche for himself as an outspoken advocate of Nato membership, which makes a refreshing change from the highly-calibrated and careful security policy positions of the other candidates.

He is unlikely to poll much higher than 5 percent, as his party rarely does, but he may bring some interesting debate to a campaign that has hitherto lacked spark. Additionally, fellow party alum Elisabeth Rehn did manage to garner 46.1 percent of the presidential election votes in 1994.

EDITED ON NOVEMBER 2, 2017  at 12:04 pm to reflect that presidential candidate Nils Torvalds came in second place in Ilta-Sanomat's assessment of the debate.

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