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Tuesday's papers: Losing Lions, dirty protest and inefficient subsidies

Tuesday's newspapers include much despair over the parlous state of the Finnish ice hockey team, a refusal to clean near a 'Finland first' protest in Helsinki after abusive behaviour by the anti-immigrant protesters, and criticism from economists for Finland's extensive system of financial support for big business.

Lauri Marjamäki
Lauri Marjamäki Image: Lehtikuva

Every spring Finland waits for the warmer weather, hoping for summer, while watching the World Championships in ice hockey. It's an annual ritual that binds the nation together, offering the hope of glory and the promise of excitement as Finns gather round television sets to see how their boys navigate the tournament.

So far this year it's been miserable. After a fairly routine win over Belarus in their opening match, the not-so-flying Finns were hammered 5-1 by hosts France on Sunday. That was followed by an astonishing collapse on Monday night, when they let slip a 3-0 lead over the Czech Republic to lose 4-3.

As you might imagine, the coach Lauri Marjamäki is feeling the heat.

"He coaches the national team like under-16s," moaned Iltalehti's man in Paris.

"Maybe he lacks leadership qualities," suggests Ilta-Sanomat.

Whatever the problem is, Marjamäki's time as coach looks to be running out. Social media reaction has been harsh, and the Lions now face a struggle to ensure qualification for the knockout stages of the tournament.

Street sweepers swerve "Finland first" protest

Helsingin Sanomat carries the news that the city of Helsinki's street sweeping contractor, Stara, has advised its workers that they do not have to work near a prominent anti-immigrant demonstration in the city centre.

Stara says that its workers were abused by protesters at the camp when they tried to empty bins in the vicinity, and as a result it no longer required that workers go near their tents. Bins next to the camp have not been emptied for more than a week.

HS heads down to the demonstration to get the activists response, and they predictably claim that the Stara employee had approached them aggressively. The protesters now say they are cleaning the area themselves.

There have been two opposing camps in the same square for months, one for asylum seekers protesting against Finland's immigration policies and the other formed of anti-immigrant groups under the 'Finland first' banner.

Subsidies slammed

One key goal of the Finns Party before it entered government was to cut subsidies paid out to companies in Finland. Many of these payments go to big firms, companies must jump through bureaucratic hoops to get any cash, and they are relatively unpopular spending.

Still, despite deep cuts to education and other government costs, subsidies for businesses remain untouched. Kauppalehti reports on the situation on Tuesday, including quotes from Enterprise Finland, which represents small and medium sized businesses.

That organisation has published a list of inefficient and wasteful subsidy spending, which totals some 500 million euros. Civil servants went even further, suggesting that just 11 percent of Finland's subsidy spending was efficient. That means Finland spends some 3.6 billion euros on supporting incumbent companies in ways that stifle innovation.

The emphasis of company support spending should, according to economists interviewed by KL, focus on product development and research. Mika Kuismanen, economist at Enterprise Finland, has a simple explanation for the government's inaction.

"They lack courage," he tells KL.

Indeed the government has promised that it will not increase costs for industrial enterprises in this government term. Reform of subsidy spending, then, will have to wait.

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