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Vanhanen wants to stay on as finance minister after September

The former PM had described his ministerial stint as a 'project', but now says his work will not be done by September.

Katri Kulmuni ja Matti Vanhanen.
Katri Kulmuni and Matti Vanhanen at a Centre Party press conference on 8 June, the day he was named as her replacement. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Former prime minister and speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen, who was appointed as finance minister last week, says he is prepared to remain in the post after September. That is when his Centre Party is to choose a leader.

Party chair Katri Kulmuni, who suddenly resigned as finance minister two weeks ago, plans to run for re-election even though she is no longer a government minister. So far no-one has formally announced a challenge, but deputy chair Annika Saarikko has been widely mooted as a potential opponent.

Jobs decisions must be made in late summer

Vanhanen initially refused to leave his post as speaker of Parliament to step in as a replacement finance minister. Finally agreeing do so, seemingly reluctantly, he described his ministerial stint as a 'project'. Now, with Finland sinking into recession, the ex-premier says his work will not be done by September.

He added on Thursday that he believed that his "evaluation of the matter would be heard".

Vanhanen said that when ministers begin meeting in August to hash out next year's budget framework, decisions must be made to increase the availability of labour. The government has already agreed to raise its target for the number of employed people by at least 60,000.

Third finance minister within a year

Earlier this week the Finance Ministry predicted that this year's unemployment rate will rise to 8.5 percent, compared to a near-record-low of 6.5 percent last year.

The ministry also forecast that Finland's economy will shrink by six percent this year before slowly recovering in 2021.

When he was sworn in on Tuesday last week, Vanhanen became the third Centre Party minister to hold the post within a year. Mika Lintilä held the job from June to December last year, when he switched posts with Kulmuni, who was then Minister of Economic Affairs. Like Lintilä, though, she remained in the post for less than half a year before stepping down amid a furore over dubious consultancy fees and the party's sinking popularity.

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