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Wednesday's papers: Alternative budgets, Metro fever, and Indian baseball

Wednesday's newspapers carry stories on the alternative budgets presented by opposition parties in parliament, a look at the areas around Metro stations old and new, and a trip to see Finnish baseball in Hyderabad, India.

Metrojunat Matinkylän asemalla Espoossa
Excitement builds across the Helsinki region ahead of the expected opening of the Metro extension on Saturday. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Wednesday's newspapers cover the alternative budgets presented by opposition parties to parliament. Each party says what it would do with the state budget in 2018, and it is of course an opportunity to offer some promises that will not, in all likelihood, have to be delivered.

Helsingin Sanomat's print edition compares the impact government's proposal's changes to taxation and benefits to four of the opposition parties' proposals, and shows the opposition proposals mostly redistribute wealth downwards. The Greens would hit the top-earning ten percent of wage earners the hardest, with a reduction in their income of more than two percent.

The SDP and Left Alliance plan similar increases in taxes, while the Swedish People's Party is offering a small increase in disposable income for the highest-earners.

Tax wrangling

The government plans to boost the biggest earners' incomes by just under half of one percent, while cutting the income of the lowest-earning 20 percent of Finnish taxpayers.

The National Coalition Party's Verkkouutiset publication focuses on the Social Democrats' proposal to bump up capital gains tax and taxes on dividends, portraying the party as indifferent to the needs of businesses and happy to tax and spend.

The SDP paper Demokraatti, meanwhile, prefers to emphasise the party's proposed boost to student benefits and portrays the party's tax plans as a hit to the finance sector.

Metro movement

The Helsinki Metro extension is finally, belatedly set to open on Saturday and excitement is building across the capital region's newsrooms. Helsingin Sanomat goes for a statistical analysis of the population of the areas around the 25 stations across the 'network' (which might more accurately be described as a single line), along with an interactive feature that allows readers to take a panoramic look around each station.

The island of Kulosaari is both the richest and most Swedish-speaking district served by the Metro, with a median income of 27,000 euros per year and a Swedish-speaking population at 18 percent of its 3,600 inhabitants. The student district of Otaniemi is the least wealthy community along the line, with a median income of just 10,700 euros.

The paper also interviews Metro users, at least one of whom mentions she was a little cautious about the system before she moved to Kulosaari and saw it in operation.

Indian baseball boom?

The Finnish sport of pesäpallo, or 'Finnish baseball', is a parochial pursuit with little global reach. It was invented by a right-wing nationalist, Lauri Pihkala, who spent some time looking at American baseball before establishing the Finnish version.

Since then it's been strong in rural regions of Finland, but pretty much unnoticed everywhere else. Except, apparently, India.

Ilta-Sanomat took a trip to Hyderabad to see the ninth Indian pesäpallo championship. The event was switched at the last minute from the 25,000-capacity Lal Bahadur Shastri cricket stadium to a humble gravel pitch, apparently because the state governor of Telangana had booked the bigger venue for a private event.

"That's India," said local pesäpallo official Chetan Pagawad.

The tournaments proceeded smoothly despite the venue switch, Maharashtra were crowned all-India champions in both men's and mixed divisions, with Punjab taking the boys' title and Chhattisgarh the girls' championship.

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