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Wednesday's papers: Budget progress, Corona test milestone and a storm warning

Pedestrians and motorists should take care on Wednesday.

Valtiovarainministeri Matti Vanhanen (vas), oikeusministeri Anna-Maja Henriksson, opetusministeri Li Andersson, pääministeri Sanna Marin, sisäministeri Maria Ohisalo sekä tiede- ja kulttuuriministeri Annika Saarikko.
Leaders of the government parties gather on the steps outside the House of the Estates on Tuesday evening. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Leaders of the five parties in the government coalition have been locked in talks since Monday thrashing out the specifics of next year's state budget, and on Monday evening they announced on the steps of the House of the Estates in Helsinki that they had agreed the broad outlines of a deal.

The details are still to be decided, and on Wednesday morning government ministers gather to decide on those, but some snippets of news did leak out from the talks.

Iltalehti reports that the leaders decided not to shorten non-military service, which is significantly longer than the military option. Currently most male citizens have to perform one or the other.

IL also says taxes on peat-burning for energy will rise, a key bone of contention between the Green Party, which wants to see peat-burning end because it causes significant greenhouse gas emissions, and the Centre Party, which sees it as a valuable industry providing employment in rural areas.

The headline figure of the budget talks, meanwhile, was Finance Minister Matti Vanhanen's declaration that the current proposal envisioned a deficit of some 10.7 billion euros.

That includes a whopping 1.5 billion euros for coronavirus testing, and is some 3.7 billion euros more than Vanhanen's original proposal.

Testing ramps up

Those 1.5 billion euros are to be put to good use, according to a Helsingin Sanomat story on coronavirus testing.

The paper has a deep dive on the testing numbers, with more than 800,000 tests performed so far and the one million test milestone expected to be passed this month.

It shows how the testing capacity has ramped up over the course of the year. Back in the spring it was very difficult to be tested for Covid-19 as capacity was limited and test appointments in short supply.

Only the sickest patients had samples taken, and that showed in a positive text rate of some six percent. By the end of August that had dropped to just 0.2 percent

Storm clouds gathering

All the papers cover the incoming autumn storm, in one way or another. The low pressure front arrives on the west coast on Wednesday, moving east over the course of the day and bringing high winds and heavy rain to most parts of the country.

Ilta-Sanomat reports that damage from the storm may be greater than usual, as there are still leaves on the trees and they may therefore be more likely to topple.

The paper interviews a meteorologist who recommends avoiding unnecessary movement outdoors across much of the country, with an area from Uusimaa up to North Karelia in the storm's path.

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