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Wednesday's papers: Budget surprise, health register and Egyptian arrival

Finnish newspapers cover an unexpected windfall for the government, plans to grade individuals' likely need for healthcare and an Egyptian star landing in Savo.

Egyptin Abdalla El Said taisteli pallosta Burkina Fason Issoufou Dayon kanssa maaottelussa 2017.
Image: AOP

Finland's senior government politicians are currently holed up at the Prime Minister's residence thrashing out upper limits on spending in the 2019 state budget. Helsingin Sanomat reports on Wednesday that they have a little more room for manoeuvre than planned thanks to a 1.5 billion euro windfall.

That money is a loan repayment from the state's export promotion agency Finnvera, which borrowed some three billion euros from the Finnish state after the 2008 financial crisis. Half the loan has been repaid and the Finnvera board wants to repay the other half this year.

The government, then, has a dilemma: should it spend the cash now, perhaps on tax cuts or increased spending, or repay state debt? Any increase in annual spending would not be covered in future years by this one-off windfall, and yet the temptation would be to hand out goodies if at all possible.

The government's initial agreement should be made public on Wednesday evening.

Patient register

HS also has news of a new feature of Finnish healthcare intended to assist the smooth running of upcoming health and social care reforms. The reforms aim to ensure that people can choose which health centre they use, including those run by private providers. 

At issue is a points-based system assessing the likely need for healthcare of any new patient. The grade would affect the monthly payment from the taxpayer attached to any patient when they register at a health centre. Patients can change their health centre every six months. 

If the payment was the same for all patients, providers would be incentivised to accept only the healthiest and wealthiest patients. HS reports that the points and information will not be available to patients and would likely include data outside of health records, such as age, education level, employment history and residence.

Parliament still has to vote on the reforms, with critics on the left and the right and especially in the bigger cities

Egyptian arrival

Savon Sanomat reports on local football club KuPS Kuopio's biggest signing to date, with the arrival of Egyptian star Abdullah El-Said on loan from Cairo giants Al-Ahly. El-Said is expected to be part of Egypt's World Cup squad, and will likely be the only Veikkausliiga player to make it to Russia.

He had been the subject of substantial transfer speculation, allegedly signing a contract with Al-Ahly's rivals Zamalek before re-signing with Al-Ahly. By that time he was deeply unpopular with his club's fans, and management decided to send him out on loan--all the way to Kuopio.

Al-Ahly fans descended on the KuPS Facebook page to vent their rage at El-Said, a frankly unprecedented level of attention for the sleepy world of Veikkausliiga. El-Said starts his road to the World Cup on Sunday in Helsinki, where KuPS will take on Ilves Tampere. The game was relocated as the pitch at the Ilves ground remains covered in snow. 

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