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Wednesday's papers: Exit strategy, mill closure woes, snow on the way

Midweek Finnish dailies focus on the government Covid exit strategy, budget talks, a wintry setback and other topics.

Stora Enson Veitsiluodon paperitehtaat Kemissä, 21. syyskuuta 2011.
The planned closure of the Veitsiluoto pulp and paper mill in Kemi will be one of the biggest industrial shutdowns in Finnish history. Image: Kimmo Mäntylä / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and key ministers from her government are to unveil more details of their coronavirus exit plan at a press conference that began at 9 am Wednesday, reports the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat.

The cabinet met on Tuesday evening at the House of Estates to discuss changes to the plan to phase out restrictions. The proposal had been sent around for comment from other officials and organisations over the past week.

Also appearing at the event are Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko (Cen), Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP), Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) and Education Minister Jussi Saramo (Left).

Immediately after the press conference, the government is to begin talks on the budget framework for the rest of its legislative term. According to HS, the negotiations will likely be difficult.

The paper cites three main areas of controversy: the level of expenditures and borrowing, employment measures, in particular how to lower the unemployment rate, and climate issues, especially the taxation of the use of peat as fuel and the status of peat entrepreneurs, a particular subject of concern for Saarikko's rural-based Centre Party.

The cabinet aims to rapidly phase out the use of high-polluting peat for energy as part of its plan achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

MT: Kemi plant's closure to overshadow budget talks

The agrarian daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, which is published by the farmers' union MTK, notes that the talks will be overshadowed by Tuesday's announcement of a major factory closure in northern Finland.

Forest products giant Stora Enso said it will pull the plug on the Veitsiluoto pulp and paper mill in Kemi. Causing the direct loss of nearly 700 jobs and massive knock-on effects for the local economy, it is one of the biggest industrial shutdowns in Finnish history.

The newspaper says that the Centre Party has considered leaving the five-party coalition government if it does not agree on adequate action on issues such as employment in more sparsely populated parts of the country, including the north.

That would mean that the government would lose its majority in Parliament.

According to Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, it is also possible that the smaller Left Alliance might quit the cabinet if it sees the agreed employment measures as too harsh, for instance. A leftist walkout would leave the other four governing parties with a razor-thin majority of 101 seats in the 200-seat legislature instead of the current 117.

On a lighter note, the rural paper also carries a nostalgic photo reportage on a club for aficionados of vintage Finnish-made Valmet tractors, now better known internationally as Valtra machines. The Vanhat Valmetit (Old Valmets) association is based in Nurmijärvi, southern Finland, but has members all over Finland as well as in Sweden and Germany. Club president Kimmo Kirveslahti says that the association's 1,140 members include many women.

Valmet (an abbreviation of State Metalworks) was established 70 years ago. Its tractor subsidiary, Valtra, was spun off a separate company in 2003.

AL: Don't put away those woollies just yet

Tampere broadsheet Aamulehti warns its readers not to change to summer tyres or put away woollen clothing just quite yet. The paper says that while temperatures in south-central Finland may reach 13 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, they will drop to half of that within the next few days.

Over the weekend, the mercury may sink to almost zero as conditions become cloudier and wetter. Friday will bring rain and sleet to the Pirkanmaa area, while the forecast calls for as much as 6.5 cm of snow in Tampere on Sunday.

The paper also reports that last year wine consumption worldwide fell to its lowest level in nearly two decades.

It cites a report from the Paris-based International Organisation of Vine and Wine, which said that drinkers around the world downed 23.4 billion litres of wine last year, about three percent less than the year before, and the smallest total since 2002, largely due to closures of restaurants and bars.

Restaurants re-opened this week in many parts of Finland after six weeks of being closed, but with early closing times and other strict conditions that will make any sharp upswing in wine sales unlikely here for now at least.

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