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Wednesday's papers: Money worries in gov't talks, intra-party Sipilä criticism, Turku funicular

Government negotiations see spending troubles, the Centre Party questions chair Juha Sipilä's leadership and a new cable car is tested.

Funikulaari lähtee yläasemalta
The first funicular in Finland will be unveiled on Friday in Turku. Image: Paula Collin / Yle

Daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote that Social Democratic chair Antti Rinne's government coalition talks have entered a "difficult phase" marked by an absence of sufficient funds to bring about all the policy proposals currently in the works.

HS reported that the party chairs have reached an initial consensus that the coming government needs an extra one billion euros to fulfill its plans.

For the budget to be rounded out, some 700 million euros more in tax income would be needed. Finland's employment rate would also need to rise to 75 percent from the current 72.6 percent by the year 2023.

HS sources indicated that the government intends to sell off state assets for an injection of 1.5—2 billion euros, most of which is set to fund transport and infrastructure upgrades. An estimated 500 million euros would go towards research and innovation.

Rinne has said that the government talks are to conclude on Friday, which HS sources said is unlikely due to the sheer number of open questions still dangling over the negotiators.

Chair Sipilä blamed by own party

While the next coalition slowly comes together, outgoing Prime Minister and chair of the Centre Party Juha Sipilä is facing severe criticism from his own Centre Party MPs.

Sipilä's colleagues expressed their displeasure at the premier's leadership style and his special treatment of outgoing transport and communications minister Anne Berner, according to regional paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus; MPs spoke of a "climate of fear" surrounding Sipilä's behaviour.

MT interviewed ten Centre Party insiders and found that many of them do not want Sipilä to take up a ministerial portfolio in the coming government.

Sipilä granted minister Berner the right to veto, which many Centre Party politicians balked at. According to MT, one MP said that during Sipilä's term the PM undermined the party's parliamentary group and made open conversation impossible.

"In group meetings Sipilä would become angry when criticised," the anonymous MP said. "The parliamentary group should guide the PM, not the other way around. Sipilä also seemed to look down on MPs who were working on so-called "insignificant things", even though the nitty gritty policy work actually has a lot of value for rural Centre Party voters especially."

Another MP claimed that Sipilä's victim mentality halted the Centre Party's development.

"When we tried to make big political changes, everything stopped with Sipilä," the anonymous source said.

Finland's first funicular functional

The city of Turku is almost ready to inaugurate its Kakola funicular, the first in Finland. Tabloid Iltalehti tested the new semi-vertical cable car, which can carry some 480 passengers per hour.

The funicular was proposed as early as 2010, wrote IL, with the first competitive bidding rounds in 2012. The Kakola hill is too steep for buses or other forms of transport; and the funicular is much cheaper, costing about a third of a bus line's annual upkeep costs.

The funicular track is 132 metres long with an elevation of 30 metres from the bottom of the line to the top. Using the funicular is free, and a one-way trip lasts about one minute.

The 5.6 million euro project was supposed to be finished by the end of 2018. Instead Turku will begin public use of the funicular on Friday, 24 May.

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