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Wednesday's papers: Higher taxes, more quota refugees and state-subsidised rental flat rumble

Drivers and smokers to pay more tax, Finland expands number of quota refugees and a subsidised housing controversy.

Tupakka
File photo. Image: Viivi Sihvonen / Yle

National daily Helsingin Sanomat’s calculations on the government's budget proposal show that an average middle income earner pulling down 3,452 euros per month will pay some 13 euros more in taxes and pension contributions next year.

To help cover rising pension and healthcare costs, the government will raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by 45 cents. Motorists will also feel the pinch as the petrol tax on gasoline will rise by 6.3 cents per litre and 6.9 cents for diesel fuel, according to calculations by the Taxpayers Association of Finland (TAF).

More quota refugees

When unveiling the budget on Tuesday the government also announced it would raise Finland’s refugee quota by 100 people annually to 850 in 2020, according to Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Finland will accept 400 Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Turkey, 200 Congolese refugees from Zambia as well as 130 Nigerian refugees.

Under the refugee quota, Finland admits persons recognised as refugees by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Housing lottery

Helsingin Sanomat also follows up on a letter from one of its readers earlier this week regarding perceived inequality in Helsinki’s subsidised housing scheme.

The letter claimed that people with earnings of up to 4,000 euros per month were living in heavily-subsidised flats in the city centre, such as two-room apartments costing 500 euros per month.

HS now reports that after calling the city council, only one councillor, a National Coalition Party representative, said he proposed earnings caps for people living in subsidised housing.

In 2017, officials announced plans to carry out periodical checks of occupants' incomes, but the scheme was scrapped the following year as a report by the Environment Ministry found that income limits could lead to incentive traps whereby a tenant may turn down a new job in fear of losing their home.

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