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Wednesday's papers: Sipilä's to-do list, presidential hopefuls plan debate, most-hated companies and a skidding plane

Finland's newspapers include an in-depth interview with the Prime Minister this Wednesday, in addition to calls for President Niinistö to participate in campaign debates, a list of out-of-favour firms and a plane skidding off the runway at Helsinki Airport.

Pääministeri Juha Sipilä (vas.) tapsi Kiinan presidentin Xi Jinpingin Pekingissä 26. kesäkuuta 2017.
Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipilä met with Chinese President Xi JinPing in Beijing on June 26. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Helsingin Sanomat starts off this Wednesday with a lengthy Q&A featuring Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. He says the two most pressing tasks the government faces are improving employment figures and renewing the country's network of social and health services. A new challenge presented itself at the start of the year, however, when Sipilä appointed a working group to come up with ways to mitigate increasing inequality in Finnish society. The comprehensive analysis extended to everything from day care to state debt and work-life balance to immigration, the paper writes.

One thing Sipilä says he learned from the report is that the nation's system of social benefits cannot go on as it is. "In the future, work will be comprised of several different components in a variety of fields. The definition of work as we know it today will change significantly," he says.

The premier tells the paper that Finland must prepare for a future in which companies are no longer the primary employers. "People will have to be able to earn a living from many different work responsibilities, simultaneously or in consecutive shorter periods," he says.

The Finnish Prime Minister says a universal basic income is one solution on the table. As digitalization advances, he says, Finland will need an entirely new system of social welfare. His government green-lighted a basic income pilot project for some 2,000 long-term unemployed which is set to wrap up in 2018.

Top priorities: jobs and administrative reform

When it comes to jobs, Sipilä tells HS that his three-party coalition government still hopes to achieve its projected goal of 72 percent employment, a number last seen in Finland in 1990. At present, the percentage of 15 to 64-year-olds in work stands at 69 percent.

"We are moving in the right direction on this the whole time," said Sipilä. "Export numbers are only now picking up. Soon this will be reflected in employment figures."

But what about the health and social services reform, a mammoth project his and previous governments have grappled with unsuccessfully? He was recently forced to announce that the implementation would be pushed back a year due to complicated compliance issues with constitutional law. "Everyone knows that we will not be able to bridge the sustainability gap without major changes. Change is difficult and opposition to change is always great."

The interview goes on to discuss what lies ahead for the government after the summer break: more work on the 'sote' reform and job creation is at the top of the list, and a cut to corporate assistance is likely in the cards. Among five random questions to finish, Sipilä is asked which foreign leader he is closest to.

"There are several, but I am in constant contact with Stefan Löfven (the Swedish Prime Minister), for example." 

President candidates demand Niinistö's presence at debate

The Aamulehti paper out of Tampere features a challenge from the Centre Party candidate for president in 2018, former Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. He has invited the other candidates to join him in a debate in August in the southern city of Salo, and he made it clear to AL that he expects the sitting president, Sauli Niinistö, to also attend. Previous calls from Vanhanen for Niinistö to participate in pre-election campaign debates have been met with reluctance – the President's Office says Niinistö is fully booked for the remainder of this year, due to the ongoing centennial celebration.

Many of the other parties' candidates for president agree with Vanhanen's demand, which was presented at the SuomiAreena debate in Pori. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö currently enjoys strong public support with polls currently suggesting he will easily win a second term on 28 January 2018, in the first round of voting.

Companies Finns dislike

Next, the Länsiväylä newspaper from the western climes of the capital city region lists the results of a survey asking Finns to cite companies they dislike. The communications firm Tekir asked 1,000 Finnish citizens between the ages of 15 and 79 to name "firms they hate", and the firm in first place turned out to be a Tekir client.

Bankrupt Talvivaara mining fompany, Nordic banking giant Nordea and multinational food and drink company Nestlé top the list, followed by the state-owned miner Terrafame, the Fortum energy company and the electricity transmission firm Caruna. 

The poll found that 74 percent of Finns didn't actually hate any companies: only 3.3 percent of the respondents indicated that they disliked first-place winner Talvivaara, for example.

Divided into sectors, the survey suggested that Finns were foremost averse to unethical and environmentally damaging companies, but also critical of firms that evaded taxes or tried to hide their profits. 

Sliding off the runway

And finally, the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports on a Norwegian airline flight that slid off the end of the runway onto the grass late yesterday evening at the Helsinki Airport.

The plane skidded off the landing strip in heavy rain, but no one was injured or in danger during the incident. The DY4287 flight from Stockholm to Helsinki was scheduled to arrive at 6:25 pm Tuesday evening, but was delayed, arriving 40 minutes late at 7:10 pm.

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