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Wednesday's papers: Supo wants more powers, Finland's electric car ambitions, Alko opens online shop

Finnish newspapers on Wednesday report on the ways the Finnish Security Intelligence Service wants to expand its surveillance abilities, a ministerial group aims to get a quarter of a million more electric cars on roads within the next 15 years - but not everyone agrees, and Finnish state booze retailer Alko has opened an online shop.

Koskenkorva, Leijona ja Suomi viina pulloja Alkossa
Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat and Hufvudstadsbladet both reported on ways the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) wants to expand its surveillance rights and capabilities.

The agency said that it needs government to expand its surveillance capabilities in order to combat terrorism, increase the international exchange of security data and to fight domestic crime - among several other reasons, the papers report.

News broke on Tuesday about Supo's confirmation that a Finnish citizen had been implicated in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq in 2015, and that at least one individual from Finland had risen high in the ranks of the terrorist group Isis.

During Tuesday's press conference Supo's chief Antti Pelttari said that in terms of the proportion of Muslims in Finland, the country relatively has the largest amount of radicalised people who leave the country to join the Islamic State terror group abroad.

"More than have of those who have left Finland [to join Isis] have lived their entire lives in Finland and were radicalised here," Pelttari told reporters.

Pelttari says the agency needs to expand its abilities at home and abroad in order to keep up with the underground activities of international terrorism.

Other reasons the agency gave for broadening its surveillance rights include thwarting the use of weapons of mass destruction, improving national security and fighting organised crime.

While the agency said that it had no reason to update Finland's current terror threat assessment, it did say that the relatively high number of Finnish nationals joining Isis is concerning.

According to the agency more than 300 people currently under Supo surveillance because of suspected ties to jihadist extremism, the papers write.

Jump starting electric car sales

According to Helsingin Sanomat, some members of a ministerial working group are at odds about ways of increasing the number of electric vehicles on Finnish roads.

The Transport Ministry's suggestion to get hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles on the roads by the year 2030 with cash incentives for new car buyers garnered criticism from members of the Ministry of Finance and oil industry representatives.

Critics of the 4,000 euro-per-new-electric car incentive plan say that money would simply help the bottom lines of foreign automakers.

In any case, the EU has said that the roads of member states need to be nearly emissions-free by the year 2050, the paper reports

According to the paper the ministerial group aims to reach those requirements by reducing emissions in shipping and aviation by 40 percent of current levels.

As the number of electric cars increases to 250,000 over the next 15 years, the working group says that Finland also needs to boost the number of vehicle charging stations across the country to one charging point for every ten vehicles.

Helsinki Airport's looming deadline to use only renewable fuel is in just a few years - by the year 2020, according to the paper.

Alko online shop opens for business

The national alcohol retailer Alko opened its online store on Tuesday, several papers report.

According to Finnish news agency STT, consumers can now order ahead online and then go pick up their alcoholic beverages at their convenience.

The director of Alko's e-services, Paula Kujansivu, says that the service is designed to better serve their customers, not to sell more alcohol.

"Our aim is no to increase sales but to develop our customer service," Kujansivu told STT, saying that consumers can now ask Alko staff directly online via their chat service, by phone or by email during business hours.

While they do not offer home delivery, customers can order beverages which are not usually carried at their local Alko shop and have them delivered to a designated shop or other location.

The service could be useful for people in remote areas without nearby local Alko shops.

A cursory check of the site by Yle News showed that it costs some nine euros to have a bottle sent to an Alko outlet within two days, but if the buyer can wait four days the service is free. Sending the same bottle to a pickup point, a service which takes two days, also costs nine euros.

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