07:05 GMT26 January 2021
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    Finland's government has announced additional austerity measures worth roughly 400 million euros, despite already sluggish economic growth and unemployment steadily on the rise, although education will receive a boost.

    This week's protracted and painful budget talks resulted in a plan to introduce further cutbacks worth 400 million euros in order to meet the government's previously announced savings target of 4 billion euros. Previous measures already taken, have by now been rendered ineffective by the low inflation rate, argues the Finnish government.

    Among other, development assistance is planned to be slashed by 25 million, municipal subsidies by 130 million, sickness allowances by 20 million and basic transport infrastructure management funding by 35 million euros.

    The government also hopes to save up an additional 100 million euros by freezing increases in certain social security benefits and raising the fuel tax. The fuel price is expected to edge up 0.02 euros per liter, a recent press-release from the Finance Ministry shows.

    However, Financial Minister Alexander Stubb of the National Coalition Party, specifically stressed that no further cuts will be made to education funding. Instead, the government is considering an investment package of 105 million euros for higher education and research institutions, tweeted Joonas Turunen, who is Stubb's special adviser.

    ​"The funding of 105 million euros is aimed to further digitalize schools and strengthen the position of young, rising researchers," confirmed Stubb's party colleague Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Education and Culture.

    Additionally, the Government is contemplating a number of impressive transport infrastructure projects such as light rail lines in Helsinki and Tampere and a high-speed railway between Helsinki and Turku. A total of 700 million euros of infrastructure investments have been earmarked.

    However, the present-day economic situation in Finland remains dire, with unemployment being the main problem. Recently, Finland's heavyweight telecom equipment firm Nokia announced plans to shed some 1,300 jobs (out of the company's total staff of 6,700 workers) in a bid to save nearly 1 billion euros by 2018. Half of the company's jobs in Espoo will be gone, compared to ‘only' a quarter in Oulu and Tampere. This decision was publicly deplored by Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipilä of the Center Party.

    "One can only hope that this announcement is the last of its kind," said Sipilä.

    Nokia's redundancy announcement was preceded by Finland's stainless steel manufacturer Outokumpu's decision to cut up to 600 jobs, following a horrific year with a net loss of 132 million euros. Moreover, Kesko Corporation said 131 will have to leave as a result of a logistics center termination.
    Trade union Pros' chairman Jorma Malinen said in a press release that the lay-offs once again show how weak Finland's dismissal protection is compared to the rest of Europe.

    "Nothing is going to change as long as politicians are spineless and nonplussed," says Malinen according to Finland's national broadcaster Yle.

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    Global financial crisis (9)

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    budget cuts, unemployment, Nokia, Juha Sipila, Alexander Stubb, Finland
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