The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has called for patience amid the gradually improving economic situation in Finland.
“The growth rate improving to one or two per cent must not lull us into a wrong-headed sense [of confidence] or into drawing the wrong conclusions,” warns Veli-Matti Mattila, the chairman of the board at EK. “We should rejoice about the turnaround, but also put it in the right context.”
Mattila commented on the turnaround in the economic situation and the necessity to safeguard the competitiveness of domestic industries in the spring seminar of EK on Wednesday. The seminar was organised against the backdrop of intensifying demands from several trade unions for wage increases and reversals of spending cuts following an improvement in the economic situation.
The Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), for example, has demanded that base wage rates be raised by as much as hundreds of euros.
Mattila estimated that the current growth rate is not enough if the country is intent on maintaining its high standard of living. The growth remains relatively fragile especially in light of the anticipated increase in age-related public expenditures in the years to come.
The Finnish government, he reminded, has agreed to borrow an additional 5.6 billion euros in 2017.
“Our growth rate should be notably higher in light of the especially favourable global market situation and the euro's clear devaluation against the dollar. We must constantly to look after our competitiveness to generate more robust and sustainable growth,” he stressed in his speech.
Mattila also deemed it fitting to send a message to the labour markets despite the decision of EK to withdraw from central-level bargaining negotiations.
“We have pursued reasonable wage moderation in recent years. We should continue this moderation, but what is even more crucial is that we specifically have the willingness to carry out reforms,” he said.
Finnish businesses must also do their utmost to remain relevant amid the ever-evolving market environment, according to Mattila.
“Digitisation and its latest strong trends, software robots and artificial intelligence, are changing industrial sectors and the competitive position of companies while also creating new markets. That is why we need even more company-level flexibility than we realised a few years ago,” he argued.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi