Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) yesterday officially announced that the social, health care and regional government reform will be postponed by a year until 2021, adding that the postponement warrants a thorough discussion in the Finnish Parliament.
“As prime minister, I sincerely hope that the hearts of regional developers have not been broken by the slowness of national decision-making,” he lamented in the Session Hall.
Both Finland and the Finnish political system must be able to do better, according to Sipilä.
“This should be a concern to all of us in this hall. The postponement is undeniably a disappointment. We all have to take a look in the mirror, including myself. We must be able to do better in the future,” he stressed, reminding that various indicators suggest public confidence in democracy and policy-making is on the decline in Finland.
Sipilä also reminded that the objectives of the reform include reducing wait times for social and health care, decreasing health inequalities and limiting the increase in social and health care costs. The reform, he added, is crucial for the efforts to wipe out the sustainability deficit of the public economy as it is projected to account for three billion of the 10-billion-euro savings target of the government.
“Reducing costs by three billion euros would effectively mean that real costs grew by 0.9 per cent a year instead of the current projection of 2.4 per cent,” he highlighted.
The massive reform would establish 18 counties, overhaul the social and health care system and its funding, increase patients’ freedom to choose their service provider, and make the counties responsible for organising a number of services including rescue and business development services.
“We’re now faced with the fact that this historically massive and innovative reform will require more time than anticipated in the Parliament. Even though the government submitted the bills in the time it promised, the schedule turned out to be too tight for the counties to become operational in 2020,” he said.
The Finnish government has reportedly set its sights on organising the first county elections in May 2019.
Sipilä pointed out that officials have estimated that a minimum of ten months is required after the elections before the counties can become operational. “Because the councils won’t start their work until next summer, this requirement is no longer met,” he added.
“It’s now crucial to make sure that the development work on the reform continues. That’s why the government wants to send a strong message that the goal is still clear – we’re making the largest service and administration reform ever in Finland.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi