Kela service point in Kamppi. LEHTIKUVA

The Finnish government is gearing up to implement a series of substantial changes to the country's social security system in 2024, with far-reaching implications for benefit rates and eligibility criteria. These planned changes, detailed in the government program, will be introduced gradually throughout the year, rather than all at once at the beginning of 2024.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will be tasked with finalizing and submitting the government's legislative proposals to Parliament for approval.

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Nearly 40 per cent of Finns feel that digital services have a negative effect on concentration – Disconnect Day on 1 October invites people to put their devices away

The constant use of digital services is taking a toll on the concentration of nearly 40% of Finns, according to DNA's annual Digital Life survey. In response to this growing concern, DNA is organizing the second annual Disconnect Day on October 1st, 2023, urging people to put away their smart devices and rediscover the joy of uninterrupted moments.

The survey revealed that a significant portion of the population, particularly those under 35, is finding it challenging to detach from their smartphones and other digital devices.

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Men in a meeting in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA

According to the updated Glass Ceiling Index by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA), the proportion of women in leadership positions in Finland stood at 36.3 percent in 2022. While this figure is higher than the OECD average, it reveals stagnation in gender diversity within leadership roles in the country. In recent years, the percentage of women in leadership positions has even decreased.

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Russian citizens and Finnish border guard (front left) and customs official ('Tulli') at the Vaalimaa border check point between Finland and Russia in Virolahti, Finland on Friday, 30th Sep., 2022. LEHTIKUVA

The ban on the import of cars registered in Russia, which began on Saturday night, has significantly slowed border traffic. During the weekend, a total of 81 cars arrived, of which Customs turned away 37.

Starting from 00:00 on September 16, 2023, Customs began implementing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' directive on the import ban for cars registered in Russia.

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Minister of Science and Culture Sari Multala (NCP) arrived for a joint presser before the ruling parties commenced their inaugural budget session in Helsinki on Tuesday, 19 September 2023. Multala on Wednesday told Helsingin Sanomat that it remains impossible to say how much of the investments the government intends to make in research, development and innovation will be channelled to universities. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

MINISTER of Science and Culture Sari Multala (NCP) on Wednesday stated to Helsingin Sanomat that it is premature to estimate how much of the 280 million euros earmarked for research, development and innovation in the newly unveiled budget draft will go to universities.

“It’s impossible to say in advance because a large share of the funding goes through competitive funding at both at the Academy of Finland and Business Finland. Universities can benefit from the funding through both channels,” she elaborated.

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Minister of Finance Riikka Purra and Prime Minister Petteri Orpo prepared to present the conclusions of the newly concluded budget session in Helsinki on Tuesday, 19 September 2023. The government will borrow 1.4 billion euros more than expected to finance its almost 88-billion-euro budget for next year. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

FINLAND will borrow 11.5 billion euros to finance its budget of 87.9 billion euros for 2024, according to Minister of Finance Riikka Purra (PS).

The Ministry of Finance estimated as recently as last month that the budget would have a deficit of 10.1 billion euros, but it has since had to revise down its estimate of tax revenue by 1.4 billion euros.

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HELSINKI - A spontaneous walkout by ground handling staff is currently underway at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, affecting all flights. Approximately 500 employees from the Aviation Union's IAU's Civil Air Traffic Workers branch 012 have left their posts. These employees work for Aviator Airport Services Finland, Swissport Finland, and RTG Ground Handling.

The sudden protest was triggered by Finnair's unilateral decision announced today to cease providing zone flight tickets, akin to employment benefits, to the workers of companies responsible for its ground handling services, the IAU stated in a press release.

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Katja Syvärinen, a deputy board chairperson at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), reacted at a joint news conference of trade unions in Helsinki on Thursday, 21 September 2023. Trade unions, she announced, will stage a series of protests in the coming couple of weeks in a bid to prompt the government to scrap its labour market reforms and social security cuts. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

THE CENTRAL ORGANISATION of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) on Thursday announced it and its member unions will orchestrate a series of protests against the labour market and social security policies pursued by the government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP).

Ranging from regional protests to walk-outs, the protests will take place three days a week for the next three weeks.

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A major milestone in Helsinki's public transportation is set to be achieved as the high-speed tram line, known as Line 15, connecting Itäkeskus in Helsinki to Keilaniemi in Espoo, is scheduled to commence its operations on Saturday, October 21. This new 25-kilometer tram line will introduce tram services to entirely new areas while also providing convenient interchange connections with both the metro and commuter trains.

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LEHTIKUVA

Finland's Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has revealed that elderly citizens and specific risk groups will receive their COVID-19 booster shots this fall using a new variant vaccine. In a synchronized effort to combat the pandemic and seasonal flu, THL recommends administering the COVID-19 booster vaccines alongside the influenza vaccines.

Welfare Regions, termed 'hyvinvointialueet' in Finnish, have the autonomy to expedite vaccinations for their most vulnerable groups based on their discretion.

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Minister of Finance Riikka Purra (PS) talked about the government’s budget draft for 2024 at a news conference in Helsinki on Tuesday, 19 September 2023. Purra on Wednesday told YLE that she personally has no need to hide the fact that the government is looking to make significant cuts in social security for the sake of the economy. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

THE TAX BURDEN of Finnish wage earners will decline across income brackets under the budget proposal presented by the government on Tuesday.

The government announced it has decided to lower income taxation to the tune of 100 million euros with a particular emphasis on low and middle-income earners. The tax burden of high-income earners, in turn, will decrease due to the decision to continue levying the solidarity tax at a reduced rate.

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In a significant development, Finnish Customs has successfully seized the "Piilopuoti" web server in collaboration with foreign authorities and confiscated its contents. The web server had been in operation within the Tor network since 2022.

The Finnish-language website, specializing in the sale of narcotics, was first launched on May 18, 2022.

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Kela service point in Kamppi. LEHTIKUVA

The Finnish government has outlined substantial changes to several benefits provided by Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. To grasp the magnitude of these changes, it's crucial to examine the current distribution of benefits and the impending cuts or increases as outlined in the government program.

According to statistical data, Kela's expenditure on benefits has remained relatively stable, hovering between €15 billion and €16 billion annually from 2012 to 2022.

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Minister of Social Security Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP) arrived for the government’s budget session at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Helsinki on 19 September 2023. Grahn-Laasonen on Wednesday conceded that the cuts in parental allowance and family leave compensation would have harmed the labour-market position of women. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) has backtracked on two spending cuts forwarded in its action plan, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The government decided in its newly concluded budget session that it will call off the cuts in the parental allowance and family leave compensation disbursed to employers, reveal minutes of the session seen by the daily newspaper.

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Tram tracks are already being built on the Finkensilta bridge connecting Kalasatama and Korkeasaari. Image: HTJ Oy

The construction of three new bridges and the accompanying tramway connecting Hakaniemi to Laajasalo, along with extensive civil engineering, road construction, and municipal infrastructure work, has surpassed the halfway point. The project remains on schedule, with passenger tram service expected to commence in 2027.

Crown bridges expresses its gratitude to the city's residents for their patience during the construction, which has included noise, traffic adjustments, and other inconveniences.

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A person set to fill in a card supporting the establishment of a constituency association for the presidential bid of Pekka Haavisto (Greens) in Helsinki on 14 August 2023. Haavisto holds a clear advantage over all the other candidates in the race as far as the first round of voting is concerned, reveals a new poll by YLE. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

THE FINNISH presidential election is shaping out to be a closely fought affair, suggests an opinion poll commissioned by YLE.

Pekka Haavisto (Greens) emerged as a clear public favourite in the poll section representing the first round of voting, winning 31 per cent of the vote – 12 percentage points more than the runner-up, Alexander Stubb (NCP).

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