This autumn is filled with work in Parliament. We are busy renewing laws, from mining to taxis, from waste to the duration of compulsory education. Alongside this, we take steps towards sustainability and equality and handle the COVID situation in a responsible way, taking into consideration both health and economics.
The Government budget proposal means that reforms and investments proceed despite the crisis. In a normal situation, net borrowing of billions of euros couldn´t be justified.
Now it is, because in the big picture the other alternatives would be disastrous. Luckily, Finland has handled the crisis excellently, which enables the Government to take actions to support people's daily life and keep the wheels of economy spinning.
I can't deny that I felt proud of our country when I read the headline “How Finland kept Covid in check” in the Financial Times. The topic is also logical for this column, because no matter the subject of discussion, everything is now linked to the notorious virus. COVID-19 challenges our economy and changes the way we pre-evaluate tools for increased working rate, how we look at travelling and define our needs and means for sustainability.
Positive changes in welfare have fallen in the shadow of the pandemic. During restrictions and partial shutdowns, your perspective changes. For instance, it is fully understandable that 30 € more per month, is experienced very differently now than before. The need is real though, especially, for the poorest. I gladly welcome the temporary compensation of 75 €/per month per person to basic social assistance clients due to epidemic. The Finns Party in opposition calls this “poverty populism”. I call it solidarity and humanity.
To tackle climate change, we need, among other things, more and better public transport. Progress was already made before the pandemic. Right now, we must do everything we can to keep people safe when travelling by bus, tube or train. Many people think that using one's own car is a wiser option now, which is true from a personal health perspective in the short run. The need for less polluting cars arises, although we must still ensure that everyone can avoid getting infected on public transport. How this is done, in addition to face masks, is for experts to decide; it is the duty of the MPs to secure funding and to enact the necessary laws.
The second wave is obviously coming. This time we are better prepared and don't need as strong restrictions and lockdowns as in the spring. Testing and contact tracing are more efficient and better now (you already have the Koronavilkku app, don´t you?).
These are times of crisis. We need to take loans to support our communities, companies, people and environment. The problems are huge, so is our determination. We don't know what will happen next, but we know our strengths and ethics. We will make it. As the Moomin character Too-ticky says: “All things are so very uncertain, and that's exactly what makes me feel reassured.”
Social Democratic Parliamentary Group. Member of Parliament since 17.04.2019.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
The articles will be published in order of arrival.