Finland will have to face a decline in the standard of living unless it adapts to the demands of globalisation, warns Björn Wahlroos, the board chairman at Nordea and Sampo.
Wahlroos reiterated his support for basic income schemes yesterday in a speech broadcast live by Ilta-Sanomat by suggesting that basic income is one of the few ways for the country to succeed in the modern-day world.
“The only alternatives to reforms are a social crisis and constantly growing unemployment,” he said. “And the alternative to globalisation is a constantly falling standard of living.”
Wahlroos also expressed his doubts about the demands of trade unions that wages be maintained at a high enough level to cover the cost of living by estimating that the current minimum wages will make it impossible to maintain full employment in the future. The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), for example, has stated that earned income must always be enough to cover the cost of living in Finland.
“It's a beautiful idea,” admitted Wahlroos. “I've said that it's the most brilliant and beautiful idea to a number of SAK chairmen, but unfortunately it won't be realistic in the future.”
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“We'll have to develop – and develop ourselves towards – a society where it'll be possible to guarantee the income level and well-being of people without ravaging the labour markets. And the solution will be a basic income scheme – be it this one or another one.”
A well-designed basic income scheme, he estimated, will reduce inactivity traps and enable people to accept job offers with wages lower than the minimum wages prescribed under the collective agreements. The Government's proposal for a limited basic income experiment, however, is not the answer due to its design flaws, according to Wahlroos.
He also urged the country to do its utmost to remain at the forefront of product development by ensuring that the living conditions are attractive for both the winners and losers of digitisation. The policy decisions made to attract the winners of digitisation, he added, must also be considerate of the disadvantaged.
A basic income scheme would be one way to achieve that, he reiterated.
Wahlroos also urged policy-makers to distance themselves from the labour market organisations in order not to grant them a veto right on all decisions concerning the labour markets and the society at large.
“They have traditionally opposed a large share of [labour market] reforms,” he reminded.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Petteri Paalasmaa – Uusi Suomi
Source: Uusi Suomi