THE MINISTRY of Finance on Monday unveiled its proposal for the fourth supplementary budget of the year, estimating that public borrowing will fall about 2.5 billion euros short of earlier estimates and amount to 11.9 billion euros in 2021.
The drop in borrowing is a consequence of the expectation that tax revenues will exceed earlier projections by 1.5 billion euros.
The positive fiscal development is not at least directly a result of measures adopted by the government, acknowledged the Ministry of Finance. The new-found optimism stems from better-than-expected employment growth and the latest data on capital gains and withholding tax.
The government is scheduled to discuss the supplementary budget draft on 2 November. It is to be submitted for parliamentary consideration on 4 November.
The proposal includes a 30-million-euro increase in funding for policing.
The Police of Finland had pleaded publicly that its funding be increased, saying otherwise it will have no choice but to initiate consultative negotiations with a view to reducing 200–250 person-years. It announced yesterday in response to the release of the supplementary budget it has called off the statutory process.
“The police will now focus on planning its operations in 2022 in order to achieve the target of 7,500 person-year target set forth in the government programme and to sustain its operations at the present level,” said National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen.
The Finnish government last month presented its budget proposal for next year, setting aside 808 million euros for the Police of Finland. The costs of police operations will amount to 838 million euros this year, exceeding the 806 million euros budgeted for them. The overdraw is made possible by funding carried over from previous years but, with the carry-over funding being exhausted this year, the funding will effectively drop in 2022.
Helsingin Sanomat reported last week that the debate has re-kindled questions about the use of policing appropriations.
Sources within the government have voiced their bafflement about the rapid rise in policing expenses – about 100 million euros in only a few years – and the plan to cut personnel amid an injection of funding specified for increasing the number of police officers. By announcing the need to cut up to 250 person-years, the police was fundamentally saying 808 million euros suffices for 7,200 person-years, a strength it put together with 716 million euros in 2018.
“Why isn’t the government objective of raising the number of police not achieved despite an increase in euros – to 800 million euros?” Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Centre) asked in the Parliament House in September.
The police brass, she said, pointed to property and wage costs as the explanation.
The response of the brass to the budget draft has even stirred up anger within the government, according to Helsingin Sanomat. Representatives of the police administration even contacted lawmakers in each electoral district, urging them to call attention to the budget.
No other authority has resorted to such measures, several sources said to the newspaper.
A retired chief inspector alleged in his recent doctoral thesis that the police administration is eating up a significant share of the funding, in part because of failed and over-the-budget data system projects. The size of the administration has grown significantly in the past five years, all the while there have been reports about a lack of officers for patrol and investigation duties.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT