The Finnish government conceded yesterday that it has no choice but to postpone the implementation of what has been touted as its most important reform: the social, health care and regional government reform.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) stated in a press conference that the reform would be carried out one year behind schedule, in 2021.
He also estimated that the delay will raise the costs of the reform by roughly 200 million euros. The Centre, Blue Reform and National Coalition subsequently announced their parliamentary groups have approved the revised timetable and remain committed to implementing the reform in spite of the one-year delay and additional costs.
“The most important thing now is to get the reform over the finish line,” Sipilä was quoted as saying by Helsingin Sanomat.
The timetable for the massive reform was revised because the original timetable proved too optimistic for the Parliament’s Social Affairs and Health Committee. The committee will continue drafting its statement on the reform bill until Friday, 6 July, at an irregular meeting on 20 August and after the start of the autumn session on 3 September.
The announcement also prompted speculation over the timing of the first county elections. Sipilä indicated that the government is exploring the possibility of organising the elections in May 2019.
Sampo Terho (BR), the Minister of European Affairs, Culture and Sports, proposed that all three elections scheduled for next year – the European elections, parliamentary elections and county elections – be organised concurrently in May.
“The whole nation is frustrated with this dilly-dallying. No one would like to see this drag on any further. But there’s at least something positive here: we can now consolidate the European, parliamentary and county elections. That way we can make the election process more efficient,” he told.
His proposal received little support from Petteri Orpo (NCP), the Minister of Finance, but some from Antti Kaikkonen, the chairperson of the Centre Parliamentary Group. Sipilä, in turn, viewed that the timing of the elections should be decided by the Finnish Parliament, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
Sipilä stated to YLE on Monday that if the reform was postponed further he would issue a government statement to the Parliament, a procedure that would have resulted in a vote of confidence.
He announced yesterday that due to the impending summer recess he will instead submit a prime minister’s announcement on the timetable for the social, health care and regional government reform.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Seppo Samuli – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi