“I want to thank everyone for a good-spirited, constructive and solutions-oriented negotiating process,” said Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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ANTTI RINNE, the chairperson of the Social Democratic Party, on Sunday announced the five parties that have taken part in the coalition formation negotiations over the past weeks have finalised the government programme and agreed on the distribution of ministerial portfolios.

“An almost four-week operation is behind us. The government programme is ready and the ministerial posts have been distributed,” he tweeted yesterday evening.

STT on Sunday reported that the government is set to consist of 19 ministers, signalling an increase of two from the government of Juha Sipilä (Centre). Seven of the portfolios will be taken by the Social Democrats, five by the Centre, three by the Greens, two by the Left Alliance and two by the Swedish People’s Party, according to Iltalehti.

The Greens, for example, is to take on the portfolios of the minister for foreign affairs, the minister of the environment and the minister of the interior.

Both Iltalehti and Helsingin Sanomat revealed yesterday that they have obtained a copy of the roughly 150-page draft government programme, reporting that the government is to increase spending by 1.23 billion euros, raise taxes to create 730 million euros in revenue, raise the school-leaving age by a year to 18 and raise the annual refugee quota to at least 850.

The government is also to strengthen the health care guarantee to ensure people do not have to wait for non-urgent health care for more than seven days, provide free contraceptives to all under 25-year-olds and remove the sterilisation requirement for gender re-assignment procedures from the act on trans people.

The tax credit for household expenses will be reduced by 15–40 per cent and capped at 2,250 euros to generate savings of 95 million euros, while the taxes on alcohol, tobacco and, possibly, sugar will be raised. Income tax rates, by contrast, will be lowered by 200 million euros and a negative income tax be trialled, according to the newspapers.

In the field of domestic policy, the number of police officers will be increased by 300, the punishments for serious sex and violent offences – especially against children – will be toughened, and the definition of rape re-defined to be based on lack of consent.

The growing concerns about climate change are evident particularly in the areas of energy and transport policy: the government is reportedly prepared to raise taxes on fossil fuels to create 250 million euros in revenue, reduce the use of peat and other fossil fuels, foster the production of carbon sinks and revise the legislation to allow for the introduction of road tolls.

In addition to raising the refugee quota, the government is to boost employment-based immigration, adopt a six-month target for processing asylum claims, revise the legislation to make it possible to use ankle monitors to track unsuccessful asylum seekers and explore the possibility to facilitate family reunifications.

The government is also to launch the reforms of both the family leave and social and health care systems, and commence preparatory work on new high-speed rail links between Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. 

The government programme will be published in full in a press conference in Library Oodi in Helsinki at 10.30am on Monday.

Each of the five parties will still have to secure approval for the programme from its governing body or membership.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi