Morning Headlines: Wednesday 18th April 2018

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Former US Ambassador Launches Broadside At VR

The former American Ambassador to Finland has written a scathing account of his dealings with state-owned railway company VR’s top management. This morning, Bruch Oreck detailed his plans to buy the Konepaja railway yard and buildings in Helsinki’s Vallila neighbourhood. Oreck says that he spent hundreds of thousands of euros making surveys, and that his accepted offer included a commitment to clean up all the environmental damage at the site. The ex-ambassador planned to rebrand Konepaja as The Train Factory, with a market hall and work spaces. However at the last minute, and after months of negotiations with VR, Helsinki City Hall, local residents, architects and engineers, he says senior VR managers told him he had to re-bid and then accepted another offer for the property. Oreck writes that this is a failing of a basic Finnish value, that people stick by their word. “I will let you draw your own conclusions as to what really happened with respect to this new potential buyer” he says in a lengthy Facebook post.

Poll: Social Democrats Back On Top

The Social Democrats are the most popular political party in Finland – that is, according to a new poll out this morning in Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. If parliamentary elections were held now, SDP would get 21.4% of the votes. The National Coalition Party would come second with 20.6%. The Centre Party of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä would finish third, with the Greens in fourth place. The survey was carried out between 19th March and 12th April, and involved 2400 people. The margin of error is 2% in either direction.

Report: European Parliament Claws Back Cash From MP Väyrynen

Finnish MEP, former presidential candidate and wannabe Centre Party leader Paavo Väyrynen is being ordered to pay back travel expenses to the European Parliament. That’s according to a story this morning in Rural Future newspaper. The travel allowances relate to payments for journeys made in 2016, but the amount won’t be revealed until the end of April. Väyrynen tells the paper he intends to appeal the decision.

More & More Foreign Companies Investing In Finland

Foreign companies invested heavily in Finland last year. According to Business Finland there were 336 new international companies and acquisitions in 2017 – that’s up 20% from the year before. The largest investments came from Sweden, with 95 new companies investing in Finland. Other major investor companies were Britain (55), USA (30), Denmark (25) and Norway (19) and China (12). Most new foreign-owned enterprises were set up in business, health and welfare sectors, and tech companies. There are currently about 4600 international companies operating in Finland, which pay nearly €1.5 billion in corporation tax each year and employ around 240,000 people.

Driving Speed Tests Today

If you’re driving in Finland today – or any day – watch your speed! Finnish police are joining their counterparts in more than 20 European countries to launch a 24 hour operation to catch speeders on the country’s roads. In particular, cops are keeping a careful eye on roads where they know drivers tend to go over the speed limit.

Wednesday Morning Weather

Wednesday morning starts of bright and sunny for most of the country according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI. There might be some light cloud cover in the capital city region, but the temperature will feel nice at +5°C. In the south west, and up the west coast of the country expect sunshine and temperatures up to +4°C; and it’s the same story for the eastern border as well. Southern Lapland will have temperatures at +5°C but in the north of Lapland, it will still be below freezing at the start of Wednesday.

Weather forecast for Wednesday 18th April 2018 / Credit: Finnish Meteorological Institute