Maria Ohisalo interview: police budgets, asylum reform & hate speech
Finland’s Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo says a lot of the most contentions parts of her portfolio are very much a work in progress. In an interview with News Now Finland, Ohisalo says the government is meeting its promises on policing numbers and hopes to do more to raise staffing levels and improve infrastructure. She says that reforming the asylum process to make it more human and “justice-proof” is also ongoing, and that ‘legacy’ asylum seekers who still have not had their cases resolved since the peak of asylum claims in 2015 and 2016 should probably just be allowed to stay in Finland if they’ve already made a life here. Read more at our original story here.
20,000 students in Turku without school food during strike
Up to 20,000 students and young people will be left without food at school today after the Public and Welfare Sector union JHL announced a strike for its members over employer Arkea’s decision to switch to a new labour agreement. The City of Turku say the strike is illegal. “The city had no information on the timing of the strike […] so strike preparedness has been difficult” says Timo Jalonen from Turku’s Education Services. Officials are advising parents to provide their own food for children during the strike.
Customs refunding millions after currency error
The Finnish Customs service Tulli will have to refund around €11.5 million euros to importers, after using the wrong exchange rates to calculate import taxes. In total 960,000 customs declarations were made during for a three year period from May 2016 until June 2019, when some currency calculations were based on exchange rates from a Finnish bank, when the rates of the European Central Bank should have been used. The wrong currency exchange rates were calculated for Russian rubles, Swedish crowns, Chinese yuan and US dollars. The error lead to overtaxing of approximately 1.5% to 2.5% on import duties in some cases. Companies who think they’ve been affected will have to apply for a refund, which officials say might not be finalised until next year.
Museum gets mystery €1 million donation
The Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki has received a one million euro donation from a mystery benefactor. The museum’s board made the announcement on Wendesday morning saying that the money has to be included in the museum’s investment portfolio, with the proceeds then used by the museum to continue its activities. One stipulation is that the person making the donation wants to remain anonymous. The museum director says such a large donation is rare in Finnish cultural circles and says it encourages the museum to continue its successful and ambitions work.
Swedish Heritage Day
The flags are flying today for Swedish Heritage Day – Svenska Dagen – which celebrates one of Finland’s two official languages, and the contribution of Swedish speaking Finns to the country. There are around 300,000 Swedish speaking Finns, roughly 5% of the population, with their language rights enshrined in the constitution. There’s publicly-funded Swedish education all the way from kindergarten to university; Swedish public service media; and the right to use Swedish in any and all situations involving legislative issues, police and judicial courts. Bilingually defined municipalities have the same obligations within their jurisdiction.
Wednesday morning weather
It’s another bitterly cold start to the day across the whole country, especially in northern and eastern parts of Finland, and down the Ostrobothnia coast. Temperatures range from -8°C in Enontekiö to -17°C around Inari with snow in the forecast. There’s snow too for Kemi with temperatures dropping as low as -21°C at the start of Wednesday. Oulu sees a chilly morning at -12°C; while -18°C in Joensuu hopefully feels nicer with bright sunshine. There’s sunshine too for south east Finland around Lappeenranta, along the south coast for Kotka and Porvoo and into the capital city region as well with temperatures of -5°C this morning. Expect sunshine in Turku and the south west, and for Pirkanmaa as well, and a temperature dip to -10°C for Pori and Rauma on the west coast.