Mika Lintilä: “This is the worst moment of Finland’s economic history”

The Minister for Economic Affairs unveiled a new type of financial assistance for medium-sized businesses.

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Minister for Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) and Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) at a Helsinki press conference, Friday 3rd April 2020 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) says the coronavirus crisis “is the worst moment of Finland’s economic history” as he set out new help for entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses.

At a Friday morning press conference with Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP), Lintilä unveiled a new financing programme for businesses worth €150 million, through state-owned private equity company Tesi.

Companies with more than 50 employees and a turnover of at least €10 million are eligible to apply for assistance – and must show the prospect of future profitability as well.

It’s the latest plank in the government’s platform of economic assistance to help Finnish businesses cope with the financial crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The state has reacted quickly to the situation caused by the coronavirus by increasing Finnvera’s mandate and corporate funding in the first supplementary budget for 2020. Banks have increased their funding, but in addition to these measures, venture capital is also needed. Tesi’s new program meets this need” says Lintilä.

There have already been thousands of applications for different types of financial help received by the various government organisations processing claims, in particular to ELYCentres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment which are helping smaller businesses on regional level. Business Finland, which is offering grants to medium-sized companies also has a backlog of applications waiting to be processed.

Entrepreneurs entitled to unemployment protection

Earlier this week the government said that entrepreneurs could receive unemployment benefits on a temporary basis because of the sudden and unexpected decline in demand for their services.

The measures would continue until the end of June 2020 and make it easier for entrepreneurs to apply for, and receive, the benefit, according to ministers.

To qualify for the unemployment benefits, entrepreneurs must either have ended their full time work; or be earning less than €1,089.67 per month from their business.

Entrepreneurs will not be required to legally wind up their business or waive any insurance payments they may be entitled to during this time.

Anyone who meets the criteria and wants to apply for the temporary unemployment benefits, which are backdated to 15th March, must register as an unemployed jobseeker with the Employment and Economic Development Office, and then apply to Kela for the temporary support.