Finnish finance Minister: War in Ukraine increasing spending

The war in Ukraine is putting a half-a-billion euro dent in the budget.

Finance Minister Annika Saarikko (Cen) on Saturday said the war in Ukraine is impacting Finland’s public finances. And mutual sanctions are hurting Finnish economy.

“The fiscal framework agreed last spring will be respected in all areas other than preparedness and overall security. For these, we are building a special clause into the framework,” Saarikko told Yle’s Ykkösaamu talk show on Saturday.

War’s impact on budget

Increased expenditures triggered by the war are amounting to hundreds of millions of euros.

Additional agricultural support, increased Defence Forces funding, and aid for the transport sector have all been included in the supplementary budget.

“The crisis makes it necessary to increase investment in defence, security supply, energy and refugees. We want municipalities to play a strong role in tackling the refugee issue,” Saarikko told Ykkösaamu.

Some 60,000 Ukrainians are expected to arrive in Finland.

“From now on it will mean an additional cost of at least half a billion a year. I trust that we have the broad support of the people on this,” Saarikko added.

The additional budget expenditures in response to the war will require Finland taking on more debt, which has sparked concern over government borrowing.

Petteri Orpo,chair of the National Coalition Party (NCP), has called for cuts to social programmes. Saarikko, who heads the Centre Party, said she disagreed with this idea.

“Suggestions that now is the right time to cut off the lowest income earners does not help the country,” she said.

Saarikko, who chairs a special ministerial working group set up to deal with the impacts of the Ukraine war, also touched on other ongoing economic concerns.

Last week, President Sauli Niinistö told Ykkösaamu that Nato membership was important for Finland’s international image as it could bolster confidence in the country’s security. That said, the show asked Saarikko whether she believed that investors are worried about Finland’s close proximity to Russia.

“There are no signs of this yet, and I don’t want to stir anything up that’s not there.”

With the nurses’ strike ongoing, Saarikko also reacted to calls for 30-percent salary increases over five years.

“According to the preliminary calculations by the Ministry of Finance, if all salaries for employees in the entire municipal sector increased by that much, the effects on public finances in five years’ time would be just under four billion a year.”

Saarikko also highlighted that prior to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Finland’s economic forecast for this year was ‘excellent’, saying, “we were emerging rapidly from the economic recession caused by Covid.”

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