Why is the center ready to cut education as well? Annika Saarikko answers

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Annika Saarikko, chairperson of Keskutta, says in Iltalehti's chairperson interview that Annika Saarikko, chairperson of Keskutta, was in Iltalehte's chairperson interview on Tuesday. See the exam here. IL-TVhannamari.ahonen@iltalehti.fiToday at 9:03 a.m.

The president of the center, Annika Saarikko, was on trial at Iltalehti on Tuesday.

< strong>You are the finance minister of this government. You are leaving the future finance minister a legacy of a state economy in a miserable condition. Finland is in debt and the debt is only growing. How do you think you have succeeded?

– Of course, for me and for Finland as a whole, I would have wished to live in different times. The exceptional years in the middle of the corona and the Russian war of aggression have increased indebtedness. In that respect, my mind is at ease that these big billion-dollar solutions have the support of the entire parliament, from the government to the opposition.

– The bigger problem is the debt that has continued for longer, a 15-year burden for us Finns to bear. Above all, debt interest will weaken the economy in the coming years.

As the finance minister, you and the entire government have defended yourself, that this season we had to deal with the corona, the consequences of the Russian war of aggression, and the energy crisis. These crises have also tested other Nordic countries, which have not become indebted at the rate of Finland. So, are crises an explanation for indebtedness?

– It is absolutely true that we have lagged behind the other Nordic countries for a long time both in terms of economic growth and employment. The good thing is that in terms of the number of employed people, we are gradually catching up to the level of other Nordic countries.

– In terms of productivity, entrepreneurship and thus the success of society, we have fallen behind. That's why our decision to invest in research and development is necessary in order to catch up with the other Nordic countries.

Corona subsidies were also distributed to entrepreneurs who would not have needed them the most. Were corona subsidies distributed too carelessly?

– It is possible to practice hindsight. Now it is easy to say that at the beginning of the corona crisis it would have been possible to act differently, for example, with regard to business subsidies. When we recall the atmosphere from the spring of 2020, solutions were made with days, hours of notice.

Were there sectors that were given too much corona subsidies?

– I can't do that kind of analysis. The Finnish culture and events industry had to go a long way to make us decision-makers understand how the industry works, how its financial situation developed and collapsed. There was a lot we could have done differently on that side.

During the energy crisis, the government wanted to support citizens struggling with high electricity bills. According to the researchers, those with high incomes also benefited the most. Likewise, everyone received the double child allowance, whether it was a rich or a low-income family with children. Was government money distributed too easily again?

– Both the energy crisis and the corona have been connected by decision-making, which has had to be done quickly. Then there is no perfect model. I consider it justified that we ended up supporting Finns in several different ways in the middle of the rise in energy prices. As we look to the coming winter, we cannot be sure that the energy crisis is over. We now have more time to refine a support model that targets those who need support the most.

– I am ready to defend the child benefit decision. So many economic problems affect families with children, many of whom have mortgage debt. In the grocery store, the bag is bigger for families with children. Child benefit is the only benefit that is not linked to price increases.

You have said that you do not rule out any potential savings in advance. So the center is ready to cut education as well?

– I wanted to highlight the fact that the number of children has collapsed in Finland. It is a big change in society when children are born less than every 150 years. In the next election period, it means that there will be a good 50,000 fewer children in elementary school than now. The same amount we spend now is directed at a smaller group of children.

You also promise that there must be at least one social and health center in every municipality. Is it too much to promise when you know that in the welfare areas it is also necessary to give up some services, so that the costs don't just keep increasing?

– Every Finn is entitled to basic services in their own municipality . We have good examples of how savings, efficiency and rationalization of operations can be made in other ways than by shutting down operations. For example, if travel expenses were transferred to the same money pot as other money in the welfare area, it would encourage people to think about local services. And it's not like someone else somewhere, i.e. Kela, pays for moving people from one place to another.

The center proposes special economic zones for weakly successful regions in Finland. Students would have part of their student loan forgiven if they move there. Are you trying to drive recent graduates away from the capital region, which is suffering from a labor shortage, and acts as the engine of the economy, to the central areas of northern and eastern Finland?

– Keskusta wants to build a Finland where everyone has the opportunity to build a good life where they see fit. The vitality of all of Finland is important to my party. Nowadays, it also has a large security dimension. The labor shortage does not only affect the capital region, but the whole of Finland, so that Local Services can be secured. Student loan credit is, for example, already in use in Norway.

Experts say that the most effective way to prevent the loss of nature and the shrinking of the carbon sink is to reduce deforestation. Does the center now want to forget the facts and talk about fertilizing forests and property rights, if the only way is to reduce logging?

– We don't want to forget the facts. The centre's point of view is just different from, say, other government parties. We also strongly consider the importance of emissions. That's exactly why Juha Sipilä ended up banning coal, for example(central) during the reign. So that we don't just focus on forests, but on why they are needed as carbon sinks. We are practical partners of nature. The best climate and carbon sink policy is good forest management.

So cutting should not be reduced?

– We are not recording, for example, a number of fellings in the law. We understand that there are many Finnish forests. Coordinating climate, economy and property protection is a wise policy.

Carbon loss has been found in the land use sector, which includes agriculture in addition to forests. Why is the reduction of emissions not progressing properly in agriculture? Has the center been a bottleneck here?

– There has been continuous development in agriculture in a more climate-friendly direction. Finnish food industry operators are committed to the goal of carbon neutrality, and then they also commit the farms from which they get their raw materials. At the same time, we have a historic profitability crisis in agriculture. It is difficult to demand mandatory green actions if the account is in the red. In this country, you have to produce your own food, that's also a question of security of supply. Blaming the farmers should stop, they are the decision-makers.

In the maternity package, you would add the child's stock savings account, into which the state will provide a nest egg. How big would such a nest egg be?

– The message in favor of saving and investing is part of our thinking about the importance of domestic ownership. In our opinion, it would be right from the point of view of future generations that society would support investing in Finland and domestic ownership from childhood. It has a value-based message. As I recall, the scale of the presentation for the state economy is fifteen million.

Why is the center ready to cut education too? Annika Saarikko answers

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