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Parliament to decide on services for former presidents


Parliament to decide on services for former presidents Tarja Halonen
Parliament to decide on services for former presidents Martti Ahtisaari
Parliament to decide on services for former presidents Mauno Koivisto
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New proposed legislation is before Parliament specifying the retirement benefits and services that former Finnish presidents are to be entitled to.
      The aim is to enact the measures from the beginning of March, which is when President Tarja Halonen will be leaving office.
      The bill, which came before Parliament on Tuesday, specifies services for former presidents in greater detail than before. Present legislation mentions security and office services, as well as “other equivalent” benefits. The proposed legislation also mentions transport and secretarial services.
     
Former presidents will be entitled to compensation for travel expenses, as well as assistance in travel arrangements, if the travel is for participation in state events. Private travel would not be paid for out of state funds.
      The bill also stipulates that when a former president dies, his or her surviving spouse and underage children would be allowed to continue living in state housing. The spouse and children would also be entitled to security services, if needed.
     
When President Tarja Halonen steps down at the end of her second term, the number of living former presidents in Finland will rise to three, leading to an increase in state expenses.
      In next year’s draft budget, the Office of the President has been granted EUR 560,000 for expenses incurred by former presidents Mauno Koivisto and Martti Ahtisaari, as well as the soon-to-be ex-President Halonen.
      In addition to services, the money will cover rent if the former President lives in rental accommodation provided by the state.
     
Maintenance costs of former presidents surged in 2008 when Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Peace Prize, which led to a need for more security services.
      The pensions for retired presidents are paid out of the State Treasury. A former president’s pension is 60 per cent of the remuneration that a president in office is entitled to – EUR 75,600 a year.
      An amendment is currently under consideration in Parliament which would raise the remuneration for a president in office to EUR 160,000, which would automatically boost presidential pension to EUR 96,000 a year.
      Former presidents do not pay tax on their pensions.


Helsingin Sanomat


  2.11.2011 - TODAY
 Parliament to decide on services for former presidents

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