Sailas believes that many stimulus proposals by HS readers will be implemented
Raimo Sailas, who has been given the task of looking into different ways that the state could stimulate the Finnish economy, believes that many of the proposals for economic stimulation put forward by readers of Helsingin Sanomat can be implemented.
At the request of Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen (Nat. Coalition Party), Sailas is looking for various possible projects that could be taken up in the state stimulation programme.
Helsingin Sanomat, meanwhile, recently asked readers to submit proposals for projects which could benefit from state stimulus funds.
Sailas was given the suggestions on Friday. There were nearly 300 messages, and many of them contained several proposals.
Sailas was surprised at the number of responses, and at how many of them were well thought.
Sailas had asked officials at the budgetary department of the Ministry of Finance to conduct assessments on many of the proposals.
Sailas noted that the people making the suggestions had understood that the stimulus was to be one-off in character, and that it must not involve a long-term commitment that would burden state finances for years ahead.
“There were hardly any proposals for increasing social benefits.”
Sailas expects a number of the proposals to be implemented, even though they might not be included in the official recovery package. The money is to be targeted toward the larger main sectors, and not every small project will be itemised separately.
Sailas has set a number of criteria for a good stimulus project: the project must get started this year, the project must end this year, and the target needs to have a maximum job-creating effect in proportion to the money spent.
The call for a speedy initiation rules out proposals such as new railways, light rail, and other larger projects.
“Finns are good at building new things, but it is also important to repair that which is old. In fact, not it is good that we have so many public swimming pools, day care centres, and schools that are in need of repair.”
The government has been criticised for targeting stimulus toward sectors involving men, with so much effort being put in the construction industry.
Sailas responds: “The slump this time is affecting predominantly male sectors such as construction in the first phase. In predominantly female professions, such as the municipal sector, shops, and restaurants, the emergency is not so great.”
The state has only EUR 300 million in money available for this year, which Sailas says is enough for ample stimulation.
The government will have to discuss soon what will happen if the budget framework is exceeded.
“One alternative is, that if the framework is exceeded this year, there will be a possibility to fall below it by an equivalent amount in 2011.”