Finnish Politics This Week – What’s for Breakfast?

The two main Finnish media companies have been stirring up things in their tea-cups with dramatic and earth-shattering investigative journalism this last week, just as the population is getting ready for our big municipal elections.

Their sharp-eyed boys and girls in the glass-clad offices discovered that the Social Democrat PM has been chewing her Kellog’s Corn Flakes without paying tax on this huge benefit when she is living in her official residence.

It was clear that the journalists launched their tirade without checking how long this had been going on or by deliberately ignoring past if former PMs had enjoyed the same benefits. The accusation was presented as if she alone had been enjoying a free breakfast while no mention was made about former PMs enjoying the same “highly profitable” benefit.

It was, however, clear from the pronouncements of senior civil servants that this had been sanctioned by specific legislation and had been going on for a long time. Undoubtedly former PMs have enjoyed the same benefits, but this was neither checked nor mentioned in the news reports.

FinnishNews did make a “Request for Information” to the PM’s Office on what benefits were used by former PM’s during the last 10 or 20 years. FinnishNews was told that a report is being prepared. We will keep you informed…

However, the story that was deliberately focused just on the current PM, has unleashed an avalanche of criticism from the population. Nobody seemed to recall that the Conservative President of Finland gets all of his big tax free salary, without anywhere near the heavy responsibilities of the PM!

The PM pays normal income tax on her salary and is in charge of running our country. We are just coming out of one of the worst dual economic and health crisis seem for a century and she has done a formidable job.

Finland has one of the best records in managing the Pandemic, with one of the lowest death rates and one of the least worse economic performances. We also have one of the best vaccination rates in the EU. We are also about to complete the reform of Health- and Social Care that should transform our already reasonable healthcare system to be more effective. It has taken several failed tries by former governments… 

The PM has said that she was not aware of any wrongdoing regarding her breakfast costs while in residence. She said that she believed that she was correctly following the instructions provided to her by her top civil servants when she tool office. They confirmed that they had given here such instructions regarding the tax break for her such breakfast costs. They confirmed that such a policy had been in place for years based on their understanding of the legislation. The Tax authorities had never claimed anything to the contrary. 

Immediately after these “stunning” revelations, the PM announced that she will pay all back taxes as demanded by the tax authorities, and stop using this benefit forthwith.

Prime Ministers have a lot on their plate all day, not only at breakfast. It would be a better use of readers’ time to not read about misleading and insignificant silly summer stories like this.

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