Friday July 12, 2024

Benefit cuts for the poor inhuman, tightening immigration suicidal

Published : 01 Jul 2023, 22:49

  From Editor´s Desk
The four-party alliance government took oath on June 20, 2023. Photo: President Office by Matti Porre.

The four-party alliance rightwing government led by the conservative Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) assumed office on June 20 aiming at significant changes in various policies.

The ruling alliance is composed of Kokoomus, the radical rightist Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party), Suomenruotsalainenkansanpuolue (Swedish People’s Party of Finland) and SuomenKristillisdemokraatit (Christian Democrats of Finland).

Before the formal assumption, leaders of the alliance on June 16 announced the programme of the new government that included strict austerity measures and a tight immigration policy.

The government will aim to cut more than €4 billion during its rule.

The cuts include €2.05 billion in social and healthcare services, €1.2 billion in social security and benefits, €149 million in education, €226 million in immigration, development cooperation, defense and security, €519 million in expenses tied to indexing, €78 million in agriculture and forestry, and environment, €228 million in business, transportation, and housing and €276 million in public sector administration.

When the previous government managed the adverse impact of the coronavirus outbreak and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during most of its term without intensifying people’s sufferings, especially the poor, the sudden reverse policies of the new government would negatively impact on the society.

As a welfare state, a smooth and standard healthy life of people should be the most priority issue, not savings as the state is not a profitable business organization.

If budget cuts in key sectors such as social and healthcare, social security and education are painful, harsh and inhuman for people, who will benefit from all this?

The government has also decided to tighten the immigration policy without sensing the need for immigration in such country where the rate of death has been higher than that of birth for long and the growth rate is in the negative without immigration.

According to the program, Finland’s annual refugee quota will be reduced to 500 people from the current 1,050 people. The government will tighten requirements for permanent residency. It notes that Finnish citizenship is not something that would be granted automatically.

The government will change the requirements for obtaining a permanent residence permit. The permit could be obtained based on six years’ residence subject to certain requirements in addition to the current requirements.

The additional requirements are sufficient language skills ascertained in a test, a two-year work history without recourse to unemployment security or social assistance other than for a very short period, and a stricter integrity requirement.

Rejected asylum applicants will be prevented from switching to a work-related immigration procedure. It will be possible to remove a person refused asylum from the country even if they have obtained a job during the asylum process.

The income limit for a residence permit for an employed person will be raised to the sector-specific minimum of the collective agreement, however, to no less than €1,600 per month.

According to the recent statistics, Finland’s population was 5,574,801 at the end of May 2023 and the number of births was 7,409 lower than of deaths in May.

When different countries including Germany are easing the immigration policy, a tight policy taken by the Finnish government where growth rate is minus without immigration will be suicidal and will impact demography negatively.

Moreover, Finnish job market needs work force and it is not possible to fulfill the demand with the local human resources.

As a NATO member state in the era of globalization, it is also important to take moves for more internationalization. To make the country more global, it is very important to encourage international students to arrive in Finland.

Considering the circumstances, the government should reconsider the issues and stop the moves for the welfare of the country and people. The ruling parties should act for globalization, humanity and equity instead of fulfilling their political ill motives.