Thursday’s papers: Portugese tax dodge, boat export surge, Åland plans, apartment rent ris
Finland’s print media carries a mixed bag of headlines this Thursday, from former business bosses moving to tax-soft Portugal to studio apartment rents rising fast outside Helsinki. Neutral zone Åland is also under scrutiny, and the boat industry, at least, is doing well.
Top tabloid Iltalehti splashes its front page this Thursday with a claim that three Finnish ex-tycoons, all of whom recently moved to live in Portugal, timed their trips well. Not in terms of weather, but in terms of the country’s lax tax policies.
The three ex-bosses – of megacompanies Kesko, Rautaruukki and Nokia – moved to Portugal recently, as reported by Helsingin Sanomat yesterday. This is no accident, Iltalehti writes, as Finland’s deal with Portugal from 1970 means that pension taxation there is ideal for top earners as there is no tax on pensions whatsoever. Tax law professor Marjaana Helminen tells the paper that although the bosses’ move may seem like untoward tax planning, the real issue is with Finnish law. The Portugese agreement costs Finland dozens of millions a year.
“In terms of taxation, this situation should clearly be altered,” she says, and refers to the OECD’s ongoing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, which is sure to change practices of taxation in a year’s time.
Åland chip in foreign policy, rents rise in capital periphery
Tampere paper Aamulehti runs a front page story on the island of Åland, which belongs to Finland but is neutral in terms of international law. Neither the USSR nor modern Russia have ever acknowledged the island’s neutrality, which researchers in the Aamulehti piece say may lead to a hypothetical risk in a time of crisis.
“The current government has the opportunity now to begin talks on Russia acknowledging Åland to be neutral,” says the island’s provincial head Camilla Gunell.
Meanwhile Finns Party defense minister Jussi Niinistö tells Aamulehti that trust in international justice is well-founded, but not foolproof, and that Russian military personnel bearing no recognisable insignia – so-called “green men” – could technically take over Åland, which “in the wrong hands” could be “like a pistol pointed at Sweden”.
On the mainland, specifically in outlying districts of the greater Helsinki area, the rents of sought-after studio apartments are climbing faster than they are in the inner city, says Helsingin Sanomat. Many now search for flats outside of the centre in hopes of lower rents, but in reality that is exactly where the hikes are most dramatic.
“The capital region has about 30 active apartment-seekers per apartment,” says Juha Heino from rent organisation VVO. He recommends that especially students on low incomes consider shared accommodation.
Exports to save boating industry
In better news, financial paper Kauppalehti runs a main story on Finnish boat manufacturers, who report that sales abroad are seeing double-digit percentage hikes. Sales overall have grown by three percent, which may not sound like much but is more than the industry has seen in seven lean years.
“Our factory produces about five boats a day, and our order load even has us postponing vacations to get them done,” says Raimo Sonninen of the Bella boat manufacturing cocnern in Kuopio.
“The autumn looks good,” many in the Kauppalehti piece say, banking on the export boom to continue and drive a real uptick in the Finnish boat business.