Lyly and Vapaavuori: Regional government reform should be scrapped

An installation was being constructed in downtown Helsinki ahead of Helsinki Design Week on 7 September, 2017.Cities are a key source of creativity and growth, according to the mayors of the largest cities in Finland.

Lauri Lyly (SDP), the Mayor of Tampere, and Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Mayor of Helsinki, have urged the government to proceed with the social and health care reform but abandon the regional government reform - writes

“We are unsure if the regional government reform would even be in the best interests of small municipalities,” they argue in a guest contribution published in Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday .

Lyly and Vapaavuori estimate that the social, health care and regional government reform is unnecessary for the largest cities in Finland. Tampere, they highlight, has a larger population than 12 of the 18 counties to be established in the reform to take over a number of responsibilities from municipalities.

“The reform would alleviate the investment needs of cities hardly at all but would restrict their investment capacity: municipal tax revenues would shrink to a third, while the debt burden would stay unchanged,” they write.

“We should be improving the capabilities of cities. The regional government reform, however, would limit the tools available to cities.”

Their assessment was shot down almost immediately by the Centre Party.

Katri Kulmuni, one of the deputy chairpersons of the party, argued in a press release that the regional government reform is a means to guarantee the equal availability of services and a more balanced development of regions all across the country.

“The social, health care and regional government reform will simplify the administrative system of Finland and reduce bureaucracy,” she stated.

The Centre Party has been the most vocal advocate of the much-discussed regional government reform. The reform is currently scheduled for implementation as of the beginning of 2020.

Lyly estimated last month that the reform proposal fails to take into account the global megatrend of urbanisation and the role of large cities as the drivers of growth in Finland.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva

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