The controversy that erupted quickly arose partly by chance. Prime Minister Marin had not understood that Minister Kurvinen would present the cuts jointly agreed by the government to the cultural sector so soon after the Kesäranta musicians’ meeting.
Government the executive five will meet on Friday night to negotiate funding for cultural actors and other Veikkaus beneficiaries. The subject of the negotiations is whether the cuts threatening the beneficiaries next year can still be reversed.
Surprisingly, a public controversy erupted this week, which is also rubbing between government parties. HS goes through what it is all about.
It all started with the Summer Beach party
Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen (Central) held a press conference on Tuesday in which he told cultural actors about the upcoming € 18 million cuts next year. This attracted a lot of attention because of the prime minister Sanna Marin (sd) had met Kurvinen only two days earlier with well-known Finnish musicians at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Kesäranta.
Some of the musicians interpreted that the prime minister took advantage of them by inviting them to celebrate just before the cuts were announced.
Read more: Marin apologized for the turmoil at the Summer Beach event on Instagram
The size of the surgeries has been known since the spring
However, the timing is most obviously a coincidence. The surgeries have been known since the spring.
These are not even cuts in the true sense of the word. The background is the projected decrease in Veikkaus’ gambling revenues, which is due to, among other things, the reduction of slot machines. Gambling revenues have long supported, among other things, culture, sports, science and social and health organizations.
The government fully reimbursed the losses to the beneficiaries for 2020–2021. In the spring framework dispute, the government decided to break its spending framework, ie the agreed spending ceiling, so that in 2022 and 2023, a large part of the reduction in gambling revenues can also be compensated to the beneficiaries. Next year, according to the draft budget, the state will support the beneficiaries with 330 million euros, but it will no longer be enough to compensate for all the losses in gambling revenues.
Because the government informed immediately after the framework debate, that in 2022 funding for arts, sports, youth and science will be reduced by around € 40 million. Of this, art accounts for about 18 million euros. The cuts were agreed by the government parties in the budget proposal agreed by the government in September. Kurvinen presented a more detailed list of cuts to his board partners at the end of September.
Marin wanted Kurvinen not to talk about the surgeries
On Tuesday of this week, the Minister of Science and Culture told the actors in the cultural sector how the cuts already announced will be more precisely distributed within the sector. According to Marin and Kurvinen, the Prime Minister did not hear about the event until Tuesday morning and tried to get Kurvis to cancel it.
In his own words, the Prime Minister did not want cultural actors to be shocked on the cut list. He said the government had still wanted to look for solutions to prevent the cuts.
Kurvinen, on the other hand, felt that he could not cancel the big press conference without a special reason. The reason couldn’t just be that talking about the surgeries would look bad after a party in Kesäranta on Sunday.
Parliament had also requested information from the ministry on the targeting of the cuts, and those involved in the sector needed to be consulted in order to prepare for next year. There were no and no decisions on any additional funding, so Kurvinen could not lull himself into such.
Marin and Kurvinen were not satisfied with each other’s actions.
The government promises extra money, even non-culture want it
On Wednesday and Thursday, the leaders of the various governing parties began to promise all the way to Prime Minister Marinthat the government wants to undo the cultural cuts.
Thursday in Parliament Question Time saw a special situation, when government MPs began challenging the government for cuts.
When the government hinted that the money taps would open, Veikkaus beneficiaries other than cultural actors also announced that they would demand that the cuts be reversed. Exercise and sports would be cut by EUR 12 million, science by EUR 8 million and youth work by EUR 4 million.
In addition, grants to social and health organizations will shrink by around EUR 30 million next year due to declining gambling revenues. Thursday sote organizations insist, that the cuts to them must also be revoked if the cuts in the cultural sector are abandoned.
Where can I find money?
It is therefore still open whether or not the cuts in funding for Veikkaus’ beneficiaries will be reversed next year.
As the Prime Minister has called for the cuts to be lifted, this is likely to happen, at least in part. The Treasury minister Annika Saarikko (middle) however said Thursday, at least he does not promise to cancel all surgeries.
The government hardly wants to cut other spending to find extra money for Veikkaus beneficiaries. Now the government quintet considers whether there is still enough room for maneuver in the already agreed expenditure frameworks that additional money can be granted without compromising the already agreed level of expenditure.
A few tens of millions of euros is not, in principle, a huge amount in the state budget of about 63 billion euros. To the police, the government recently promised 30 million more because the police had demanded additional money and started co-operation negotiations.