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Fri, 17 Jan, 2014 04:12:00 AM
Minister claims reforms will not hamper citizen safety
FTimes-STT Report, January 17
 
File picture of Rescue Department activities. Photo – Lehtikuva.
The government has decided to reduce the number of the country’s Rescue Unit to 11 from the existing 22 by the year 2016 as a part of its reforms programme with the view to cutting expenditure to face the existing financial crisis.
 
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen claimed that the ongoing reforms of the rescue departments would not compromise the safety of citizens.
 
The last time similar reforms took place in the department was in 2004 in which 400 local rescue departments were amalgamated to form 22 regional rescue units covering the whole country.
 
File picture of Helsinki City Rescue Department officials on duty at Herttoniemi Hospital in Helsinki. Photo – Lehtikuva.
The current government’s structural reform policies aim to further reduce the current 22 regional departments to 11 by the year 2016, official sources said.
 
These reforms, according to the minister, will not constrict fire station networks across the country.
 
Likewise, these measures will not cut down the number of personnel working in the rescue departments but will help municipalities to save in other ways.
 
The rescue departments employ a total of 4,800 people on permanent terms and 14,600 people in contract basis around the country.
 
File picture of the Interior Minister, Päivi Räsänen. Photo – Lehtikuva.
The six-party alliance government on November 29 announced the structural reforms package with a view to saving up to €7.5m annually in administrative costs.
 
The government expressed hopes that the tight structural reforms package – prepared by reducing allocations for the elderly services and regional library networks, and hiking childcare fees – would help the country face the tough economic situation.
 
The reforms, including issues like work leave, will continue along with reforms in the labour market organisations and the measures will lead to more strict terms and conditions.
 
File picture of Rescue Helicopter. Photo – Lehtikuva.
On December 13, the structural reforms package was adopted by the parliament amid protest by the opposition lawmakers. The proposal won the confidence of the House when 102 lawmakers cast votes in favour of it while 70 voted against, parliament sources said.
 
The treasury bench voted uniformly supporting the proposal, but the opposition lawmakers expressed no confidence.
 
The lawmakers of Suomen Kesksusta (centre party) and Perussuomalaiset (finns party) observed that they did not believe that the country's economy could be brought to good shapes by the tabled measures.
 
 
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