EK’s Exit Group: Finland needs a road map for reopening society

According to EK's Exit Group, led by Mikko Helander, President and CEO of Kesko, Finland needs a road map that will enable the country to pull away from the extraordinary circumstances caused by the coronavirus crisis and begin reconstruction. It is essential to quickly bring the epidemic under control and to safely reopen the economy. With the proposals of EK's Exit Group, the business community wants to offer its support to the Finnish Government so that it can lead the country out of the coronavirus crisis.

According to Mikko Helander, Chairman of EK’s Exit Group, Deputy Chairman of EK’s Board and Kesko’s President and CEO, it is vital to ensure the safe return to work, consumption and movement starting in the summer. This would enable the Finnish economy to return to a growth track later this year. This is necessary in order for the country to avoid large-scale job losses and a deterioration of the welfare state’s services and a decline in its income transfers.

“A roadmap for reopening society is essential. With the efforts of EK’s Exit Group, the business community wants to support the Government in implementing the roadmap. A safe and responsible re-starting of the economy is the best support policy for businesses. A strategy to control the epidemic will ensure the population’s health and safety and economic recovery. It will enable us to prevent the prolonging of social and societal problems,” says Helander.  

The business community wants to support the Finnish Government with measures that will assist the safe reopening and reconstruction of society. In addition, Jyri Häkämies, EK’s Director General, says that EK’s Exit Group hopes that the Government will promote economic growth.

“Large-scale partnership and cooperation between the state and the business community is vital in order to overcome the crisis with the least possible damage. We now need trust and safe practices to open up society,” says Häkämies.  

Effective control of the epidemic is a way to make it to the vaccination phase

The proposals of EK’s Exit Group, which consists of experienced leaders from the business community, are based on comparative data on disease control measures applied in other countries and on economic models. Data sources include the THL, Etla, the Bank of Finland, the Ministry of Finance and the IMF. The work has been supported by a group of analysts from consulting firm McKinsey.

EK’s Exit Group recommends the following strategy for Finland to manage the epidemic:

  • Control the disease through restrictions, testing, and contact tracing.
  • Minimise the risk of infection at work, in consumption and in movement with the help of new practices and methods.
  • Support companies to help the survive the acute phase of the crisis and to avoid bankruptcies of viable companies.
  • Remove restrictions in a controlled way and support the restarting of the economy and society.
  • Ensure that Finland is among the first countries to receive sufficient doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

By doing so, Finland can be reopened according to the following phasing.

Measures proposed for companies and what is expected of the state

It is essential to start on a path to a normal life together. Urgent action is needed. The report of EK’s Exit Group includes suggestions on where the state’s help is needed and what the business community will promote.

Needed immediately to control the epidemic:

  • Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE): up to 6 million masks / day
  • Testing capacity: 12,000 tests / day
  • Contact tracing: 1,300 – 1,800 contact tracers (possible digital application to support tracing)
  • Safe practices that minimise infections (including safe work, consumption and movement)
  • A clear roadmap for removing restrictions

Measures proposed for the business community:

  • Bringing expertise to cooperation projects with the state (e.g. PPE, testing)
  • Implementing measures for safe work and doing business under the leadership of selected companies
  • Contributing to the cost of testing and tracing employees
  • Appointment of executive management to ensure implementation of the proposed actions and rapid introduction of new ideas

Measures proposed for the state:

  • Implementation of management strategy enablers Cooperation with the private sector if this is necessary to achieve objectives
  • Targeted support for viable companies that do not turn layoffs into redundancies
  • Extension of the accelerated co-determination procedure to the end of 2020
  • Changes to taxation to support purchasing power

EK’s Exit Group has been led by Mikko Helander. Its membership has included six other high-level business leaders: Kari Jussi Aho / owner-entrepreneur / Aho Group, Henrik Ehrnrooth / CEO / Kone Corporation, Annu Nieminen / CEO, founder / Upright, Leena Niemistö, Board professional, business angel, Timo Ritakallio / President and Group CEO / OP Financial Group, and Antti Vasara / President and CEO / VTT.

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