Hardly anyone in Finland likes the impending increase in fuel taxes, which will greatly raise the prices of gasoline and diesel from next Saturday.
The measure, which was agreed by the Government in its budget negotiation in autumn 2019, will take effect on 1 August and will increase gasoline and diesel costs from 6 to 7 cents per liter.
In Finland many doubt that the time is right for a fuel tax raise. Between its approval and its entry into force, many months have passed in which the world has been shaken by an unexpected pandemic that has caused a recession and destroyed tens of thousands of jobs.
The tax increase, conceived for times of economic tranquility, is being implemented when there are more uncertainties than guarantees about the economy's future. Hence, the debate about its suitability has been a trending topic throughout the day. The issue has received strong rejections, such as that of the main association of Finnish motorists.
The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (Autoliitto), which claims to be the only nationwide association for private motoring in the country, issued a harsh statement warning of the damage this measure may cause to thousands of workers and their families.
Toughest tax hike this millennium
Autoliitto criticizes that this moment has been chosen to apply what they called the toughest tax hike of this millennium.
According to the association, raising the fuel taxes is a decision that "always hits working people particularly," as the car is often the only realistic means of transport they have to work. And among them, the poorest suffer especially: "People who cannot afford to buy cars using the latest and lowest-emission technology are specifically hard hit by the tax increase," the organization adds.
The motorists association recalls that this year, due to the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, private cars have been the most "justified and necessary" means of transport for Finns. In fact, at the peak moments of confinement and teleworking, the Finnish authorities recommended to use cars for unavoidable journeys. At the same time, frequencies of public buses and trains were reduced.
"Cars keep economy afloat"
Furthermore, Autoliitto's CEO Pasi Nieminen also mentioned the benefits of car use for the entire economy:
"This year domestic tourism is almost entirely dependent on cars. It is not consistent and sensible to tighten taxation in this situation in the mode of transport that directly and indirectly keeps the Finnish economy afloat and Finns in motion," he said.
According to the association's calculations, the fuel tax hike will increase the transport bill by some 100 euros for motorists who drive about 20,000 kilometers per year.