Helsinki (10.11.2000 - Juhani Artto) Archbishop Jukka Paarma and SAK President Lauri Ihalainen have made a historic appeal to policymakers and all influential people in Finland. They are calling for Finland to increase its development co-operation expenditure to 0.7 per cent of GNP, in line with UN recommendations.
Archbishop Paarma is the leader of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland. Some 85 per cent of Finland's population belong to this denomination. With member organisations representing 1.1 million workers SAK, led by Mr. Ihalainen, is the largest trade union confederation in Finland.
Although Finland achieved the 0.7 per cent level in 1991, development co-operation aid suffered worse than any other item in the Finnish State budget during the recession of the early 1990s. The level of aid slumped to well below 0.4 per cent of GNP. Since then the nominal sum has risen, but the proportion has stayed at around 0.34 per cent. In its draft budget for 2001 the government has even reduced this still further to 0,335 per cent, despite the fact that this is already the seventh consecutive year of sustained economic growth.