Finland’s government decided Friday to take in 2,400 refugees following an earlier proposal to increase taxes on the wealthy in order to welcome more refugees fleeing conflict-torn countries like Syria and Nigeria.
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said Friday that Finland will accept the quota of 2,400 refugees proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday. The minister, however, opposed compulsory national quotas and said refugee intake should be on a voluntary basis.
The news comes after Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said Thursday that it wants to increase taxes on high earners by 1 percent while applying a two-year “solidarity tax” on people earning more than US$81,954, Reuters reported.
"These will help to cover higher immigration costs which we estimate to be about 114 million euros this year," Stubb told a news conference.
Meanwhile, the government might also reduce grants for refugees, from US$360 down to US$226. It also wants to reduce funding for refugee integration programs from the housing benefits system, news agency Yli reported.
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Finland is expected to see a 10-fold increase in refugee influx, from 3,600 in 2014 up to 30,000 this year.
The moves come after Prime Minister Juha Sipila said last week he will open the doors of his home to accommodate refugees amid a global outcry over Europe’s unwillingness to receive the hundreds of thousands fleeing war and persecution at home.
The Finnish proposal might prove to be unpopular with the Euroskeptic and anti-immigrant party the Finns, which is part of the coalition government.