By Jussi Rosendahl
TURKU, Finland (Reuters)
The Finnish parliament will not be able to vote on the government’s major health care and local government bill until August at the earliest, parliament’s speaker said on Saturday
The troubled reform package, a key measure in the Nordic euro member country’s bid to balance public finances, faced new challenges earlier this month when parliament’s constitutional law committee said the draft bill breached the constitution.
Speaker of Parliament Paula Risikko said the required changes to the bill as well as parliament holidays would postpone the vote by several weeks.
“The parliament committees will take all the time they need (to make the amendments), we need quality… I’d say the vote could take place in August or September,” she told Reuters in the sidelines of her conservative NCP party congress. The government had hoped to have the vote in June.
The package, which has been in the works for over a decade, is expected to save three billion euros ($3.5 billion) in future annual spending
In addition to legal problems, the reform has lately faced renewed criticism from some NCP lawmakers and it remains unclear whether the government has enough support for the reform when it comes to a parliament vote.
The three parties that belong to the center-right government have in total 105 of 200 seats.
The reform aims to boost competition between public and private healthcare providers by opening up more opportunities for the private sector. It is also due to shift responsibility for the provision of services from local governments to new counties.
Some politicians fear the new counties mean that the rural regions will take on too much power from the big cities, while others object to the private sector being given a greater role.
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(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Stephen Powell)