In Finland, the government is keen to promote digital business and new business models. To this end, free traffic service in the archipelago is said to prevent commercial producers of transportation services to gain entry into the market and impairs the possibility of developing a free traffic service market in the area, said the Finnish Ministry of Communication in a memorandum yesterday.
This is causing much agitation among the islanders in Finland.
The draft regulation proposes that a reasonable fee should be charged for traffic and transport services that government partly subsidies. There would be no exceptions for the residents of these islands.
Finnish newspaper Åbo Underättelser (covering the Turku area embracing the largest archipelago of Finland) says this is a severe discrimination of the 500 residents: The government has no idea what it is doing. They use the islanders as guinea pigs. This is not only wrong, it is a direct affront to our archipelago, one of the most vulnerable areas in the nation right now. Toll service boats is the government’s way of saying that it is too expensive to serve people living in uncomfortable places in the country.
As ESIN board member Pia Prost stated in her recent article in Skärgård magazine, there are all in all 4.300 residents on about 250 islands without fixed links in Finland’s archipelagoes, out of totally 22.000 islands.
The editorial titled “An insult to the archipelago”can be read here (in Swedish) http://www.abounderrattelser.fi/news/2016/11/en-skymf-mot-skargarden.html
As a reaction to these changes in the existing ferry fares system, ESIN chairman has written a “Letter of Concern” to Finnish Minister of Communication Anne Berner (attached).