Mika Lintilä (Centre), the Minister of Economic Affairs, has delivered a series of optimistic forecasts for the national economy.
Lintilä predicts, for example, that the government budget could be in balance as soon as next year. “I wouldn’t fall back on my backside in surprise if the balance sheet showed a zero for 2019,” he said in his characteristic, folksy fashion while speaking to journalists at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Wednesday.
No other cabinet member has expressed such optimistic views of the economic outlook. The Ministry of Finance has forecast that the government budget will have a deficit of three billion euros in 2018 and estimated that public finances could in balance in the early 2020s.
Lintilä’s track record with bold predictions, however, is impressive.
He raised eyebrows immediately after assuming his current duties by declaring that the national economy would grow faster than forecast in 2017. The Ministry of Finance was at the time forecasting that the national economy would expand by 0.9 per cent in 2017 and by 1.0 per cent in 2018.
“I’m personally confident that economic growth will be stronger and that’s the goal we’ll work towards,” he said after succeeding Olli Rehn (Centre) as the Minister of Economic Affairs in December, 2016.
Lintilä on Wednesday also voiced his disagreement with the assessment of an independent economic policy council that the likelihood of the employment rate rising to the targeted level of 72 per cent by the end of next year is nearly non-existent.
“I’d say it’s fifty-sixty,” he said, quoting the legendary ski-jumper Matti Nykänen. “If I as a horse punter had to put my money on something, I’d say we’ll get to 72 in 2019.”