Media Monitoring Group of Finland [1]: The media should fact-check if “Kela money” is a PS fabrication

by , under Enrique Tessieri


On Thursday’s question-and-answer session of parliament, Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Mari Rantanen, who is a former police officer and usually denigrates migrants, claimed that “practically all people from developing countries” that come to Finland pay a threshold fee.

According to a story in Iltalehti, “about 400 people” are “marked or suspected” of involvement in the scheme, according to the Helsinki Police Department.

About 400 people are far from “practically all people from developing countries.”

In 2022,  46,641 Ukrainian were granted temporary protection, and 4,022 sought asylum (excluding Ukrainians), according to the Finnish Immigration Service.

Certainly, Rantanen did no cite the police source, and neither did she elaborate on how she arrived at such an absolute number of people from developing countries.

“According to the police,” she said, “practically all people from developing countries have to pay a threshold fee [to come to Finland], usually to a compatriot already in the country, for a work contract or to come here in general. The average cost of such a residence permit in Finland is €15,000, and there are indications that the threshold money is linked to access to Finnish social security.”

She added by stating that “in one case,” a person paid with the social benefits from Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. The police told Rantanen that the arrangement is called “Kela money.”

PS MP Mari Rantanen. Source: Eduskunta.

Who knows, it may well be that “practically all people from developing countries” are guilty of involvement in the “Kela money” scheme.

Then again, this may be an over-exaggeration by a politician and party that profits from spreading misinformation and lies about migrants. The best way to find out is to get in touch with the police and ask them directly if they have an official statement about such a scheme.

The police have not replied to my email.

How many Finnish newspapers are doing the same as Iltalehti and Migrant Tales to confirm if MP Rantanen is pulling a fast one?

On many occasions, politicians with clear agendas make incredulous statements, which spread but are denied later. Even if what the PS MP said were fake or exaggerated, it does not matter to her because the false information has already spread among the party’s voters and supporters.

Moreover, if the police feed this type of unofficial information to politicians, which they exaggerate, it shows again the toxic role that the police can play in fueling xenophobia.

[1] Media Monitoring Group of Finland aims to promote fair and accurate reporting by the Finnish media of underrepresented cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious groups. As Finland’s cultural diversity continues to grow, the role of the media in forming public opinion and attitudes about minorities becomes even more relevant.

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