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Pasi Moisio: The most important task of the Social Security Committee

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 7.5.2020 11.13
Column
Kuvassa Pasi Moisio

The Social Security Committee has started its first and perhaps most important task: defining the problems to be solved by the social security reform.

During May, we will gather Committee members’ views on which key problems of social security should be solved in the short or long term. The survey will serve as a basis and a starting point for determining which problems of the social security system the Committee seeks to solve. The search for consensus will begin at the next meeting of the Committee in June.

Why is it so important to reach an agreement on the problems to be solved when beginning the Committee's work? Firstly, the Committee's task is to carry out a structural and functional reform of social security, which requires gradual implementation extending  over several government terms. The Committee must reach a sufficient consensus among the parliamentary parties so that we can count on the reform to proceed also during the next parliamentary term.

Secondly, in order to reform anything in general, we must have a common understanding of what we are going to reform and why.  The Committee must first reach an adequate consensus on the problems of the Finnish social security.  Only then can the Committee’s divisions and experts present/propose/describe exactly what should be added, removed or amended in the current social security system in order to solve each problem. Often the causes of the problems are diverse and, in their background there are even other reasons than those connected with social security, such as factors related to the functioning of the labour and housing market.

Defining the problems of the social security system is not a technical operation, because there is no “correct” social security system. Research can, of course, be used to find evidence of whether one way of arranging social security is better than the other – based on a specific criterion or objective. However, the social security system has several objectives and we often have to prioritise these objectives on a value-based basis, for example between employment and non-discrimination.

The problems to be solved must also be precisely defined because the definition of the problem guides the search for solutions. A well-defined problem serves as a guideline for the countless choices to be made in law drafting. As we know, the details of legislation can also create real reforming effects.

It is therefore of paramount importance that the Committee members representing the parliamentary parties define the problems of social security and find an adequate consensus on which problems need to be solved. The Committee's work must be based on such political and social issues related to social security on the basis of which the Members of Parliament and their parties have come to power through democratic elections. During election campaigns and in social debate, social security is not discussed as a mass of technical problems, but as political and social issues. Likewise, the work of the parliamentary Social Security Committee must be based on the problems of social security as they occur in the political and social debate. 

Pasi Moisio, chair of the Social Security Committee