Big national projects take years, often decades, to execute

I have acted for over 40 years and continue to act as a financial advisor on big infrastructure projects involving energy production and transmission and energy efficiency projects, tunnels, roads, airports, harbors, public transport, hospitals, waste and water projects, or other large public and private investment projects.

There are 2 common denominators to these projects – they take 3 to 7 years to be planned and built and in many cases the delays are measured in years, from 3 to 10 years bond the original planned time.

So when a politician claims that they will implement a major national infrastructure project within 1 electoral period, you can be pretty sure that this will not happen.

We currently have 2 major projects announced from the present government – the social and health care reform projects and the road/rail transport project. Both involve, amongst other matters, complex new legislation, changes in national taxation, asset valuations and asset transfers, massive staff transfers and huge changes in pension liability transfers.

Finland is in the midst of its worst economic performance with record high unemployment, poor export results, and weak consumer spending. Austerity measures across the board have made sharp cutbacks in all sectors of the economy causing further pain. The trade unions, the employer’s unions and political parties are in fighting mode. There is a distinct lack of consensus as neo-liberals and their opposition hack away at one another, thus further weakening confidence building. The government may be forced to implement further austerity measures if the forecasted recovery does not happen. This will not be welcomed by the trade unions.

I am not optimistic about getting these reforms in place on time and within budget. Even in a good economic climate these reforms would be challenging to implement.