Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has urged people to participate in a blanket ban of handing out money to Roma beggars on the street.
Vanhanen said that this was the simplest and most effective means of addressing the issue concerning the recent wave of beggars arriving in Finland, predominantly from Bulgaria and Romania.
“It would not take many weeks, and this phenomenon would end in Finland. This would require a decision by everyone not to give money,” said the Prime Minister, who was speaking to political journalists at a lunch to discuss the issue. Prolific begging first began to appear in Finland around two years ago, reports Helsingin Sanomat.
The National Coalition Party’s Juha Hakola has already proposed a parliamentary bill to use a public order ban to stop panhandling. The document has so far been signed by 51 of the 200-member Finnish parliament. Vanhanen, however, is making no promises of swift legislation change, citing that the definition of begging itself is difficult.
“In Finland, thousands and thousands of associations beg for money; parents’ committees beg for money, and political parties beg for money. The entire civic society is based on begging for money,” Vanhanen claimed. “Where do we draw the line? Is it when someone wearing a pinstripe suit asks for donations for a hockey team, or is it someone dressed like a beggar asking for money from ordinary people?”
Vanhanen, who stated that evidence to suggest that street panhandling could be influenced by organised crime made the offence even more repulsive, said the best solution would be for to improve home conditions for the Roma.