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What is the direction the Government Programme gives the National Land Survey?

The Government Programme was published on 16 June. We read the Programme from our perspective in society: What kind of changes will the Government Programme, “A strong and committed Finland,” impose on the National Land Survey, and how will its policies guide the demand for our services?

Pasi Patrikainen

The first impression of the guidelines on the National Land Survey’s role and activities are linked to enhancing productivity through digitalisation and facilities, taxation, land use and redemption, as well as research and data store security. For instance, changes in property taxes and the redemption act will have both direct and indirect impact on our operations. Increased research funding and development into research infrastructures are very positive developments for us, as they enable continuity for high-quality research at National Land Survey as well as at other research organisations. Various infrastructure projects will add to the National Land Survey’s field work. Cooperation between authorities on developing customer services will incur additional work for us and require financial investment.

Productivity growth at the core

The Government is implementing a Government Productivity Programme that will support the Government's economic sustainability targets.

Balancing the economy plays a key role in this government programme. It is seeking enhancements to government operations and productivity programmes for every branch of government, which include making use of digitalisation and better use of facilities.

We have been seeking growth in and monitoring our productivity for more than a decade. During that time, the productivity of our work, and our overall performance, have grown by 3–4% per year. We currently aim to have 1.5% development in annual productivity.

Promotion of digital services with our customers and partners is given an additional boost by the policies in the Government Programme. According to the programme, digital services will be the primary channel for any customer for whom it is possible. Automated decision-making would enhance and speed up our customer service. Development of digitalisation does, however, require significant financial investment into system development.

The National Land Survey is a pioneer in migrating to shared Government facilities. We have branches in 36 towns around Finland. Shared offices are already used in six towns, and two new ones will be completed this year. This is work that will last for more than a decade, with new projects starting everywhere in Finland. Through shared office branches, we can enhance our customer service process and be able to provide other customer services, such as Tax Administration services, from the same location.

Regional differences in land to be taken into account in the property tax reform

The Government will implement a property tax reform, which will correct the disconnect between taxable values and real values of properties.

Regarding the property tax reform, the role of the National Land Survey is responsibility for the land valuation system renewal in order to account for regional land price differences in property taxation. With the new approach, the National Land Survey will provide the information for the Tax Authority in which price range a property belongs to, and the Tax Authority uses the land data to calculate the property tax. Data exchanges between authorities will facilitate and ensure fair property taxation.

Reimbursement reform in the Redemption Act 

The bases for reimbursement in the Redemption Act will receive a reform through stronger property rights – enhanced by raising the reimbursement for power line redemption.

There has been a rising public debate regarding reimbursement for the redemption around power lines. The National Land Survey will act as the neutral authority between the redeemer and land owner, i.e. the power company and the private land owner of a planned power line, along with municipal trusted persons. The redemption sums are strictly defined in the law. If the reimbursement rules are changed, the reimbursement sums, which are set by reimbursement committees, will also change, but at the moment, it is difficult to estimate the extent.
Emphasis on data store security

The Government will determine and identify the critical data stores, services and systems that are significant in society and ensure their reliability and security.

The National Land Survey maintains key information on locations as well as properties and apartments, and the ownership thereof, in its registers. The National Land Survey emphasises safe data retention and data services. Open sharing of location data, in the changed operating environment, must also be re-evaluated at the National Land Survey.

Boost in research infrastructure funding

The Government commits to the national target of boosting Finland’s research and development expenses to four percent of the GDP by 2030. – Research infrastructure funding will receive a boost from the boost in research funding.

We are pleased with the research funding policies. The National Land Survey’s Geospatial Research Institute operates several internationally significant research infrastructures such as the Metsähovi geodetic research station which collects extended time samples of the Earth’s crust movements and locations with the greatest possible accuracy, and the FinnRef network which provides observation data to improve the precision of satellite location. 

The National Land Survey is a significant party in collecting and maintaining location data. Requirements on location data accuracy continue to grow, which requires the implementation of new technology and the maintenance of competence.

The Government Programme, as a whole, includes many policies that have either a direct or an indirect effect on the National Land Survey's operations during this Government. Many of the policies include legislative changes, of which details will be known in time, along with their true impact on our operations.

Pasi Patrikainen

The author is the Director-General of the National Land Survey of Finland.

In the National Land Survey of Finland blog, different authors discuss various matters topical to the National Land Survey of Finland.