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MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki 19.4.2007Budget Department / Markus Sovala1 Pricing public information in Finland Markus Sovala Deputy Head of Budget.

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Presentation on theme: "MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki 19.4.2007Budget Department / Markus Sovala1 Pricing public information in Finland Markus Sovala Deputy Head of Budget."— Presentation transcript:

1 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala1 Pricing public information in Finland Markus Sovala Deputy Head of Budget Department Ministry of Finance

2 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala2 Structure of relevant principles Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information Act on Openness of Government Activities (entered into force December 1, 1999) amended 2005 to implement the Directive defines that basic information is free, but public authorities have a (restricted) right to charge cost caused by processing and delivering information, lists cases when charges are not applicable (oral info, documents read in government offices etc.) covers both the State and municipal authorities Act on Criteria for Charges Payable to the State applicable also when Government is providing information charges are based on (average) cost if the public authority is not operating in a competitive environment

3 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala3 Act on the Openness of Government Activities The authorities whose documents are governed by the Act include for example: State administrative authorities and other State agencies and institutions, courts of law as well as municipal authorities. The Act also applies to State enterprises, such as the Forest Administration and the Civil Aviation Administration. In addition, the Act is applied to documents in the possession of private parties performing public tasks and exercising public authority. These include for example work pension institutions, a forest ranger and insurance companies in matters relating to statutory insurance.

4 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala4 Act on the Openness of Government Activities (cont.) The Act applies to both documents delivered to an authority and those prepared by an authority. Certain documents of minor importance relating to internal activities of an authority are excluded from the scope of application of the Act. A document means not only traditional documents on paper but also electronic messages stored by means of automatic data processing as well as microfilmed documents. The right to have access to information: The starting point is openness. Access to a document is the main principle and secrecy is an exception. Access may thus not be restricted without a lawful reason or more than necessary for the interest being protected. The right of a party to access is more extensive than that of others. A party, or the person whose interest or right is concerned, has a right of access to official documents that may have influenced the consideration of his/her matter.

5 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala5 Act on the Openness of Government Activities (cont.) Basic information is free, but public authorities have a (restricted) right to charge cost caused by processing and delivering information. Act lists cases when charges are not applicable (oral info, documents read in government offices etc.). If charges are applicable, these are based on costs. Details are given in Act on Criteria for Charges Payable to the State and in Local Government Act.

6 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala6 Act on Criteria for Charges Payable to the State The size of the charge made by the State for a performance under public law shall correspond to the total costs incurred from producing the performance (cost price). Performance under public law means a performance by a State authority which is called for by an act or decree and on the production of which the authority has a de facto monopoly. A charge of the same size can be made for similar performances even when the costs of producing the performance differ. When the size of such a fixed charge is set, the average total cost of the performances must be taken into account. The charge set can as a general rule be lower or higher than the cost price or can be waived completely if there is justifiable cause. When a charge is made for a performance, the same charge shall also be collected from State authorities unless there is special cause for some other procedure.

7 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala7 Act on Criteria for Charges Payable to the State (cont.) The prices of official performances other than those referred above shall be decided on commercial criteria. An appropriation can be included in the State budget for use in reducing the prices of performances priced on commercial criteria. If an authority has a de facto monopoly on the production of a performance, the price charged for the performance can also be set so as to correspond to the performance’s cost price. If an authority produces performances in a dominant market standing, the pricing of the performances shall take into account the provisions on abuse of dominant market standing in the Act on Restrictive Practices (480/1992).

8 MINISTRY OF FINANCE, FINLAND Helsinki Budget Department / Markus Sovala8 Topics to be discussed Basic legal framework seems to be in order. Possible criticism may arise from: legislation is enforced inefficiently and operation of different authorities may differ – are there any signs of that? deviation from cost principle is an implicit subsidy – are there any good justifications for hidden subsidies? Should the government be more active in promoting the use of public information archives? A lot has been done since 1980s (weather info, use of Population Register, Car Register, geographical information etc.) If further steps need subsidies (i.e. non-cost pricing for information processing), this should be done openly and should show the cost of government action – all proposals should compete against other possible industrial policy actions.


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