Provision for emergency was established as an integral part of Central Government activities

Since 1963 no appropriations had been included the State budget for emergency stockpiling, but in 1970 an appropriation of 2 million FIM was included for purchases of oil. Parliament stated that security stockpiling was fraught with very serious shortcomings and Parliament requested the Government to take action for acquiring sufficient emergency stocks.

Since then regular annual appropriations for emergency stockpiling have been included in the State budget. The best guarantee that improvements were of a permanent character was the Act on Security Stockpiling of Liquid Fuels of 1972.

Clarification of the competence division between different emergency organizations

An important issue during that decade was the division of competences between different emergency organizations. A draft regulation, the so called Regulation of Division of Labour in Economic Emergency Situations was finalized in 1970. This draft regulation and the Emergency Powers Act, on which the draft regulation was based, contained no reference to National Emergency Commanders. Division of competence was established according to traditional practices of the Ministries, i.e. in the same way as during normal times. The National Defence Council confirmed the Division of Competence Regulation in 1973.

A lesson was learned from the oil crisis in 1973

The oil crisis in the autumn of 1973 was instructive in many respects. At that time energy production depended on oil to about 55 %. Preparations to ration supplies of fuels in an emergency situation were found to be rather weak. An important matter was the realization that not even Finland was sheltered from international crises and from their economic impact. However, the energy crisis did not develop into a supply crisis. Nevertheless, the crisis raised oil prices to such a level that an economic recession followed.

At the beginning and in the middle of the 1970s the question of National Emergency Commanders was subject to serious reflection. The result was a committee proposal to abandon the commander system and to put the Ministries’ own Provision for Emergency Directors in the commanders’ place. Those Directors were mainly the Ministries’ Permanent Secretaries. The same committee proposed to concentrate the co-ordination of defence preparations to the Ministry of Defence and to strengthen the position of the National Defence Council. The Ministries’ Provision for Emergency Directors were to operate under the auspices of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence.

The following years were characterized by a big brain trust operating under the auspices of NBED. That brain trust looked for methods and procedures suitable for Finland. The main feature of the new system was the Provision for Emergency Directors, who were appointed from the beginning of 1979. Their task was to ensure provision for emergency within each Ministry’s administrative area.

NBED dealt with matters such as emergency stockpiling, legislation, a reform of its regulations, creation of a planning centre and developing a model for the national economy under emergency conditions.

Experiences are being implemented in practice

In April 1978 analysis was already far advanced. New concepts had been developed. Among them were supply level, i.e. supply in an emergency situation and basic supply level, which represents the absolute minimum from which no reduction is possible. A further concept was the previously known security of supply, which represents provision for emergency calculated in days in respect of a certain commodity. Elements of security of supply are stocks, production, imports and the level of rationing . Security of supply must be determined according to the expected duration of different types of emergency situations.

In 1978 the supply level calculated in this manner was rather bad. Stocks of grain represented only about half of the estimated need. Stocks of imported products and raw materials for metal industry were estimated to suffice for not more than a couple of months, in some respects even less. The supply level of oil products was reasonably good, although disturbances occurred a year later when war broke out between Iran and Iraq.

In 1979 the basic supply level was defined so that under all conditions the population must have food, heating, light, clothes and cleaning. At least the most important enterprises must be able to recover after a crisis, employment must not be intolerably low, in the service sector health care, education, information and transports must function and the State and municipalities must be able to fulfil their legally defined tasks. The basic supply level could be expressed in figures so that energy supplies must amount to about 60 % of demand, foodstuffs must correspond to 90 % of demand and industrial production must be 45 – 60 % of normal level, depending on the branch concerned.

Organizational arrangements crystallize

In the 1970s the idea of establishing a Ministry of National Emergency Supply was abandoned, like the idea of having National Emergency Commanders. The plan was that the Ministry of Trade and Industry should deal with these questions, but that a special Minister for National Emergency Supply should be appointed.

The proposals presented in 1979 by a parliamentary committee for preparing emergency legislation were very similar to thinking in NBED. The committee proposed general framework legislation containing provisions about the scope of application of emergency legislation, public authorities’ powers and about provision for emergency obligations, protection of the population’s basis legal rights, the principles for paying indemnifications and for means of enforcing the law.

NBEDs’ office became a planning agency

A clear sign of reforming NBED was that the Board’s office became a planning agency from 1st February 1981.