During his term as a Minister, Finland went through its worst recession in history. As the Minister of Finance in Prime MinisterEsko Aho's cabinet he led strict budget discipline. He stated that unless budget is cut, Finland can no longer borrow money from foreign countries. Reactions towards his actions caused either strong approval or strong disapproval. Some felt he saved the treasury and some felt he ruined the Finnish welfare.
In 1996 he was elected to the CEO of insurance company Pohjola. At the end of the 1990s he was also member of the board of Nokia, Kone, UPM-Kymmene, YIT, Finnair, and Orion. He served as a vice chairman of Nokia from 1996 to 2000.