Education Minister Jaak Aaviksoo said he is unclear on where a 14 percent budget cut requested by Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi could come from.
Speaking on an ETV program last night, Aaviksoo said a "thin country" cannot be made even leaner. "As soon as we start looking into it, we see we have no teachers, no police officers, military, doctors, social welfare and cultural workers [to cut]."
Jürgen Ligi, the finance minister, countered that in terms of expenditure, Estonia spends much more on education - 6.4 percent of its GDP goes to education compared to Latvia's 4 percent. Only Denmark and Sweden spend more, Ligi said. He took issue with Social Democrat Jevgeni Ossinovski's argument that per-student spending was too low.
Ligi also argued that the declining population did not justify an "expanding" civil service. "Under no circumstance should the state apparatus be a burden for the private sector, which creates the primary value added," Ligi said.
As reported, with negotiations on the next state budget getting under way, the Finance Ministry warned agencies and other ministries that they would have to steel themselves for cuts.