The Reform Party has put forward their new candidate for the position of the finance minister to replace Jürgen Ligi, who resigned on Saturday following a Facebook rant last week at Minister of Education Jevgeni Ossinovski. The position will be filled by the financial analyst Maris Lauri, currently the economic adviser to Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
"The first things I will have to do as a Finance Minister are the to see that the 2015 budget passes the readings at the Parliament, take the necessary steps to make sure that the EU structural funds are deployed as soon as possible, and bring in regulations for payday loans," Lauri said.
She added that the finance ministers of the EU member states will meet next week in Brussels, so she does not have much time to settle in but has to tackle the job head-on.
Lauri is known to the Estonian public as a the head economist of Swedbank. She has been working as the adviser for the Prime Minister since last spring and as such has been involved in the budgeting process. She has previously also worked for the Bank of Estonia and lectured at the universities.
Lauri is the member of Enterprise Estonia and the head of its internal audit unit. She holds a MSc in Economics from the University of Tartu.
Lauri joined the Reform Party last week but announced her decision only on Monday, saying that she wishes to run for the parliament as it needs to include more specialists.
Lauri was chosen over several other potential candidates, including previous Finance Minister Aivar Sõerd, but the Prime Minister said the decision was consensual.
"In a situation where the new finance minister won't have time to settle in, it has to be someone who is already at home in the field. As the head economist of Swedbank, Lauri has exceptional inside knowledge of the area and for the past seven months as my economic adviser, she has gained first hand experience in the processes of state financing," Rõivas said.
Lauri said she has more private sector experience that previous minister Jürgen Ligi and she will be much more subtle in her manners. But her financial principles are much the same as her predecessor's - a balanced state budget, reduction of the tax burden and a simple taxation system.
Lauri's candidacy has been welcomed by other parliamentary parties, who hold her in high regard as an economic specialist.
Jüri Ratas of the Center Party faction said that Lauri's experience in the private sector is a good asset. "I think that a candidate who comes from outside the circle of politicians and politics, who has previously been an analyst in the private sector and is now working for the Prime Minister, can bring new outlooks to the state financing as well," he said.
IRL's Urmas Reinsalu said Lauri was a logical choice for the Reform Party. "I think it was reasonable, considering the tensions they have, to bring in a specialist instead of another politician and Maris Lauri is no doubt an eligible person," he said, adding that the opposition will not work against her.
If the president approves Lauri's candidacy for the position, the current government will have six female ministers in office. This would be a new record for Estonia.