Second Vice President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas, who will be challenging the opposition Center Party's longtime leader Edgar Savisaar for chairmanship of the party at its Nov. 5 party congress, spoke up in favor of regional tax differences during a meeting with party members and supporters in Southeastern Estonian city of Võru on Saturday.
"To balance off the regional development of Estonia, additional investments have to be made and a boost given to job creation in smaller towns and villages as well," party spokespeople quoted Ratas as saying. "For this, regional and sectoral differences must be introduced in tax policy and special national programs must be implemented."
Ratas found that it should not be acceptable that the most recent government coalitions have not prioritized regional policy and the ensuring of a balanced development of the country. "I am resolutely standing up against the laissez-faire attitude which considers the marginalization of rural areas as an inevitable development which cannot be controlled," said the MP, noting that national leaders could not sit back, see the decline in population sizes across all countries and speed it up even further by cutting down state structures step by step.
"Cosmetic tax changes will not advance life in Estonia," said Ratas. "The decision of the government coalition to lower social tax by 0.5 percent beginning in 2017 is marginal for the business environment, while taking tens of millions of necessary euros away from the state budget."
An extraordinary congress, where the country's largest opposition party will be voting for its chairman, is scheduled to take place in the Central Estonian town of Paide on Nov. 5. Candidates for the party's top spot so far include Ratas, longtime incumbent Edgar Savisaar as well as MEP Yana Toom.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla