Opposition MP Weighs In on Budget Debate
Despite negotiations over next year's budget being only a week old, the head of the Center Party's parliamentary faction, Kadri Simson, has already attacked the coalition on the subject.
“This kind of strategy [of a balanced budget] may win a 100 meter sprint, but not a marathon,” Simson told uudised.err.ee today.
The Ministry of Finance has forecast a 0.2 percent budget deficit for the current year, rising to 0.6 and 0.8 percent in the next two years, respectively.
The hot topic of the debate has so far been the raising of the tax free minimum, an idea which had enjoyed support from all major political parties until today when Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi of the Reform Party said that it would be a very expensive measure and there is little room in the new budget for such expenses.
Simson said the tax free minimum has been kept frozen for five years now while living costs have soared. She added that if the minimum can not be increased in the 2014 budget, it should replace the planned decrease in income tax from 2015.
The Finance Ministry recently downgraded GDP growth expectations from 3 percent to 1.5 for the current year, but stood by its 3.6 percent forecast for next year.
The MP said that next year's economic growth will depend much on how Estonia's main export partners are faring.
“Finnish economic growth turned to a decline in the first quarter [of 2013] and Sweden has failed to hand over their latest economic figures to Eurostat,” Simson said.