Opposition points to €300 million hole in state budget, as 2nd reading is passed
IRL MP Helir-Valdor Seeder said the European Commission's remark that Estonia's 2015 state budget has a 300-million-euro hole, has not been answered.
Rannar Vassiljev, head of the Finance Committee, said that 300 million is not missing. “The remark is about structural balance, which can not be translated into numbers.”
He said the Estonian Finance Ministry uses a different methodology compared to the European Commission, which has not asked Estonia to make changes to the budget.
The debate is over the structural balance, which according to the Commission, has been changed from a surplus of 0.8 percent of GDP to a 0.7 percent deficit. IRL MP Sven Sester said that amounts to 300 million euros.
Center Party MP Kadri Simson said that the planned decrease in income tax from 21 to 20 percent is coming at the wrong time, as her party's proposals of better school meals, more funding for local roads, free regional public transport, salary increases for police, and subsidies for farmers all need funding.
IRL said it will not resort to filibustering tactics during the budget readings as it is only an interim budget with no clear aim. End-of-year budget debates have traditionally been drawn out, but this year only 23 changes were proposed by the opposition, compared to hundreds last year.
The budget passed its second reading in Parliament on Wednesday, with a final reading yet to come. The budget estimates revenues at 8.45 billion euros, a 7 percent increase compared to the current budget. Expenditures at 8.54 billion, a 6 percent increase.