Parliament approves 2015 state budget
Estonia's 2015 state budget passed its third and final reading in the Parliament on Wednesday. Revenues are estimated to be 8.45 billion euros, expenditure a slightly higher 8.54 billion euros. Public sector wages, pensions and child support benefits will rise, while taxes will be reduced.
The budget was supported by 56 MPs, while 35 voted against.
"The Finance Committee made a proposal during the third reading, which led to more funds being allocated to regional investments and third sector and civil society projects. The committee gave its support to 540 projects that will receive a one-off boost from the state," said Social Democrat Rannar Vassiljev, chair of the Parliament's Finance Committee.
Expenditure will grow 6 percent, to 8.54 billion euros. Revenues will increase 7 percent, reaching 8.45 billion euros. The structural surplus is estimated to be 0.8 percent of the GDP.
Defense spending will grow to 2.05 percent of GDP, or 418 million euros. That is a 28 million more than in 2014.
Internal security forces will receive 425 million euros; a 5.3 percent increase compared to last year.
The payroll fund of public sector workers will increase 3 percent. An above-average pay rise of 4.5 percent will be given to internal security employees, teachers, social and cultural workers.
Social protection costs, amounting to 2.86 billion euros, make up over one-third of the total expenditure. The 7.2 percent increase will cover the rise of monthly child allowances from 19.18 euros to 45 euros for the first and second and from 76.7 euros to 100 euros for the third child. Pensions will rise 5.9 percent, reaching an average of 374 euros per month.
Free school lunches, currently provided to basic school students, will be extended to secondary schools - an extra 3.1 million euros was allocated to schools to ensure that another 22,000 students get at least one hot meal a day.
Income tax will drop from 21 to 20 percent and the unemployment insurance premium from 3 to 2.4 percent.