Finance Committee sends 2020 state budget bill to final reading
Final decisions were made at a meeting of the Finance Committee of the Riigikogu on Tuesday regarding motions to amend next year's state budget, which will be sent to its third and final reading in the Riigikogu on Wednesday.
Finance Committee chairman Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) said in a press release on Tuesday that recommendations by parliamentary groups and MPs concerned regional investments and third sector as well as civil society projects therein, the total sum of which is €4.3 million.
"Supplementary resources are sought for local communities, kindergartens, schools, children's hobby activities, women's societies, religious communities and other volunteer organizations," Kokk said.
Motions by the Reform Party parliamentary group involved the budget achieving structural balance, establishing an income tax exemption for the average pension, increasing teachers' salaries, improving Estonian language instruction as well as boosting research and development (R&D).
"The Finance Committee has reviewed the submitted motions," Kokk said. "Proposals the sources for covering expenditures of which were suitable were combined, and they will be reflected in the Finance Committee's proposed amendments, which were supported in a vote. The biggest change concerns an increase in top-up support for farmers, which is to be increased by €5 million."
The total support to be allocated to farmers in next year's budget, he added, has thus increased to €10.3 million.
Finance Committee deputy chairwoman Maris Lauri (Reform) said that parties in the ruling coalition apparently find that it suits them that the Riigikogu is neither conducting any meaningful discussion regarding the budget nor making any changes, and is instead focusing on distributing small sums to their constituents.
"Topics that matter from the perspective of the future are of no concern to the coalition parties at all," Lauri added.
€11.6 billion state budget
According to the 2020 state budget bill, the state's expenses next year will total €11.6 billion, while income is estimated to total €11.8 billion. Compared with this year, expenses are to increase by approximately €240 million, while income is to increase by €760 million.
The 2020 budget bill is in a nominal balance. Next year's structural deficit will equal 0.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), with the structural deficit shrinking to 0.2 percent in 2021 and the budget reaching a structural balance in 2022.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla