In an interview with ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Friday, Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kaimar Karu explained that the primary goal of Estonia's state aid package is to protect people from losing their jobs.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon, Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said that extraordinary measures related to the coronavirus outbreak will cost the state budget some €1.5-2 billion this year and next.
Karu explained that evening that this was an initial sum based on ministries' possible action plans.
"Ministries are meeting every day right now, plus the committee," he said. "They are reviewing what the most reasonable measures would be and are calculating what this all might cost. The current total for rapid measures plus moderate-speed or moderate-impact measures is in the €1.5 billion range."
The minister confirmed that the primary goal of planned aid measures is to ensure that people don't end up jobless.
"To help as many people as possible avoid losing their jobs, and ensure them work both during this two-week period during which they might have to remain home, as well as in the longer term, if their company ends up facing difficulties," Karu explained. "There is one interest for employees. Those sectors that have been hit the hardest — the tourism sector, and certainly entertainment companies, where people are essentially jobless right now."
He said that these measures include state support, which among other things will mean the partial payment of wages to employees. The other aspect will be aiding employers — reducing taxes in a specific sector, or paying support.
One specific measure involves Kredex, Karu said. "For example, either loans or sureties for loans," he explained. "Commercial banks have actually said right now that the money essentially exists, but as we have previously seen, a Kredex surety on the part of the state is always a reasonable addition which will help companies borrow."
Among other steps, the government also plans to borrow €1 billion to help alleviate the economic crisis. Karu admitted that Estonia has never tried to borrow such a large amount in a situation in which the entire world is facing a crisis situation.
"What we are trying to do in Estonia is demonstrate that we have a plan, and we are dealing with it at a reasonable clip," the minister said. "And Estonia's prior economic behavior has given no reason to believe that we aren't financially sound."
Editor: Aili Vahtla