Employers' body chief: Each emergency day equals week of economic recovery ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETTK) managing director Arto Aas.
Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETTK) managing director Arto Aas. Source: ERR

The government should focus even more on aiding the economy, says Arto Aas, head of the Estonian Employers' Confederation (Tööandjate keskliit). Every day of the current emergency situation translates to a week's recovery from the crisis, Aas says.

"I would like to see no further restrictions. In my view, every day the emergency situation continues prolongs exit from the crisis by a week," Aas said, referring to the economic effects of the emergency situation declared by the Estonian government just over a week ago, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

"At this point, there is no point in making the crisis worse," he added, speaking on ETV morning show "Terevisioon".

"Our message is to get back to normal as soon as possible - economic activity, demand and peoplegetting back to work. These days, the media is no longer dominated by messages about health, but about the economy," he went on.

Aas added that the last few days have been most concerned with reinvigorating international trade, as the movement of goods is particularly important for the functioning of an economy.

Aas nonetheless praised the government for its decisions, including the agreement reached with the Unemployment Insurance Board (Töötukassa), to start compensating up to 70 percent of those who have lost their jobs directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"It will help alleviate the first shocks for those who have already lost their jobs to survive two to three months and then hope that the situation will improve in the summer and positive decisions will follow," he said.

It is also prudent for the government to permit people to work across the Estonian border, he added.

At present, those resident in Valka, Latvia who work in Valga, on the Estonian side of the border, are given permission to cross the border without quarantining in order to keep the economy going. Generally, those crossing into Estonia would need to quarantine for 14 days. The same principle works in the opposite directio n, I.e for people whose job is in Valka but work in Valga.

Approximately 50,000 Estonians with a permanent right of residence in Finland, plus 20,000 Estonians with a temporary right of residence there, can continue to enter Finland to work after border restrictions come into force on March 19 in Finland, which is also imposing a 14-day quarantine measure.

Aas also noted that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications have not yet announced measures to help businesses; he pointed out the suggestion that companies should be offered tax deferrals and not be required to pay tax arrears at present.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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