Speaker of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) said on Friday the Riigikogu would not meet to discuss the emergency budget next week as no sittings are planned. The opposition said they are prepared to do so but there is currently nothing ready to be discussed.
Earlier this week, Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said the government wants to have the supplementary budget, which agrees on the terms for the €2 billion worth of measures to protect the economy against the coronavirus crisis, passed as soon as possible. Ideally on April 6.
In order to pass, the bill must first be submitted and discussed by the Riigikogu's committees who then decided whether or not it can go on the following week's agenda. For the bill to be discussed on Monday, April 6 it must be discussed next week.
However, on Friday, Helme told Delfi's Ärileht portal that since the Riigikogu would not hold a session next week, it was decided that members of the Riigikogu would not meet for an additional session and that it may also take longer than previously thought to prepare the draft bill to put to the Riigikogu.
Põlluaas said that in consultation with the elders of the Riigikogu, it became clear that by next week they would not have the required 51 votes in the Riigikogu to pass the bill.
He said if the government's bill is to be distributed to the committees next week, it may happen that a first reading can be done on April 6, immediately after the bill has been handed over.
Kaja Kallas, chairman of the Reform Party, says the opposition is ready to hold discussions next week but, to their knowledge, the bill will not be ready until April 1 (Wednesday), which could then be discussed on April 2 and put on the agenda for April 6.
"We are ready to discuss it in committees, but we are not prepared to approve anything blindly," Kallas added.
Kokk: Finance Committee is ready for a busy week
Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Riigikogu Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) said the Finance Committee will meet on Monday to discuss the government's crisis response package.
"It is in the interests of Estonian entrepreneurs and people that the economic package to mitigate the effects of the crisis should be approved by the Riigikogu as soon as possible. The goal is to help businesses survive the economic downturn. At the last session of the committee, it was agreed the bill would be submitted to the Riigikogu on April 1. That is why we have scheduled Finance Committee meetings on Monday and Tuesday to discuss crisis measures," Kokk said.
Kokk said the Finance Committee is also prepared to meet on other days of the week. At the same time, he said it is possible to start applying the measures of Kredex and the Unemployment Insurance Fund to Estonian companies without the approval of the Riigikogu.
Kokk added that a number of laws need to be amended along with the supplementary budget, and that all groups and committees wanted to speak.
"The supplementary budget debate must be thorough, and if necessary, the Riigikogu must also make adjustments to the budget. For clarity, there must also be implementing provisions to ensure that all decision-makers and applicants are clear and transparent," Kokk said.
Editor: Helen Wright