Supplementary budget includes €30 million crisis aid for local governments ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

"Super ministry" building on Suur-Ameerika, viewed from Liivalaia street in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The supplementary budget presented to the Riigikogu by the coalition government on Thursday includes €100 million to local government, of which €30 million is earmarked for crisis aid, which will be at local authorities' discretion as to how to use.

Chair of coalition party Isamaa, Helir-Valdor Seeder, said this €30 million was for the most pressing additional expenses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment rising

Over 4,000 people have registered unemployed since the government declared its emergency situation on March 12, overall unemployment has risen to 6.3 percent and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa) has received 47 initial collective redundancy notices, including at least 15 this week, since the crisis began, affecting around 900 people's jobs.

All regions of the country are seeing in increase in unemployment.

Sick leave over three times usual rate

Exacerbating the situation, said finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE), is an uptick in people on sick leave. Whereas "traditionally" around 25,000-30,000 people can be on sick leave at any given time, since the coronavirus reached Estonia in late February this figure has risen to approximately 100,000.

Not the end of the aid packages or law changes

Helir-Valdo Seeder said that the supplementary budget measures are not more extensive, precisely because more are planned, but these depend on how the situation pans out.

"Not all rounds should be fired off in the first battle," Seeder said.

"The door [on further support measures] has not been closed; this is to help of the whole country. We have to be flexible," he went on, noting that legislation to date in Estonia has turned out to be particularly rigid, meaning dozens of laws will need to be amended to allow faster responses from the government and the implementing state agencies.

The actual aid needs to be further refined by bodies like the unemployment fund, Enterprise Estonia and KredEx, Seeder went on, expressing the hope that they did so responsibly, as if not, some sectors or companies might miss out.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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