Reform MP: We like targeted supplementary budget items, which not all are ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Kaja Kallas and Aivar Sõerd (Reform) at a press conference.
Kaja Kallas and Aivar Sõerd (Reform) at a press conference. Source: ERR

Reform MP Aivar Sõerd, who sits on the Riigikogu's finance committee, said the opposition supports urgent, well-targeted and temporary measures aimed at stimulating the economy in the supplementary budget, but opposes, or at least Sõerd himself opposes, cutting excise duties at present.

The coalition presented its supplementary budget, by which it aims to tackle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, to the Riigikogu on Thursday, for its initial vote.

"There are a number of such measures that we can certainly support on the part of the opposition (the Reform Party and the Social Democratic Party-ed.)," Sõerd told ERR Thursday.

These include wage subsidies through the Unemployment Insurance Fund, guarantees and liquidity loans through Kredex; Sõerd added that such measures are urgent and should be targeted and temporary.

Some measures have been added to take advantage of the crisis situation to implement the program points of his own party, Sõerd said, however. 

"I would definitely place excise measures in this category. The reduction of natural gas excise duty will still have a relatively small effect on the final consumer. And Ratas' own government raised this duty a few years ago," he said.

Similarly, Sõerd was critical of the reduction in diesel excise duty. "It is not urgent, well-targeted or effective," he said.

Aivar Sõerd also said that public spending cuts are almost non-existent in the supplementary budget. 

"I quickly reviewed the explanatory memorandum to the supplementary budget, and it shows that while revenues in this year's budget decrease by €1.4 billion, of which [lost] tax revenues will be about €1 billion, expenditures will be reduced by only €38 million."

While the supplementary budget aims to spend on key areas to combat the coronavirus effects, it does not make savings elsewhere, Sõerd argued, echoing a line taken by party leader Kaja Kallas in response to the budget.

"From this €38 million, there have been real cuts of just €6 million in the field of education, and then another €6 million and €4 million in EU taxes and CO2 expenditure, respectively. Thus, there are almost no cost cuts in the supplementary budget," he went on.

Sõerd added that the draft supplementary budget even includes items which did not fit into the current state budget due to lack of funds.

The supplementary budget is not law yet; its second reading is likely April 13, and third and final on two or three days after that, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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