Chairman of the coalition Isamaa party Helir-Valdor Seeder told "Aktuaalne kaamera" that a second potential supplementary budget should include cuts proposals as to which the government will put together over the next three months.
"Putting together austerity budgets is a different matter entirely than drawing up supplementary ones. However, the government has already decided on record that cost-cutting proposals will be made in the second quarter. What they will be remains to be seen," Seeder told the TV news program.
The politician said that aspects tied to a second supplementary budget will depend on how quickly the coronavirus will subside and how deep and long-lasting its effects on the Estonian economy will be.
"If the first supplementary budget and support package is aimed at helping the economy across the board so to speak, its potential successor must focus more narrowly on sectors and companies with the potential for exiting the crisis first," Seeder said.
"A second supplementary budget would also have to include austerity measures because it is impossible for the public sector to remain whole while its private counterpart is forced to cut costs. Therefore, a possible second supplementary budget would definitely be quite different from the first," he added.
Seeder said that resources saved need to be channeled into business and healthcare. "We can also save by making organizational changes. For example, the Riigikogu discussed merging four different foundations and agencies, merging the language inspectorate and board today. Such long-term measures aimed at efficiency need to be among the steps we will take," Seeder said.
The Isamaa leader added, however, that the state should not save at the expense of national and local government investments that lived up the economy.
Seeder emphasized that a possible cost-cutting budget cannot be an analog of austerity measures taken 10 years ago.
Asked whether the government should borrow more and how much, Seeder said it will depend on the nature of the economic crisis. "The proper ideology today is to capitalize on the possibility of borrowing for as long as conditions remain favorable and only then dip into reserves," Seeder said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski