State assets rise by quarter of a billion in 2019 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The 'super-ministry' building in Tallinn, home of the finance ministry and several others.
The 'super-ministry' building in Tallinn, home of the finance ministry and several others. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

State budget expenditure and investment rose by €755 million in 2019, to €10.99 billion. Meanwhile state revenues rose by €727.8 million, to €10.86 billion. Over the same period, the Estonian state held total assets of €16.3 billion, €250 million up on year.

The coalition submitted its consolidated state revenue report to the Riigikogu Thursday, which also revealed that Tax revenues also grew by nearly 10 percent, and unemployment and disability benefits rose.

Real economic growth fell to 4.3 percent in 2019, or to 7.7 percent at current prices.

General government debt burden was 8.4 percent of GDP at the end of 2019, or 6.8 percent if the European Financial Stability Facility is excluded, making the Estonian government sector debt burden the lowest in the EU.

The stabilization reserve increased by 0.7 per cent, and the liquidity reserve by 37.1 per cent, over that period.

The state's loan liabilities increased by €275 million last year, amounting to €3.35 billion at the end of 2019.

Tax revenue breakdown for 2019

  • Tax revenues grew by 9.4 percent last year.
  • All tax types grew equally strongly.
  • Electricity and alcohol excise duties revenues fell 9.1 percent and 2.8 percent respectively.
  • Foreign aid accounted for €884 million, or 8.7 percent of total government revenue.
  • Dividend income remained unchanged on 2018 at €182 million.

Unemployment and disability benefits breakdown

Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) said the government favors investments which increase the growth potential of the Estonian economy, such as transport connections which increase mobility and interconnectivity between different regions of Estonia.

"We need to be able to use public money … wisely enough to increase the growth potential of the economy. This can be done, among other things, with the support of infrastructure investments," Helme noted.

  • General government expenditure stood at €10.39 billion, a rise of €664.6 million, or 6.8 percent on year.
  • Unemployment benefits and work capacity benefits, increased by 45.4 percent (to €93 million). 
  • Family benefits rose by €49.9 million (9 percent).
  • Pensions rose by €75.7 million (4.3 percent).
  • Government sector investment volumes decreased on year, however, to  €945.1 million.

The tax burden breakdown

In 2019, the general government budget deficit stood at €90 million or 0.3 per cent of GDP, according to preliminary data from state agency Statistics Estonia.

  • Both central government and local government were in deficit, at 0.5 and 0.1 per cent of GDP respectively, partly offset by the surplus of social security funds (0.3 per cent of GDP).
  • Compared with 2018, the position the general government sector rose by 0.24 percent of GDP, or €56 million. 
  • The general government structural budget position in the deficit in 2019 was 1.9 percent of GDP.
  • The tax burden in 2019 was 33.2 percent of GDP, 0.4 percent higher than a year earlier, mainly the result of increased labor and consumption taxes.
  • Rapid wage growth that continued in 2019 boosted social tax payments by €288 million. Personal income tax receipts increased by €5 million, since income tax refunds rose by almost €90 million as a result of the deferral of the use of tax-free income.
  • VAT receipts increased by €152 million, sales revenues from fuel excise duties by €95 million, and sales revenue of emission allowances.

The state budget for 2021 is still being discussed by the cabinet, and should be ready for debating and voting at the Riigikogu at the end of this month, with a view to passing in December.

The state expenditure summary for 2019 naturally covers a period prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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