While given the extraordinary year, given the coronavirus pandemic, might lead one to expect the government to match with an extraordinary budget, the plan the cabinet unveiled Tuesday was notably like a regular annual budget, opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Riina Sikkut says.
Talking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Tuesday night, Sikkut, a former health minister, said that EU money, loan money and tax revenues from pre-pandemic years of economic growth mean that a less standard budget could have been put together if the government had had a mind to do so.
"The government has many tools to guide the life of the economy and society: Tax revenues, seven years-worth of euro money (the EU budgetary period ended this year, with a new period set to start for 2021-2027 from next year – ed.) … money from the restart plan and [government borrowed] loan money too," she said.
"We are still talking about extraordinary amounts, and if we were to utilize them, there could have been an extraordinary budget of this kind, with goals that we have to achieve," she continued.
Sikkut enumerated some of these goals as being making houses more energy efficient, switching further to renewable energy, and also to allow statutory sick pay from day one – not after several days as the government has set – as this would actually enable people with primary coronavirus symptoms to easily stay off work as the government itself requires.
The government approved the state budget for 2021, which sets expenditures at approximately €13 billion and revenues at over €11 billion, along with the state budget strategy for 2021-2024. The budget bill now goes to the Riigikogu for debating and voting, with a view to getting passed by year end.
Editor: Andrew Whyte