The government has allocated €1.8 billion for health care spending in the 2021 budget, which includes funding from the European Union. Millions will also be spent on public transport and construction.
This includes €200 million in additional funding aimed at combating COVID-19 in strengthening the Health Board (Terviseamet), bolstering the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) and finance necessary investments for increasing the preparedness of the hospital network to better cope with future healthcare crises, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Wednesday.
"Operating support for the Health Insurance Fund helps to ensure the availability of medical services at least on the present scale. For developing the Estonian healthcare system and increasing the quality of medical services, investments in hospitals across Estonia will occupy an important role in the coming few years," the minister said according to spokespeople.
Breakdown of health care components within the state budget
- €5 million earmarked for strengthening the Health Board and for infectious disease laboratories, IT systems, care homes and hotlines.
- €36 million sought from EU funding for the healthcare sector, particularly in augmenting hospital preparedness, personnel, cooperation in research, medicine stocks and preparedness for emergencies.
- €143.4 million to the Health Insurance Fund for 2021 for operational costs and ensuring availability. This should offset impact of a reduction in social tax receipts which the fund cannot otherwise bridge, making its budget grow by €98 million, to €1.7 billion, for 2021.
- €64.84 for hospital projects sought from EU funding for next few years, on top of €4.5 million in state budget. Money is to be set aside for the planned Tallinn Hospital.
- €55.56 million earmarked to acquiring ambulance helicopters.
- €1 million to Estonian Genome Project for preserving samples taken in 2018-2019.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) said: "Hospitals will occupy the first place in real estate investments in the coming years. This is necessary to increase the capability of the field of healthcare in light of crises. While the biggest project in the coming few years is Tallinn Hospital, a big proportion of the assets will go also beyond the capital city."
The minister said that to improve the quality of medical care and modernize it, a new county hospital and health center will be built in Viljandi, and the psychiatry center there will be renovated.
Emergency medicine departments in Hiiu and Jarva county hospitals are to benefit from investments, along with the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH), the Ida-Viru Central Hospital, and the University of Tartu Hospital.
The state budget was agreed between the cabinet Tuesday and was handed to the Riigikogu for debate on Wednesday. It then needs to be voted on.
The government has set aside €1.04 billion for investments in next year's state budget. About half of the financing of investments comes from external sources
€438 million to be spent on public transport in 2021-2024
The government plans to allocate €438 million in support of public transport over the next four years, aiming to ensure the continuation of free public transport at least at the current level and to maintain the capacity of ferry traffic between the islands and the mainland.
An additional ship will be added to to the route between Virtsu-Kuivastu from 2023, which could also be used on the Rohukula-Heltermaa route if necessary during peak summer season.
The state budget strategy shows the state also plans to improve air connections between the island of Saaremaa and the mainland and bring a larger aircraft to the Kuressaare route.
The largest projects in road construction in the next four year period is the Voobu-Mao section which has been given €50 million. This is followed by the Parnu-Uulu section which has been allocated €46 million euros. After these two, the Kanama-Valingu section with €30.7 million, the Karevere-Kardla section with €18 million, the Vao intersection with €10.7 million and the Sauga-Parnu section with €8.5 million are the largest.
The state will also support the renovation of the Tapa-Narva, Tallinn-Tartu and Riisipere-Turba railways and continue with the Rail Baltic railway project.
€136 million allocated for construction and repair of buildings in 2021
The government will invest an additional €85 million euros in real estate next year, with more than €136 million in total to be directed towards the construction and repair of buildings during the year.
In the coming years, the state is planning large-scale investments in healthcare infrastructure, schools and cultural establishments. For that purpose, some 480 million euros in EU funding is planned to be raised by 2026, the Ministry of Finance said.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab said the increase in investments by the state also is to do with enlivening the economy.
"Due to the coronavirus crisis, orders by the private sector for the construction of real estate are declining. The construction sector, however, makes a big contribution to the Estonian economy and employment," he said.
The minister of public administration said that also police and rescue buildings in several places across Estonia are to benefit from investments. At Rouge in southeastern Estonia and on the small Gulf of Riga island of Ruhnu new rescue bases will be built for volunteer rescuers. Also, money is to be spent on repairs on the lighthouses of Ruhnu and Tallinn.
In Tallinn, a joint building of the Police and Border Guard Board will be built on Adala Street and the southwestern small town of Kilingi-Nomme will get a modern joint building of the police, border guard and rescue service.
In addition, two state gymnasiums will be established in Tallinn and the student hall of the Academy of Security Sciences on Kase Street will be reconstructed.
In the area of government of the Ministry of Culture, the National Library of Estonia will be renovated, a studio building for public broadcaster ERR built, and the Tallinna Kunstihoone art building overhauled in the next few years.
The premises of the Government Office are to be overhauled, and the Estonian Knighthood House at Toompea will be reconstructed to serve as the representative building of the state.
Editor: Andrew Whyte