The Riigikogu's finance committee has agreed to a €12-million agricultural support package, the committee's chair, Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) says.
Kokk told ERR Wednesday that the money would likely find its way into the 2021 state budget, currently at the Riigikogu for debating and amendments.
ERR recently reported that representatives of agricultural producers sent a letter to Minister of Rural Affairs Arvo Aller (EKRE), asking for €24 million in support to the sector to compensate for losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Of other potential amendments to the budget bill, Kokk said that exempting pensions from income tax – an amendment proposed by Reform – was certainly feasible, as was the provision of psychologists in schools.
Kokk said Tuesday that he does not find the two most significant amendment proposals from the two opposition parties, Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), to be realistic.
Reform tabled a total of 10 amendments to the bill, while SDE came up with 19 both as a group and from individual MPs.
Kokk's beef was with Reform's calls to balance the state budget by 2023, which he said could not happen till a couple of years after that at the earliest, and with SDE's proposal to guarantee a care home place for those without a pension.
Most other proposals, which included changed sick pay provisions – which the government has in principle signed up to anyway – and ways to get advances made at universities to find their way to businesses.
However, the committee's deputy chair, Reform MP Maris Lauri, said that not too many conclusions should be drawn from the meeting.
"Certainly it would be great if some of the proposals found coalition support. However, this type of stance has been seen in the past, where everything is seen as fine [by the coalition] but then nothing ever ends up happening, as always," she said.
"I think that those who proposed the amendments would be prepared to make some changes to those, for instance to sources [of money] or amounts," she went on.
SDE MP and committee member Riina Sikkut was a little bit more optimistic, however.
"Really, some of the amendments are such that an agreement could be reached next week," Sikkut said.
The committee members are set to discuss the proposals within their respective party groupings at the Riigikogu next Monday, with a final decision to be made by the committee next week.
A total of 45 amendments have been proposed, mostly from the two opposition parties but some from coalition MPs as well.
The state budget's second reading is due on November 18; the bill needs to pass with or without amendments before year end.
Editor: Andrew Whyte