The finance committee of the Estonian parliament at a sitting on Tuesday voted on the amendments submitted to next year's state budget and agreed to send the draft to the second reading at a plenary sitting on November 18.
Finance committee chairman Aivar Kokk said the 44 proposed amendments were discussed and a consolidated proposal tabled by the finance committee was supported. "In this proposal, we specified the budget for the implementation of the plans planned in the government's action program," Kokk said.
"In connection with the need to support the continuation of international maritime transport through Estonian ports and motivate shippers to direct their cargo flows through Estonian ports, we propose to exempt ships entering Estonian ports from paying waterway charges in the extent of 50 percent until the end of next year and compensate the state budget for lost revenue," he added.
Kokk pointed out that the committee also allocated funds for the organization of the planned plebiscite. "In deciding on the remaining proposals, the proposed sources of coverage were not acceptable, which would have altered the achievement of the objectives pursued in the budget," the committee chair said.
Kokk said that the support of €12 million promised to farmers will be allocated through this year's budget, because the bill of amendments to the 2020 State Budget Act is also being processed.
"A number of proposals are still under discussion in the committee and further amendments can be made to the bill during third reading," he added.
Deputy chair of the finance committee Maris Lauri said that the coalition MPs did not support by a majority the amendments that should be made in the current tense economic situation.
"The biggest problem with the 2021 budget is its huge deficit, which does not take into account the circumstances. Estonia is the only country in Europe that plans to increase its deficit next year, despite the projected 4.5 percent growth. Proposals for some cost-cutting by the state, as the private sector is doing, did not find support from the pro-spending coalition," Lauri said.
According to the 2021 state budget bill, initiated by the government, the size of the state budget for 2021 is almost €13 billion in expenditures and close to €11 billion in revenues.
The gap is due to necessary investments to restore economic growth, as a result of which expenditures will exceed revenues. The nominal deficit of the general government sector budget will equal 6.7 percent of GDP and the structural deficit 6.6 percent of GDP next year.
Editor: Helen Wright