State budget bill passes second reading ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Riigikogu sitting in progress.
Riigikogu sitting in progress. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The 2021 state budget bill passed its second reading at the Riigikogu Thursday evening.

The bill puts state budget expenditures at €13 billion, and revenues at €11 billion, and is based also on Ministry of Finace forecasts for Estonia's GDP to rise 4.5 percent in 2021, having been projected to fall 5.5 percent this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The overall government budget is projected to be in deficit to the tune of around 6.7 percent next year. 

The bill must now pass its third reading; deadline for amendments is the end of this month, with a view to the bill passing into law before year-end. 

A consolidated table of amendments was adopted by the Riigikogu's finance committee, from 44 amendments tabled.

Twenty-five MPs addressed the house during the course of the negotiations; the opposition Reform and Social Democratic parties proposed the second reading be suspended, but were defeated in a vote 54-41, at the 101-seat Riigikogu. 

Comittee chair Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) said that government plans were specified more, in preparation for the second reading, which includes a proposal to give vessels entering ports a 50 percent exemption on waterway taxes in order to stimulate maritime cargo flows. 

Funds have also been set aside for a planned referendum on the definition of marriage, which may take place in late spring. 

Other projections for 2021 from the finance ministry include a rise in tax revenues to €9.3 billion (from €9 billion this year) and a fall in the tax burden to 32.7 percent, from 33.8 percent this year. 

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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