Ratas: New government was handed state finances in best possible condition

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Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Previous prime minister and Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas did not agree with Minister of Economic Affairs Keit Pentus-Rosimannus' (Reform) claims that there are unfinished cuts worth hundreds of millions in the state budget, saying the previous government handed over the economy in the best possible condition.

Pentus-Rosimannus told Vikerraadio on Thursday that the previous government left cuts worth several million in the state budget, but did not carry them out. She added that if the cuts were implemented, it would mean reducing the expenses of ministries by around half.

Ratas responded: "We are in a crisis and it certainly means a decrease in budget revenue. What the previous government did and I am proud of us for doing it - we borrowed, we went to maintain the level the Estonian economy and life, social security, was on prior to the crisis. I think it was the correct direction. You say that there are cuts, €260 million next year, €700-800 million in the entire state budget strategy, is that a bluff - I am sorry, it is no bluff."

Ratas told Vikerraadio's news show "Uudis+" that the state budget desperately needs revisions: "We have not made revisions in the state budget for over 20 years, as far as I know. When speaking of the state budget with the Ministry of Finance's officials, they will say that making revisions is very correct. In the previous coalitions, we began looking over the expenses and it is the right direction, the state budget revisions must be done. This is what the new government now needs to do."

The former prime minister said the previous government did all it could in crisis conditions. "I think that in this situation, the Estonian economy and finances have been handed over to the new government in the best possible condition. We must consider where we are at in 2021 - a health crisis, economic crisis, some EU leaders say: the greatest crisis of the century," Ratas noted.

Ratas recommends environment minister get a college degree

"Uudis+" host Arp Müller asked Ratas if he considers it appropriate that freshly appointed environment minister Tõnis Mölder does not have a higher education. Ratas said receiving an education should be Mölder's goal.

"I consider education to be very important. In a ministerial post, an example to the Estonian society, a degree and education is very important. Yes, I must admit that Tõnis Mölder does not have a university education. I sincerely hope that the young man understands how important this is and takes university very seriously and can go through it and get the degree. Previous Estonian ministers have also had high school educations, but that does not mean it is an excuse. I think Tõnis Mölder has my recommendation to move forward in regards to education," Ratas said.

Tõnis Mölder, a former deputy mayor of Tallinn, graduated Lihula High School in 2009 with a silver medal, which is given for great results. He went to Tallinn University from there and studied political science until 2015, but did not graduate.

Ratas said he is always available for Mölder when it comes to recommendations, but Mölder will certainly need the help of specialists and experts when it comes to the importance of environmental topics.

"There have never been as many perspective environmental political decisions made in Estonia than in the last two years. I think that in climate and envrionment policy, Center has taken the most active role. If Tõnis comes to ask, I will give him good ideas and recommendations, but he must involve a lot of people, especially considering what is going on in forestry, or rather logging. And when it comes to the forestry development plan," Ratas added.

Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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