Ministry does not rule out errors in new state budget
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance admits that due to the peculiarities of the work process, errors may also occur in the new state budget, which the National Audit Office (Riigikontroll) pointed out in the report published this week.
"Unfortunately, we will probably not be able to guarantee that there will never be a mistake in the budget. The budget is compiled under great time pressure by many parties and agencies, and the human factor will always remain," Sven Kirsipuu, Undersecretary of Budget Policy at the Ministry of Finance, told ERR.
The report of the National Audit Office revealed that in all the aggregate amounts of the 2020 state budget adopted by law in the Riigikogu - revenues, expenditures, investments and financing transactions - inaccuracies due to accounting and calculation errors amounting to hundreds of millions of euros. Kirsipuu and former Minister of Finance Sven Sester (Isamaa) both justified the errors with the organization of budget compilation and the accompanying lack of time.
The undersecretary, said, however, that the ministry has taken a number of steps to reduce the likelihood of errors.
"We have analyzed and changed our business processes and last year also the organizational structure so that the workload would be more evenly distributed and the control mechanisms would be better ensured. The number of officials has not been increased," Kirsipuu said.
In addition, IT systems are being developed, which should contribute to the accuracy of the budget: "We have developed the existing IT solutions and automated data flow and are currently working with partners to analyze ways to make the next qualitative leap in software functionality. "
He said that the fact that a third activity-based state budget is being prepared should also contribute to the completion of a more correct budget. "In other words, the growth difficulties, which also gave rise to the errors referred to by the National Audit Office, have hopefully been largely overcome," the undersecretary added.
As the main factor in errors is lack of resources and time pressure, the ministry plans to simplify the budget process as a whole next year, Kirsipuu said.
A high-ranking official from the Ministry of Finance also promised that in response to the criticism, the 2022 budget would be prepared in more detail than in the past.
"Both the National Audit Office and members of the Riigikogu have criticized that it is difficult to monitor the budget and explanatory letter. Therefore, we plan to prepare the state budget for 2022 in much more detail than before," Kirsipuu said.
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Editor: Roberta Vaino