Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, contacted the Estonian authorities regarding the 2020 budget errors detected by the National Audit Office (Riigikontroll) and says it is examining whether it is necessary to improve last year's data on Estonia's budget deficit and public debt. According to the Ministry of Finance, the errors did not affect Estonia's budget position.
"Eurostat is aware of the differences in the presented in the National Audit Office's report and is in contact with Statistics Estonia," a press officer from the European Commission's Tallinn office mediated Eurostat's response to the ERR.
"Eurostat and Statistics Estonia will jointly determine whether the data on Estonia's deficit and debt for 2020 sent to Eurostat this April are correct or need to be corrected. They will also assess the nature of the potential problem and its origin," Eurostat added.
Sven Kirsipuu, Undersecretary of Budget Policy of the Ministry of Finance, told ERR that the errors did not affect the calculation of the budget position.
"The errors pointed out by the National Audit Office and identified by the Ministry of Finance last year and notified to the Government and the Riigikogu by the Finance Committee were related to consolidation entries, i.e. budget totals. The budget calculations of all ministries were correct," Kirsipuu said.
He said that the total amounts of state budget revenues and expenditures do not reach the general government budget position. "The calculation of the budget balance is different from the methodology of the state budget and it is done according to the principles of the European System of Accounts (ESA) followed by Eurostat. The input data for assessing the budget position are taken from the changes in the budgets of the national authorities and there were no errors in these expenditures," Kirsipuu continued.
The main task of Eurostat, the European Commission's statistical office, is to provide the European institutions with statistical information on Europe and to contribute to the harmonization of statistical methodologies used in the Member States, candidate countries and European Free Trade Association Member States.
The EU has tightened up the collection and presentation of Member States' statistics and harmonized its methodology after it became apparent over the last decade that Greece had falsified some of its public finance statistics, implying that its economic situation was better than it actually was at the time.
Editor: Roberta Vaino