Center Party chairman: There's too little time to put together state budget

Riigkogou speaker Jüri Ratas
Riigkogou speaker Jüri Ratas Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The chairman of the Center Party Jüri Ratas has put together the state budget for six years but believes that more time than what is currently just a few weeks is needed.

The summer economic forecast could reach the government earlier, Ratas said in an interview to ERR.

"Basically, the coalition has 14-16 days to discuss the budget at best, after which the officials of the Ministry of Finance will have to start compiling it," he said.

Ratas also thinks it is wrong the state budget strategy happens twice a year.

"I think that the Riigikogu could discuss whether it is possible to make the budget and the budget strategy at the same time, i.e. in the autumn," he suggested another solution.

Winter will be difficult

Due to significantly higher inflation, the higher prices of goods and difficulties in supply chains, Ratas believes the next few months will not be easy. "Yes, I think that winter will definitely be difficult," he told ERR.

"There are a lot of supply chains behind us and we can certainly talk about a very fast-rising price increase. I think the public sector needs to take action against that."

As a solution, Ratas outlined the government's plan to waive the excise duty increase. In addition, subsistence allowance for pensioners living alone will rise to €200 next year.

Ratas said a 5 percent salary increase in 2022 awaits frontline employees: teachers, rescue officers, social and cultural workers.

"We will raise the salaries of frontline staff in critical areas and occupations where there is a long-standing backlog: health, social welfare, internal security, culture, education, information technology, aviation, veterinary, statistical office, environment and agri-food," Ratas said.

Fears about vaccination need to be addressed

Speaking about vaccination, Ratas said unvaccinated people should not be labeled as anti-vaxxers people because there is no knowledge as to why they will not get vaccinated.

"We don't know what those reasons are and we don't need to know people's health history," he said. "If the doctors say I don't recommend you get vaccinated, they need to be understood."

"There are a lot of people who have reasonable fears. I think those fears need to be discussed in society as much as possible, and politicians certainly have a big role to play here."

Ratas added that in August, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) proposed to the government that vaccinated people should not wear a mask, which in turn would motivate people to go vaccinated.

Ratas pointed out that for schools where more than 90 percent of employees have been vaccinated, associated costs should be covered.

Ratas said that it was worth considering whether the state could temporarily refrain from charging a special incentive tax to private companies whose employees have been vaccinated.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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