Opposition critical of state budget
The opposition finds salary hikes to be insufficient and criticizes government for failure to alleviate electricity price hike.
Opposition forces remain critical of the 2022 state budget agreed between the ruling Reform and Center parties. They describe the public sector's 5 percent salary hike as too little and say that the cabinet is reluctant to seriously address the spiking price of electricity.
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Indrek Saar was also critical of the hobby activities funding cut that has not disappeared from the draft budget. According to the spring state budget strategy (RES) plan, financing for local government hobby support will drop from the current €14 million to €7 million a year.
Saar described cutting back hobby education in the conditions of better than forecast economic growth as cynical.
The SDE leader referred to culture workers, police officers and rescuers' salary advance as mockery.
The salary advance for this year and next totals 14 percent. Giving 5 percent therein back to those who have been promised hikes that would help their salaries overtake the national average only for them to catch up to said target is mockery," Saar said.
Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder said that the price of electricity, its effects for people and business is the most pressing issue right now. He added that the government is offering almost no solutions nor does it plan to exempt consumers from paying the renewable energy fee.
"This topic remains completely unsolved. Yet, corresponding revenue is set to grow by two and a half times compared to forecasts precisely because of the sharp CO2 quota price hike. Nothing is being done to channel that money into helping the people cope and maintaining Estonia's competitive ability," Seeder said.
Martin Helme, head of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), said that it is unlikely inflation will slow down in the near future and that the government should help lower electricity prices. This could be done by cutting transmission fees in addition to the excise duty.
Helme also said that the power transmission fees include the considerable profit of network operator Elering that could be cut back by shelving major investment projects.
Head of the non-parliamentary Eesti 200 Kristina Kallas referred to next year's budget as maintaining the status quo. While all the necessary items seem to be listed, actual salary advance will not happen because inflation will simply swallow the hike.
Kallas is also critical of the government's public sector expenses cut that has been largely retained. Austerity has been dialed back from €60 million planned in spring to €50 million.
Ordering ministries to cut costs led to the axing of the Defense Forces band and chaplaincy service.
"Everyone realizes that it is merely creating the appearance of efficiency. Saying that we will cut the budget by €50-60 million, lay off 130 officials and thus conclude the state reform. At the same time, the workload of other public servants will likely grow. Quality of services will suffer because the nature of work has not been changed, services reorganized or rendered more efficient. Ministries will return with new funding requests in two years' time where all of it will have returned," Kallas said.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski