Finance minister: Hopefully there are no big mistakes in next year's budget
Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) said on Thursday that the Ministry of Finance has tried to reduce the likelihood of major errors in next year's state budget bill.
"This time we have tried to minimize the likelihood of errors remaining in the budget bill due to time pressure or haste. I very much hope that there are no such errors in the 2022 budget," Pentus-Rosimannus said at a press conference.
Sven Kirsipuu, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Finance, said the ministry has taken a number of steps to reduce the likelihood of errors.
"The preparation of the budget takes place under very great time pressure, with a large number of parties and institutions working together on it, and the human factor always remains," Kirsipuu told BNS.
"We have analyzed and changed our work procedures, and we changed the organizational structure last year, so that the burden is distributed more evenly and the control mechanisms are better ensured. The number of officials has not been increased," he said.
According to the deputy secretary general, the ministry has developed existing IT solutions and automated data flows.
"We are currently analyzing, together with our partners, ways to make the next qualitative leap in software functionality," he added.
Kirsipuu also said that since this is already the third activity-based state budget for Estonia, the initial difficulties, from which also the errors in the budget cited by the National Audit Office stemmed, have been mostly overcome
"Next year, we also plan to simplify the budget process as a whole -- namely, where the process is currently carried out twice a year, in spring and early autumn, in the future the state budget and the state budget strategy will be prepared together in autumn. This way there will be less room for error too," Kirsipuu said.
A report by the Estonian National Audit Office published at the end of August shows that all consolidated amounts - revenue, expenditure, investments, financing transactions -- in the state budget 2020 passed as law by the Riigikogu are incorrect because the Ministry of Finance, which prepared the draft legislation, has made accounting and calculation errors in hundreds of millions euros.
The audit report shows that the ministry presented the revenue of the budget higher and expenditures, investments, and financing transactions lower than it actually is. As a result, the difference between revenue and expenditure in the state budget has been presented as more favorable by €365 million.
The government on Thursday morning approved the bill of the state budget for next year, with budget revenues at €13.13 billion, expenditures at €13.64 billion and investments at €716 million.
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Editor: Helen Wright