Prime Minister and Reform Party chairman Kaja Kallas said a recent drop in support ratings for her party stems from carrying the responsibility of being in government.
"The Reform Party carries the responsibility of being in government. This means the anger regarding two topics currently affecting society - the coronavirus crisis and high electricity prices - must be directed at someone," Kallas told ERR on Tuesday morning.
She told Vikerraadio's morning show "Vikerhommik" that there are no simple solutions for these problems, although populists in opposition parties may offer them up. Kallas said the Conservative People's Party of Estonia's (EKRE) rise in support must be acknowledged.
"But party ratings go up and down and if we begin making choices on ratings in government, it would not be good for the country," the prime minister said. "The easiest thing to do would be not to decide anything, but that would also not be good for the state as a whole."
Recovery fund to less than €800 million
Speaking on the EU's recovery fund, set to officially be announced on Tuesday, Kallas said the sum Estonia will receive will be less than initially planned since the country's economy has recovered unexpectedly well.
Estonia was set to receive more than €1 billion from the recovery fund initially, but that sum was dropped to around €800 million and will now be even less, the prime minister said. The exact sum will become clear next summer.
Kallas added that as Estonia was set to receive more from the fund, the drawn up plans have to be redone and other projects must be financed with other resources.
Taxes and green revolution the main topic in Riigikogu elections
Kallas said taxes and the green revolution will become the most popular topics in the Riigikogu elections in 2023.
"One topic will certainly be tax policy: what, why and how high will we tax things and what we aim to achieve with that. It is complicated when we look at the entire picture and not changing single taxes," she noted.
The prime minister said the green revolution will be another point of concern. "What will it bring Estonia and how can it be organized," she said.
At the same time, Kallas emphasized that it is hard to predict the future and pointed to the coronavirus health crisis, which the government currently has to deal with.
Restrictions will not be changed now
Responding to a question about easing coronavirus restrictions, the prime minister said the restrictions are more for controlling the spread of the virus and not restricting society.
"These measures cannot be dropped because infections and hospitalizations would increase," the prime minister said. Although infections are not as high as they were during the previous waves of the virus, hospitals are still overburdened, which could lead to other patients suffering, she added.
Speaking on criticisms made by state auditor general Janar Holm, Kallas said it was an overview drawn up on her own behalf and many of the topics brought up in the letter have already been solved or eased by now. "But communication and speaking to entrepreneurs can always be organized better," she admitted.
Kallas agreed that everyone would like to know what is to come with the coronavirus pandemic, but the crisis has been very dynamic and the situation has constantly changed, which means decisions have had to come quickly and that has not left those in charge too much time to make decisions.
Electricity price compensation is being drawn up
Kallas responded to a question about government compensation for high electricity prices by pointing to the fact that they are not high at all times. The price of a kWh on Sunday was €19.
In the long term, electricity prices will not remain at the level they are at now, the prime minister said. She said the Ministry of Finance is currently working on measures to alleviate the price increase and one of those measures would be to use the increased sums from the increase of the CO2 quota.
Kallas emphasized that those affected most by the price increase must be considered above all. Another thing to keep in mind is that these measures are temporary, because they would otherwise be a burden to the state budget going forward.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste