'Olukorrast riigis' criticizes state budget process

'Olukorrast riigis' hosts Indrek Lepik and Hindrek Riikoja.
'Olukorrast riigis' hosts Indrek Lepik and Hindrek Riikoja. Source: Siiri Lubasoo/ERR

Hosts of Raadio 2 talk show "Olukorrast riigis" Hindrek Riikoja and Indrek Lepik criticized the way the state budget is put together and the cuts it includes on Sunday.

Riikoja said that next year's budget is likely quite incomprehensible for the average person in that it prescribes austerity in the conditions of rapid economic growth and solid tax receipt.

"The parliament has even gotten as far as slashing party financing by 3 percent – state budget support for political parties is set to fall from €5.5 million to €5.2 million next year. So no one could say parties have not dialed back while everyone else is expected to save. A gesture of sorts. However, let us be honest and say that our parliamentary parties would be just fine if the support was cut in half. Politicians could set an example in difficult times. That said, the topic in general is about as consequential as direct investments (so-called Riigikogu protection money – ed.) that people love to talk about," Riikoja reasoned.

He described internal security cuts as the biggest single problem of the state budget. "Both the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Rescue Board are expected to save. Cuts will hit prevention and staff, including people working in the field so to speak, guarding the border or rescuing people," he added.

Lepik said MPs likely also have a hard time making sense of the state budget bill that is headed for its third reading in December.

"Simply because of how it was put together. In other words, it is very difficult for us to see behind those numbers or understand how those lines of expenses come together in the budget. We are told in this context that investments are growing, the state budget is taking all manner of proactive steps but also that operating costs need to come down. And in a perverse way, it has circled back to the logic of the last 30 years that while there always seems to be money for grand construction projects, there is never any for people working in the public sector, depending on state funding. That's one way to sum up the incoming budget," Lepik said.

Riikoja said that the question is whether politicians understand why we have a state and that it is primarily there for its citizens or not.

"It brings us back to the Reform Party's mantra according to which they know how to rule, how to spend and allocate money, while – and they had several years to prepare in the opposition – exactly nothing has been done. The state budget is cut mathematically, everyone hit with the same percentage, while we can see no efforts to delve deep, no change in the quality of administration," Riikoja said.

"We have not arrived at really analyzing the state's functions, what we need, what we need less of and what we perhaps don't need at all, and cutting operating expenses accordingly. Estonia has not gotten that far. And I'm relatively sure that we will not get there in time for the 2023 state budget because parties will be switching to elections mode come spring during which public administration is all but neglected and efforts aimed solely at 2023 Riigikogu elections results," the journalist added.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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