Ratas: State must alleviate crises as much as possible
Amid difficult times, the Estonian state must work to alleviate crises as much as possible, including by drawing up a supplementary state budget, extending financial support measures, and discussing the possible reduction of excise duties and the VAT, President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) said on Thursday.
"Times are difficult — security, healthcare, energy," Ratas said in appearance on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Thursday night. "We need to alleviate these crises as much as we are able."
He is expecting a bigger defense budget from the government. "Another thing is people's ability to cope in conditions of high inflation," he continued. "A lot of people who have come to Estonia for refuge from the war need to be helped as well."
The coalition Reform and Center Parties are in agreement that a supplementary state budget will be drawn up.
"More than half a billion euros will be going to security," Ratas said. "The initial plan was to strengthen the Estonian Defense League, and purchase ammunition and missiles. But a supplementary budget should also improve people's ability to cope as well. The state has to support families with children, large families and refugees."
According to the Riigikogu speaker, the government reached a decision on Thursday regarding the funding of the incoming refugees, and plans to build an LNG terminal are moving forward as well.
Regarding the energy crisis, Ratas said that it's possible that the state will have to continue offering support measures during the next heating period as well.
"We can't deny that a new supplementary budget is coming this fall," he said. "I can't imagine that the government won't respond when people's ability to cope deteriorates."
He also wouldn't rule out discussing the reduction of excise duties and the VAT. "This should be reviewed in March or April," he said.
According to Ratas, there is currently no ceiling to the number of refugees from Ukraine that Estonia is taking in. "That would be complicated for us to establish, because our people were helped too, when we fled [Estonia] in the 1940s," he highlighted. "Our people, local governments and business-owners have big hearts."
He stressed that what is important right now is that, in addition to accommodations and housing, language instruction, and Estonian-language school for those who want it, is organized for refugees as well.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla