Several employer, industry and commerce associations on Monday issued a joint statement in support of amendments to the Aliens Act proposed by Estonia's interior and entrepreneurship ministers and urging lawmakers to pass them quickly. The bill includes changes that would affect the short-time employment of both Ukrainians who had already been working in Estonia as well as arriving war refugees.
"The Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETK), Estonian Founders Society, Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL), Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EKT) and Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce (EPKK) are expressing support for the amendments to the Aliens Act proposed by Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) and Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt (Reform)," the joint statement issued by the ETK read.
According to the statement, this bill is of vital importance to the sustainability of the Estonian economy, will help increase Estonian businesses' competitiveness on the global market as well as ensure the creation and preservation of jobs in Estonia.
The issuers of the joint statement also noted that he expeditious processing of this bill would demonstrate the government's strong capacity for work in difficult times as well as be a significant step in fulfilling the coalition agreement.
"As Minister of the Interior Jaani has previously noted, the bill includes several crucial proposals in connection with the war going on in Ukraine," ETK managing director Arto Aas said. "The bill would establish an exception for the short-term employment of war refugees from Ukraine as well as enable those Ukrainians whose period of short-term employment is coming to an end to continue working in Estonia. These decisions need to be made quickly."
According to Mait Palts, director general of the EKT, the bill in question has been long in the making in cooperation with various parties, and it will directly increase tax revenues, which in turn will benefit both employers and people who have been forced to flee the war.
"As the minister of the interior has said, forecast tax revenue in the case of the implementation of all of the proposals is €20-30 million, and this already in the first year of the bill being implemented," Palts said. "In the 5-year view, according to more conservative estimates, we could reach some €180 million in additional tax revenue each year, which clearly confirms the bill's significant contribution to the Estonian economy."
"Considering the rapid growth of global labor shortages, it is crucial to increase the competitiveness of the Estonian economy and to make Estonia as attractive as possible to global talents," Estonian Founder Society president Kaidi Ruusalepp and ITL president Juhan-Madis Pukk said. "We commend the ministers' proposals to increase the flexibility of recruiting foreign labor by reducing the requirement to pay top specialists twice the Estonian average gross salary to 1.5 times the Estonian average. Likewise by allowing the extension of temporary employment up to two years outside of immigration quotas, or the so-called 1+2 system."
"While we are still concerned about the proposal to set a higher wage requirement for recipients of temporary protection than local workers, the ministers' proposals to leave previously planned additional temporal limitations and wage requirements regarding seasonal work are very important to the agricultural sector, EPKK board chairman Roomet Sõrmus said. "These would significantly impede the use of seasonal foreign labor in crop production and livestock farming, for which finding temporary workers on the local labor market is already increasingly difficult."
The signee associations expressed hope that the bill of amendments to the Aliens Act will justifiably be supported by both members of the Constitutional Committee and thereafter the entire Riigikogu and that it will be passed by the Riigikogu without delay.
The statement was signed by Arto Aas of the ETK, Mait Palts of the EKT, Kaidi Ruusalepp of the Estonian Founders Society, Juhan-Madis Pukk of the ITL, and Roomet Sõrmus of the EPKK.
Editor: Aili Vahtla