The supplementary state budget being drawn up by the Reform-Center coalition in response to the current defense and security situation will be worth around €600-€800 million, finance minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) says.
The minister said: "The additional budget will be in the order of €600-€800 million and will be aimed at extraordinary needs, which cannot be avoided due to the effects of the war started by Putin."
The supplementary budget will be divided broadly into three components, she said.
First, spending on defense and security, at a cost of €200-€250 million, second, relating to the immediate effects of the conflict – bolstering the education system and providing temporary accommodation and supplies for refugees. This component is budgeted also at €200-€250 million, Pentus-Rosimannus said.
The third aspect to the supplementary budget relates to the plan to de-couple from dependence on Russian natural gas supplies by putting in place a liquified natural gas (LNG) floating terminal in Paldski, budgeted at €170-€230 million.
The government issued two supplementary budgets in 2020 and 2021 respectively, in response to the Covid pandemic.
The annual state budget is drafted in autumn with a view to passing by year-end, in advance of the year it relates to.
Culture minister: Public broadcaster should receive more funding for Estonian-language aspect
Pentus-Rosimannus also stated Thursday that public broadcaster ERR will not be receiving any additional funding for Estonian-language content, unlike the Russian- and English-language portals, in light of the war and the additional coverage required, as well as for covering soaring energy costs from last autumn onward.
Culture minister Tiit Terik (Center) however says that additional funding is also needed for both of these purposes.
Terik said: "The work done by the national broadcaster in covering the events of the Ukrainian war and un-packing the context has been of a high standard. As Minister of Culture, I am aware of the need for broadcasting budgets in the current situation, where, following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the volume of current affairs programs has increased significantly."
ERR falls under the culture ministry's remit.
"Thus far, additional money has been allocated from the state budget to cover the costs of the Russian- and English-language editing at the national broadcaster, but it is also necessary to find finding for the costs incurred in creating additional programs in Estonian. At the same time, energy costs have increased," Terik went on.
Terik added that he had spoken both to Roose and to ERR's supervisory board chair Rein Veidemann on the matter.
ERR Board Chair Erik Roose concurs that a solution is needed.
Roose said: "Right now, I would like to compare the situation to one where the Minister of Education is given funding towards a Russian-language school, but in the case of extra funding for an Estonian-language school, the line is that you have already received something."
"It is in the interests of all that the culture and finance ministers can find an adequate solution for our concerns," he added.
Energy price inflation in recent months has led to additional costs to ERR of €1 million which have not been budgeted for for 2022, while the additional broadcasts, the posting of correspondents and staff overtime resulting from the Ukraine war have cost an extra €300,000 across TV, radio and online news, with this figure growing daily, Roose went on, and these costs are requested from the supplementary budget being prepared.
Finance minister: ERR has done a good job in situation so far, no further funding needed at this stage
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said Thursday that: "ERR has done, very well, a highly important job during this crisis, and I think that the national broadcaster is the source that the public trusts the most," adding that the media as a whole in Estonia was trusted, a vital consideration in the current situation.
"ERR has also recently been allocated money from the government's reserve fund to cover additional security needs," she added.
"As a result, I am sure that it has met its intended and necessary use in every way. With an additional budget in addition to that already allocated, no additional money is currently planned," she went on.
Tiit Terik said he had submitted the budgetary requirements to the finance minister, adding that while the required funding had not yet been included in supplementary budget negotiations, the talks are ongoing.
Rising energy prices have outstripped the basic budgets of the culture ministry's institutions, Terik added, and said that this topic would be returned to in the autumn, during the 2023 state budget talks.
Media reports shortly after the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 said that €1.4 million was to be allocated to ERR's Russian- and English-language services. While ERR in Russian includes TV channel ETV+ and radio channel Raadio 4, English-language news on ERR is online-only.
Editor: Andrew Whyte