Center Party whip Jaanus Karilaid has entered into Riigikogu proceedings the Child and Family Benefits Act bill aimed at supporting children with families. The bill is missing the signatures of MPs of Center's coalition partner the Reform Party.
The bill would boost monthly child allowance to €100 per child plus €700 a month for those raising three to six kids and €900 for people raising seven kids or more.
"Four out of five Riigikogu parties have joined the bill that is fast becoming a political landmark," Karilaid emphasized.
Center Party press representative Andres Kalvik said the bill is missing the signatures of all Reform MPs. The draft legislation was presented with 54 signatures.
"Several signatures are still missing, while I know people are with us. I hope we can find more support during proceedings," Karilaid said, adding that he hopes the bill will be passed before Midsummer Day.
Reform Party whip Mart Võrklaev told ERR that Reform and Center agreed to discuss hiking family benefits in the 2023 state budget. Entering the bill into proceedings Võrklaev described as an uncoordinated step that will not have a positive effect on the health of the coalition.
Helme: Perhaps we can make child benefits happen without Reform
Chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Martin Helme said that hiking child and family benefits is long past due.
"Reform Party policies have given Estonia the fastest price advance in the EU. The coalition recently sank a proposal to lower taxes and alleviate the price shock, while we now have a chance to raise child and family benefits despite Reform," Helme said.
"Raising children must not come with the risk of poverty. No child should go unborn because parents cannot afford to raise them. We cannot keep our people and culture alive relying on immigrants and must ensure a positive birthrate," the EKRE leader added.
Opposition Isamaa party leader Helir Valdor-Seeder said hiking and indexing child benefits is an important step that is in accordance with longtime Isamaa policies.
"Supporting families with many children should be treated as an investment in the longevity of the Estonian people. Alleviating the demographic crisis is especially important now when the coronavirus has caused birthrate to drop and the war [in Ukraine] is adding to inflation fears. Looking at inflation today, the changes proposed by Isamaa would help thousands of families," Seeder offered.
Head of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Lauri Läänemets said that the most important thing is to help families cope with raising prices and fight child poverty.
"April inflation of 19 percent is a clear sign of danger considering our relative poverty rate. People have not seen this rate of collective impoverishment for a few decades. Soaring energy, fuel and food prices have affected people's subsistence and hit less fortunate families. Rapid price advance continues and is a threat to the wellbeing of a lot of children. The government cannot treat its obligations as charity to only be pursued when the times are good. It is significant there is such broad consensus for supporting families today."
Editor: Marcus Turovski