The bill submitted to the Riigikogu on Thursday seeking to increase family benefits by €300 million was not meant to break up the coalition — but it must still be passed, Jüri Ratas, speaker of the Riigikogu and leader of the Center Party said.
The bill submitted yesterday has the support of four parties in the Rigiikogu and is only opposed by Reform, the lead partner of the governing coalition.
"We have been talking about the family benefits issue for several weeks. I talked to the prime minister last week, this week it was discussed in the Coalition Council. It did not come overnight," Ratas told Kuku raadio show "Kahe vahel" on Friday.
Ratas said this bill is related to the budget, not the supplementary budget passed several weeks ago.
The former prime minister said he did not want an Estonia where societal issues are directed by only one party. Ratas said, despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, domestic issues, such as inflation, also need attention.
"Must Estonian life go the way the Reform Party says? Is it not the case that other parties are not allowed to express their own thoughts. Is it not so that parliament cannot express its will, it must also express its will," he said.
Ratas denied that the intention of the bill was to end the current coalition.
"But this is not the motive for introducing this bill. These things are not related. It is not our intention to end this coalition with the child and family benefits draft bill," Ratas said.
He said submitting the bill now is justified and necessary.
"Point one, if this bill should pass, it will take effect from the beginning of next year. But indexation must take place on April 1, as with pensions. Point two, why is it needed at this moment? Because if you look at the spring session, then this bill could become law before Victory Day. It is important, therefore, that when the executive power, or the Government of the Republic, start to discuss next year's budget and also the budget strategy for the next four years, that they clearly know which funds must be discussed," he said.
"But the most important thing is to send a strong signal to children from politicians and the parliament," he added.
The speaker said he and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) had discussed the issue on Friday morning by phone and more meetings about the issue will take place on Monday.
The Center Party also raised the possibility of leaving the coalition during negotiations over the energy support package earlier this year.
Editor: Helen Wright