Prime minister: Only Center can solve government crisis
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that because she has not caused the current government crisis, she cannot be the one to solve it. The ball is in the Center Party's court that must say it will not be taking the Family Benefits Act bill further and is willing to look for a solution to this problem and all others.
Kallas said on Vikerraadio's "Stuudios on peaminister" program that the Reform Party has been over any plans to hike child benefits needing to be discussed in next year's state budget with its coalition partner the Center Party many times.
"Center have opted for looking for solutions outside of the coalition, while it is clear that should their plans come to fruition, the political reality is that the current coalition will cease to exist. The reason is that we cannot have a situation where the government is responsible for income and expenses, while additions to the latter are agreed behind its back and the cabinet expected to come up with ways of covering them," the PM said.
"It is just not right. If that is the situation, someone else will also have to find the necessary revenue," she added.
The premier said that while everyone is keen on solving the popular part of the equation, enthusiasm cools when it comes to the other part – that revenue can only come from tax hikes or budget cuts.
She said that the ball is in Center's court after Reform has proposed solving the child benefits issue and all other concerns inside the government. Kallas added that she hopes Center is willing to make the effort if it wants to stay in the coalition.
Asked whether she might consider giving in, Kallas said that because she has neither created nor escalated the current situation, Center are the only ones who can solve it. The PM said she had asked for time to discuss the matter inside the Reform Party before Center entered the family benefits bill into proceedings.
"Therefore, Center still has the chance, while they would have to say they will not be taking the bill forward and agree to find a solution inside the coalition to this problem and all others."
Kallas said that political reality is made up of 101 Riigikogu votes, and if someone manages to put together an alternative coalition with which to assume considerable expenses for the state, in this case, to the tune of €300 million a year, the current government will cease to exist.
She pointed out that 2023 state budget deliberations are scheduled for August or September once the latest economic forecast is in. The PM suggested it is very difficult to forecast anything at present.
"The finance minister (Reform's Keit Pentus-Rosimannus – ed.) was chairing an OECD panel when all of it escalated, meaning we didn't even have the means to run the numbers," the head of government suggested.
Ratas joining the government would help smooth over problems
Kallas said that tough times see everyone longing for a place in the opposition. Everyone wants to meet elections in the opposition to be able to blame price hikes on the government.
Asked whether respect and trust are lacking between the chairmen of the coalition partners, Kallas said she admits there is a problem but tends to trust people and has pursued effective cooperation with Ratas elsewhere.
She said that matters could be improved by [Center leader] Jüri Ratas joining the ranks of ministers as the government must often make split-second decisions which deliberations Ratas currently tends to miss (as Riigikogu speaker – ed.).
"We cannot recreate these debates, which creates the feeling of things being done behind his back. The only solution would be for Ratas to join the cabinet and participate in decision-making where it happens," Kallas suggested.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski