The government will not collapse if Reform abandons its opposition to the draft family benefits bill and makes proposals to increase payments, EKRE chairman Martin Helme said on Tuesday.
The deadline for adding amendments to the bill, which seeks to increase payments by €300 million, is 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The bill passed its first reading on Monday, supported by all parties except Reform.
Helme said Reform has softened its tone and stopped talking about the definite end of the coalition if the bill is passed.
"It seems to me that something as drastic as is constantly threatened here may not happen. Of course, government relations have been tangled for a long time already, their [Reform and Center] ability to cooperate has long been exhausted," said Helme.
Amendments will be processed on Thursday and second and third readings will take place next week.
The first reading took place while Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) was at a two-day EU meeting in Brussels.
Coalition partners Reform and Center still do not see eye-to-eye on the draft bill.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the party is waiting for Reform to make "substantive proposals" rather than just put forward opposition to it.
"[B]ecause, in this case, it can be seen that the majority of the parliament wants to move forward with the bill and all parties must take it into account," said Kiik.
But Reform says the draft cannot continue in its current form because it has substantial shortcomings. One reason, previously raised, is that it is not known where the money will come from to increase payments.
"We want to move forward with this debate. We are open to cooperation," said Mart Võrklaev, Reform Party faction whip.
It is still planned to pass and adopt the bill by Jaanipäev, June 23, said Siret Kotka (Center), a chairman of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu.
A bill presented by the Center Party on May 12 would boost the monthly child allowance benefit to €100 per child plus €700 a month for those raising three to six kids and €900 for people raising seven or more.
It aims to tackle the rapidly rising cost of living. Last month, Estonia's inflation was 19 percent, the highest in the Eurozone.
The bill has cross-party support from four of the five parties in the Riigikogu, but not the biggest party and coalition leader Reform.
Center wants the bill to be passed before midsummer in June, Kallas has said the only way this will happen is if the government collapses and reforms.
Editor: Helen Wright