All three coalition parties are in agreement that the 2023 state budget, due to be sent to the Riigikogu in a month, must, despite growing inflation in other areas, also bring a significant salary increases to public sector workers, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Tuesday.
Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) told AK that: "If we are talking at all about the salary fund for those people who receive salaries from the state budget, then this cost is already €1.6 billion, meaning that each and every percentage point in overall growth equates to quite a major cost entry in terms of the budget."
The state budget is to be approved by the cabinet during the last week of September, then will be sent to the Riigikogu as per standard procedure.
Education Minister Tõnis Lukas said his goal is to hike the salary of educational workers to the same level as those other specialists who hold a master's degree, i.e. to €2,000, in the coming years, though admitted that this goal is still a long way off.
He said: "The hike that I am requesting for next year is similar to what was discussed in the spring, meaning a 15 percent salary increase, though at that time there had been no hyperinflation."
Lukas remained optimistic that funding will be found for areas under his responsibility, as did Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE).
The latter told AK that: "The goal is that wages for first responders will continue to be 1.2 of the Estonian average over four years. Next year, this would mean a salary increase of several hundred euros [per month] for these people."
Läänemets' ministry is asking for €60 million for this purpose.
Meanwhile the finance minister conceded that education, culture, social and emergency services' workers' salaries had lagged behind for some time now, and will be due for a wage rise.
After defense spending, these wage rises are one of the main focuses of the budget talks, Pentus-Rosimannus added.
All this will necessitate a budgetary deficit at state level, she said, putting this at around 3.5 percent for 2023.
Editor: Andrew Whyte