Rising construction prices and an emphasis on defense and the public sector in the 2023 state budget means that road-building and maintenance works scheduled for next year will be scaled down, as will some other major infrastructure projects.
The 2023 state budget, soon to be presented to the Riigikogu, is to focus on public sector pay-rises and defense investments, meaning investments into roads will only continue for work which has already begun; no new road projects will be started in 2023, even with regard to EU funding.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE), told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "Next year, the volume of investments will remain approximately the same as before - both budget funds and European funds will allow us to direct more than €200 million to infrastructure construction."
In real terms, with soaring construction materials prices, this means an erosion in the volume of road work to be done, Sikkut added.
"However, the year before last, for that €200 million, we got significantly more kilometers than the following year," said Sikkut.
Jaan Tarmak, head of infrastructure planning at the Transport Board (Trasnpordiamet), said the organization's additional requests for extra funding have not been met. Meaning sums agreed upon in the state budget strategy a year ago are the basis on which to work.
Tarmak said: "According to this, our funds will decrease by €30 million. External funds in the form of the EU Cohesion Fund will increase by €10 million, meaning the currently forecast difference stands at €20 million."
This means that, no pun intended, the tarmac-ing of gravel roads will be put on hold
"The national goal by was is to work on gravel roads more frequently and put in place dust-free surfaces on top of these; , with the current funding we will be in trouble with this. The goal really cannot be achieved," said Tarmak.
Other projects now to be put on the back-burner include the planned new television house for national broadcaster ERR, the Ministry of Culture says.
While plans were drawn up prior to the Covid pandemic, ground was not broken once the coronavirus had arrived, with the earmarked sum of over €50 million re-routed to the currently work-in-progress reconstruction of the National Library (Rahvaraamatakogu) and now has been put back further still.
Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) said: "I really hope that at some point a resource will be found to build the ERR building. This resource, which was taken away for the National Library, was actually not enough to build the ERR building to the end. The sum is 53 million, which the ERR needs for the entire complex build out, and we will certainly continue to stand up for this resource to come," said
Minister Sikkut confirmed that the dividing line was whether a project was underway or not; work on hospitals in the South Estonian town of Viljandi and on Hiiumaa would be going ahead on that basis, along with the National Library, and the extra money needed to continue with these projects would be found.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera, Mart Linnart