SDE leader: Party not going into coalition in order to make cuts
The Social Democrats (SDE) are not entering a coalition government to make budgetary cuts, the party's leader, Lauri Läänemets, says.
SDE held their first full day of coalition talks with the Reform Party and Eesti 200 on Wednesday.
Cuts will not help to solve the major issues Estonia faces at present, Läänemets went on, in an interview with ETV's Margus Saar which follows.
What do the impending reforms mean for the people of Estonia?
You may call them reforms, but I would refer to them as resolving big challenges for Estonia. These can be, for example, issues relating to access to health care, the large rise in regional inequality, or the state of the Estonian economy, a situation where our population is aging and the labor force is contracting.
Are savings needed?
I haven't reached the content of the negotiations yet, and budgetary topics will wait to last. Of course, one has to act responsibly with the state budget, and there are certainly opportunities; if we are talking about the long-term, investing in agriculture will surely boost the economy in the future.
Aren't SDE's desires going to be trampled on?
SDE's aims are the same as all the other parties' in terms of their status in heading into negotiations.
How will the state budget be balanced?
A balanced budget can be achieved via several means. SDE are willing to negotiate on these issues as well, in order to boost the revenue side. There are also different options here. I would also like to stress that it is not realistic to cut a billion euros from the state budget. This would mean going after pensions, going after education, and we certainly do not agree to that.
However, there are certainly opportunities there for some kind of savings to be made, or to do certain things differently, and better. For example, free public transport could be turned into a demand-based transport, which would significantly improve public access. Whether that will provide financial savings, I cannot yet foretell.
No coalition government has lasted four years in Estonia to date, but you are going out with this ambition. Does this mean that all the activities for the whole four years will be entered into the coalition agreement?
Naturally. It would be very odd were we to carry it out with a different ambition than for the full four years. This is a key ambition, one which allows us to calmly talk about the big challenges facing us, and I hope that we will also agree on resolving some of those big challenges.
Right now, I get the impression that you are not in a big rush.
It is reasonable to calmly discuss things and agree on them first, and then implement them, to avoid any problems later. Given the ambition we brought to the table today, this will take time.
What is an SDE pledge that you will never renege on and that you will be able to tell your voters in four years' time, that you enacted?
Reducing regional inequality is very important for our party, plus the issue of people's livelihood, i.e. reducing wage poverty.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'