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Opposition obstructs tax, benefit change amendment readings

Tanel Kiik in the Riigikogu.
Tanel Kiik in the Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Opposition parties Center, EKRE, and Isamaa are obstructing the passing of amendments to bills that will increase taxes and reduce benefits. This is the largest obstruction to have happened in the Riigikogu so far, MPs say.

MPs are delaying the work of the Riigikogu by asking questions and suspending the agenda. The Riigikogu session can last until midnight at the latest.

On Monday, the government confirmed its plans to raise taxes and sent the amendments to the parliament. The coalition plans to raise taxes over the coming years, including VAT and excise duties. It will also raise the tax-free minimum income level for all workers but cut benefits to large families by €200.

But opposition parties are trying to block the legislation.

"The opposition parties in the Riigikogu oppose cuts to family allowances and the tax package that the government hopes to push through parliament as a single bill. In these difficult times, in the midst of demographic decline, it is unacceptable to save money at the expense of families and to channel it, through tax changes, to the section of the population that can manage well for itself," said the Center Party's Tanel Kiik.

"Members of the Riigikogu have prepared a lot of questions and bills and take the opportunity to present them for two minutes at the podium. We will do this for as long as it takes," said Kiik.

Reports and draft laws can be presented in an unlimited number and collectively, he said.

"Our aim is for the government to come to its senses and stop the plan to cut family benefits and review the tax package that taxes low- and middle-wage earners and leaves more money in the hands of people earning above average wages. These are the expectations for the government," Kiik said.

It will likely not be possible to approve the parliament's agenda this week.

"In the event that the Riigikogu's weekly agenda is not approved, a meeting of the Riigikogu's Council must be held. Then it will be possible to exchange ideas on how to break the deadlock," the member of parliament said.

He said the government had no interest in holding a debate on the issue. 

"Not enough time has been left for feedback and the Excel spreadsheets are already ready," added Kiik.

Opposition parties have never organized an obstruction of this size before, Kiik said.

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Editor: Mari Peegel, Madis Hindre, Helen Wright

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