Center willing to drop obstruction if family benefits cut taken out
The bill aiming to slash recently introduced benefits for large families should be retracted, in which case the Center Party would no longer see the need to keep up parliamentary obstruction, its leader Jüri Ratas told ERR.
Ratas said that the obstruction effort, which has kept the Riigikogu essentially paralyzed this week, could be dispelled if the coalition agrees to take back a bill aiming to slash Estonia's generous large family benefit.
"The family benefits bill needs to be retracted. We cannot support slashing support for large families, it is not sensible. It is insensible from a legal standpoint, as well as in terms of consistency of policy – retracting one thing after another," Ratas said of changes introduced only last December.
The Center leader suggested the same point was made during the recent meeting of the Riigikogu Board of Elders (made up of the Riigikogu speaker, deputy speakers and committee chairs – ed.). Center would be willing to discuss tax changes if the current "cluster" bill was separated into four parts, Ratas added.
"As concerns tax bills, we have said they need to be discussed separately, and not as a cluster. The right thing to do would be to have four bills and debate various visions therein. Of course, we opposed VAT and income tax hikes, while this does not merit obstruction," Ratas remarked.
The government decided on Thursday to separate the tax changes into four bills.
The Center Party said on Thursday morning that MP Tanel Kiik has put forward a concrete proposal for how to render child and family benefits fairer without slashing the large family benefit (of €650 for families with three to six children and €850 for those with seven or more – ed.) and allow the parliament to overcome the gridlock.
"The Center Party proposes hiking the child benefit for first and second children to €100, which is the case for third and consecutive children today. We also believe child benefits should be indexed in the same way the large family benefit currently is (which the government is also seeking to reverse – ed.)," Kiik said.
The index proposed would be 20 percent of the annual growth of the consumer price index and 80 percent of the annual growth of the pension component in social tax receipt applied on May 1 of every year.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski