Government ministers playing cards very close to chest on state budget cuts

First session of Kaja Kallas's third government in Stenbock House.
First session of Kaja Kallas's third government in Stenbock House. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition is being cagey about impending cuts two weeks ahead of these becoming a reality, though one thing which is certain is that taxes will rise, and the state will have to tighten its belt, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Thursday.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told AK that: "We don't have any disagreements as such, but there are more complex issues which will definitely lead to negative feedback. The important thing is that the will is there, and what we do or don't do in the end will be reached once put together the state budget."

The process for the state budget for the following year starts after the summer break with a view to being finalized in late September, for voting through autumn and early winter.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) was able to be ore specific in her statements than most of her colleagues on Thursday, saying that the reform of services for disabled children was one of the possible areas where savings, on administrative costs, could be made.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Riisalo put that figure in the hundreds of thousands, adding that recipients of aid will be pushed between different authorities less than they have been so far.

Speaking at Thursday's regular government press conference, Prime Minister Kallas, said that while huge savings in the order of hundreds of millions were not viable, given how tight the situation with the state budget is, every euro will count.

She also declined to give any concrete examples, saying that testing out ideas just within her own party on Wednesday had reached sticking points.

Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) reiterated that the state will raise taxes, but must also tighten its belt and cut its own expenses. This would mean public sector wage rises seen in recent years would not be replicated for next year.

"We will start discussing what will happen more precisely in the fall, when the actual budget negotiations are underway," Tsahkna said.

At the same time, wage rises will take place for, for instance teachers, police and fire officers, he added.

Education Minister Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) was even more unforthcoming, and submitted a written answer only to questions.

This written answer essentially said the issues are under review.

"We evaluate with a critical eye what we have to continue with and what it is not practical to continue with," Kallas, no relation of the prime minister, added.

The government has called an additional, off-schedule session to be held at the Riigikogu next Monday. Parliament had officially broken up for summer this week.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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