Opposition parties against civil servant salary freezes

Helir-Valdor Seeder, Henn Põlluaas, Jüri Ratas.
Helir-Valdor Seeder, Henn Põlluaas, Jüri Ratas. Source: ERR

Opposition parties Isamaa, EKRE, and Center believe the coalition plans to make budget cuts in the wrong place and do not support proposed civil servant salary freezes.

The Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition plans to make approximately €50 million worth of cuts in next year's budget to start reducing the billion euro deficit.

The coalition originally wanted to significantly reduce the deficit and cuts of up to a billion euros were suggested. But this week, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said €50 million is a more realistic figure.

Helir-Valdor Seeder, the leader of Isamaa's Riigikogu faction, said cuts are necessary but the €50 million will not solve the problem.

He also said to only reduce the budget by €50 million after promising a round of deep cuts is "ridiculous".

"When the coalition initially signed the agreement, [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Margus Tsahkna (Estonia 200) said that brutal cuts are to be expected and that the merry-go-round that the previous governments have held will now end. Such statements were flying around," Seeder said.

He suggested funding for non-essential services could be cut, especially if activities are duplicated elsewhere. But Seeder believes loans should be taken out instead.

"We need to make a sensible long-term plan for managing Estonia's national budget. Budgetary policy is still seen as an instrument for maintaining the competitiveness of the Estonian economy and society. The goal must be a competitive economy and society. If we are able to create this through fiscal policy, then the political objectives of the budget will also be met," Seeder said.

He said the coalition talks very loudly about their cuts, but in reality, very little will be achieved.

"Instead, it is sensible to borrow more if necessary, to borrow for national defense, to borrow to improve the education system, and to borrow to get out of the crisis in our economy," said Seeder.

Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) said cuts can definitely be made and are sensible.

"You just have to start from scratch. For example, the decision to create a kind of commissioner for Ida-Viru County is in itself completely pointless and wasteful. If we look at how generously they give money here and there, even the millions that go to promoting LGBT ideology and to these different organizations," Põlluaas said.

Center Party Chairman Jüri Ratas also said the coalition's actions are ridiculous and thinks Kallas should abandon Reform's pre-election promise of abolishing the so-called tax hump.

"Let's do away with this pointless graduated tax exemption, which costs almost half a billion. And what is clear today is that cuts are being sought, family allowances are being reduced in order to implement an election promise. I think this is a very wrong direction," said Ratas.

"When a country is going through a difficult time, we must also support entrepreneurship and the economy so that production and investment do not leave and jobs are not lost. Secondly, I think it is very important to fund health care. Thirdly, an extraordinary increase in pensions is important for us. And fourthly, the revenue base of local authorities, or the living environment," said Ratas.

All three politicians do not agree with the coalition's plans to freeze civil servants' salaries.

"We can see that the Estonian state, built on cheap labor, is no longer competitive in today's world, and if we think about future development and the young generation that will grow up, this is certainly not the solution," said Seeder.

He also said it is not reasonable to stop the indexation of senior civil servants' salaries.

Ratas said the wage increase must not create injustice.

"If you're asking in principle whether wage growth should be frozen, I don't think so. But what will this wage growth be? It certainly can't be such that the salaries of the civil service go up, but the salaries of teachers don't," said Ratas.

Põlluaas said a distinction should be made between the salaries of ordinary officials and higher officials.

"At the moment, I can't suggest what would be the most appropriate way to go about it, but all of these options should certainly be put on the table and looked at," he said.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: