Finance minister: Budget saving discussions to heat up in August

The joint ministries, which contains the Ministry of Finance, building in Tallinn.
The joint ministries, which contains the Ministry of Finance, building in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Discussions to find areas where budget cuts can be made will start this month and the situation may become tense at the end of August, Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) said on Thursday.

Võrklaev has asked all ministers and ministries to suggest ideas where savings can be made and proposals are being submitted every day.

"There are those who say cut your wages; there are those who say something could be done more efficiently," he told "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Regarding ministerial proposals, Võrklaev said it is too early to say how much can be saved from specific suggestions. He said some will need a political agreement to be implemented.

The government is also planning a major revision of the state budget.

Mart Võrklaev Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

"We should ask ourselves every day - is what we are doing what we need to do? On the other hand, we cannot put the brakes on for good - we must also develop and grow as a country. And that is where the balancing point is," said Võrklaev.

Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said, in addition to several million euros worth of savings, a thorough analysis of how money is spent in the field of education is needed.

"We need to look at what the state is doing in education, one by one, on the basis of balance sheets. What could be left undone, or whether the money we are leaving undone could be channeled into teachers' and lecturers' salaries. Today it (the money) goes somewhere else. And I don't know exactly what that other thing is," said Kallas.

The Regional Affairs Ministry will make cuts to administrative spending next year. The former Ministry of Rural Affairs building on Lai tanäv in Tallinn's Old Town is up for sale and could reach €15 million. But Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE) has no other proposals.

Kristina Kallas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

"There are several crises at once. The worst drought in 20 years, plus swine fever. Plus a number of other concerns about the war in Ukraine. So I'm going to speak frankly and openly. At the same time, I understand that the national budget has to be cut somewhere," said Kallas.

The finance minister said discussions will likely become heated at the end of August and the beginning of September when figures need to be finalized.

"These are not easy decisions, from the point of view of the ministries and the individual. Someone gets less or misses out, or an expectation is not fulfilled," said Võrklaev.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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