According to Estonian Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform), enough cuts have been made in the state budget to save the state up to €1 billion over the next four years. However, opportunities to make large-scale savings can only come at the expense of certain services or subsidies.
Võrklaev said, that while Tuesday morning's cabinet meeting was productive, no final agreement on plans to save money in the state budget had been reached . "Today was the time where we reviewed things at government level. Prior to that we had discussed them in one to one meetings. The discussion was fruitful but will continue on Thursday," he said.
"We have agreed that we are looking to make savings. Our budget is in a difficult position. We have agreed on tax changes, which we have been implemented. On the other hand, the state also has to come up with some savings and we have to look at which things we can do more efficiently and economically," said Võrklaev.
Asked whether the task was being tackled along party lines or not, Võrklaev replied that it was happening in "both ways."
"I don't want to openly go into these things. Once we have agreed things in the cabinet, they are agreed and then we can talk about the details," he said.
The proposals put forward include ways to make savings, bring in additional revenue and the divestment of real estate.
"If we put all these numbers together, including the decisions that have already been taken, we're actually going to get to some pretty big numbers. We could be talking up to €1 billion [in savings] over a four-year period. The question is whether there is anywhere that we can be even more efficient," said the finance minister.
Võrklaev pointed out, it is the state's task to provide public services. Therefore, it has to realize that large-scale savings can only come at the expense of certain services or subsidies, such as the reduction in family benefits, which happened at the start of this summer.
"If society's expectation is only to review or cut the salaries of civil servants, then there is still going to be a limit. A relatively small amount of the state budget will be spent on this. However, if we are faced with a challenge, which the economic forecast shows [ we will be], then in any case there will be rather big and tough decisions that will also affect people's lives or services," said Võrklaev.
Editor: Michael Cole