Minister: Environmental fees hike in reality a revenue-raising effort

Tiit Riisalo (left) talking to ERR's Madis Hindre on day one of the Vihula Manor cabinet budget talks meeting.
Tiit Riisalo (left) talking to ERR's Madis Hindre on day one of the Vihula Manor cabinet budget talks meeting. Source: Jürgen Randma / Government Office

The expedited procedure for hiking the rate of environmental fees suggests that this is not a bill which contributes to environmental and climate goals, but instead a fiscal policy bill, one whose preparation did not involve entrepreneurs, Minister of IT and Economic Affairs Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200) says.

The minister made his remarks at a time when the cabinet has convened for a two-day meeting, to discuss the state budget bill for 2024, which must be ready by month-end.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications approved the bill amending the Environmental Charges Act, but this came with several critical comments appended.

The document, signed by Minister Riisalo, states that analysis of the economic effects of the bill would first need to be supplemented.

"The matter of how much more companies have to pay in percentages for one fee or another is not an analysis of its economic effects, but a description of the expected rise in costs," the statement reads.

"With the analysis of economic effects, it would be necessary to assess, for example, how such a rise in fees affects the cost base of firms, their competitiveness and the development of service or product prices," the comment goes on.

"Does such a rise in environmental fees also spell the closure of some firms, thus bringing with it a strong socio-economic impact on some, rural areas?"

One criticism is that the bill's explanatory memorandum does not reveal whether alternative solutions have been evaluated, nor how to motivate companies to use principles of sustainability, resource-efficient tech, and environmentally friendly materials and processes. 

"The expedited procedure for raising the rate of environmental fees indicates that it is not a bill which contributes to environmental goals, but rather a fiscal policy bill, during whose preparation, entrepreneurs and their representative organizations have not been involved," the statement adds.

Riisalo says that he also believes that the new environmental fees should be fixed for a certain time period, in order to ensure a stable business environment for companies. 

The state plans to hike emissions fees significantly from the summer of next year, but only provided two days, from September 5 to September 7, in which to provide feedback.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook

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