Estonia's 2024 budget will have revenues of €16.8 billion and expenses of €17.7 billion the Ministry of Finance confirmed on Monday. Former ministers say the budget is both vague and late.
Revenues will rise from €15.6 billion to €16.8 billion, and costs from €16.8 billion to €17.7 billion, Aktuaalne kaamera reported.
Expenses do not take into account investments which totaled €756 million in 2023, but the ministry has yet to give a final amount for 2024.
"The finalization of the budget, especially between ministries, has been ongoing until the last [couple of] hours. Last week we made the "political decisions", we got an agreement, and from there the technical work carried on between ministries, and that is why we have not been able to reveal all the numbers," said Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform).
Coalition members Eesti 200 and SDE know the total figure but have not yet seen the budget.
"I understand that we will get it tonight. And we can read it through the night and then discuss it all in government tomorrow. The reality is that we, the members of the government, do not know what to say about this in detail yet," said Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE), adding this is an unprecedented situation.
The government must send the finalized budget to the Riigikogu at the end of the month.
Former finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE), said the budget must be completed with 10 days to spare. This makes the current situation abnormal, he said.
"Surely, the government should have known the main framework of the budget a long time ago, what the foreseeable expenditure is and what the foreseeable revenue is – the final number, the volume number. This is what the budget negotiations are about, how to fit within these limits," Helme said.
"It is true that once the political agreement is locked in, officials need at least three or four working days to formalize it, but formalization can only take place once officials know exactly what the agreement is about," he added.
Former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the budget.
"I have not been satisfied because there is a lot of ambiguity. I see that the prime minister, together with the minister of finance, has got to the point where we are searching for taxes in Estonia, and I am sorry to say, without irony, that it seems to me that this kind of inclusive taxation has unraveled under the leadership of the Reform Party," Ratas said.
Former Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi (Reform) said only surplus budgets were drawn up under his leadership.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera