Major dailies in Estonia are critical of the 2024 draft budget, criticizing it for lack of transparency and vision, as well as hypocritical communication.
Postimees in its Wednesday editorial refers to the document as a "burning budget."
The paper writes that the government has been sending inconsistent signals, and the whole process appears shabby. What little information has been released has been confusing and conflicting. Interest groups have been left very little time in which to provide feedback, whereas they cannot "take it or leave it" as the latter option is just not on the table.
Postimees recalls a recent comment from former Prime Minister Andrus Ansip (Reform). "Ansip said that his government kept the public in the loop on its choices and the reasons behind them during the 2007-2008 austerity calls. People could discuss these matters at home, they understood what was happening and were supportive."
"But if this is the level of budgetary debate today, it is not a debate we want to live in," Postimees writes, pointing to Ansip's infamous remark in the 2007 financial crisis. "It is unclear why things are done, while talk of tidy finances counts for little as it is too vague," the editorial reads.
Eesti Päevaleht describes the 2024 budget bill as one of bewilderment.
The government's messages on future taxes should be clear, stable and sincere, the editorial reads.
"You have three years in which to put public finances on a sustainable path. You do not have to trample on good legislative practice, as was done with a recent bill that aims to stop compensating farmers for geese damage. Minister of Climate Kristen Michal sent the bill out for approval on September 21, whereas the ministry expected the feedback by September 22, the daily points out.
"Another example that concerns more people: Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev said that the government postponed introducing a car tax until 2025 in order to "take more time for public debate," while it turned out just a few days later that the tax also needs to yield almost double the revenue," the EPL editorial reads.
That is why we might dub next year's budget as one of bewilderment, the paper remarks.
"We have been told that the times are so evil that we should only expect unpleasant decisions from here on out. But who is to blame," Õhtuleht asks in its editorial.
"Before the last elections, [Reform's] coalition partners the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and particularly Isamaa were made a plethora of promises that were retracted just a few months later. So what that the circus happened at the expense of more vulnerable citizens, including large families," the paper writes.
"Bemoaning evil times, even though they are of your own making, comes off very hollow," the Õhtuleht editorial reads.
Editor: Marcus Turovski