Opposition politicians scrutinized the government's draft 2024 budget on Monday and said it is confusing, lacks transparency, and hinders economic development.
Former Isamaa Chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder said a lot of work needs to be done and such a bad budget has not been presented to the Riigikogu this century. He also called a debate on the budget's format.
"In parallel with the debate on the state budget in the Riigikogu, we also want to hold a debate on a nationally important issue on the state budget. And not only with a view to next year's state budget, but also the principles of state budgeting in general, the regulations of the current basic law, whether we should go ahead with an activity-based budget or a performance-based budget or a cost-based budget in the future," said Seeder.
He also believes the budget strategy is misleading.
"What kind of a message is it now when it says that we are freezing the salaries of civil servants – police officers, rescuers – and then in 2027 there will be a bigger salary increase of 30-40 percent? What kind of message is that? It is not a credible message. We cannot even predict inflation six months in advance, and yet we are making a promise that in four years' time we will dare to make a strong message on wage policy. This kind of thing is totally illogical and incompetent," Seeder told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".
The parties said the budget's biggest problem is that it will not revive the economy.
Jaak Aab (Center), vice-chairman of the Riigikogu's Finance Committee, said revenue would improve if public investments were clearly in place.
"There is no plan to get the economy back on its feet. Nor do we see a clear program of public investment, relying only on EU money. But the problem with the EU money is that neither the municipalities nor the businesses have their own contribution to put up, which has increased by about 30 percent. Where will they get it? They can no longer borrow. The hope that investment will come from EU money is not very justified," Aab said.
Former Minister of the Environment Rain Epler (EKRE) said plans to promote the development of green energy will not achieve their goal and cost too much
"For me, the skepticism or the fear is that if, for example, in the field of energy, we divert a lot of taxpayers' money to places that are not really useful as a country from an energy point of view, we could be in a situation in seven to 10 years' time where energy is expensive, money is so much spent that it is scarce and it is difficult to reverse decisions," said Epler.
The opposition parties said Estonia is the only country in the region that it raising taxes in the midst of an economic downturn.
The Center Party thinks taxes should be discussed, but they should not increase the burden on those with low incomes.
"While the Reform Party taxes VAT, making life harder for those who already have little, our solution is still a graduated income tax, maybe even property taxes. Perhaps those people with more assets could contribute more," said Aab.
The budget will have its first reading in the Riigikogu on October 18.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera