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Estonia's IT minister would borrow to cover development of personal state

Minister of Economic Affairs and IT Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200).
Minister of Economic Affairs and IT Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Investments needed for the development of Estonia's personal services (personaalriik) may necessitate an additional budget request in the order of a couple hundred million euros next year, and the state would be justified in taking out a loan to cover it, Minister of Economic Affairs and IT Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200) said Wednesday.

Riisalo has devised an economic recovery package, one element of which is the development of Estonia's personal services.

Exactly how much this plan is going to cost, i.e. how big the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications' additional request from next year's state budget will be, is far from clear, as work on it continues. Personal services-related development, however, would cost in the ballpark of a couple hundred million euros.

The IT minister briefly floated the topic of personal services at Tuesday's state budget strategy talks as well.

"Whether we will actually get there or not, work needs to be done on this in the coming months," he said. "It has to be well thought out and justified, and then we'll be able to discuss it with our coalition partners and see where we end up."

Eesti 200 chair Margus Tsahkna said Tuesday that in terms of the state budget deficit, Eesti 200 is prepared to take out a loan to invest in IT development.

Riisalo agreed that an additional request of several hundreds of millions of euros for personal services would be a case in which the state would be justified in borrowing.

He noted that the investments the loan would be covering should support the development of the Estonian economy one way or another.

"Currently we've reached a point where, counting one by one, companies have nearly 400 [different] reporting forms with a total of 60,000 fields," the minister pointed out. "We're working really hard on sorting out this data array; data quality is very important. And then building applications on top of that that will truly ensure the principle that once a company has submitted data, then [this data] won't be requested again within the public sector, and this data will be entered into all reports and accounts that this company might submit."

Then, he noted, the businessperson can concentrate on their main activity, i.e. the development of the company.

"This will require hardware investments as well, so that, for example, the cloud service we use is secure and functional," Riisalo acknowledged. "But also to develop the possibilities arising from AI and integrate it into personal services."

The minister said that plans for personal services will be discussed in more detail on February 5, when the personal services strategy is slated to be presented. Also being developed is an AI data management strategy.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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