Swedbank CEO: Economic inequality in Estonia bigger than ever before
Although the Estonian economy is doing better than ever before, economic inequality in society is also greater than it has ever been, Swedbank Eesti CEO Robert Kitt said at a business conference on Wednesday.
"Our economy is doing very well now — wages are growing, export is growing, and pension funds are doing fine," Kitt said at the Rimi Business Conference. "But we have to acknowledge that inequality is also greater than ever before. We have people in Estonia who cannot cope in the present economic environment."
According to the Swedbank CEO, Estonia's current economic success builds primarily on business models having become smarter, and growth in investments and the value-added of labor. This, however, has led to a situation in which some groups in society can no longer cope in the new economic reality.
"New business models and smarter industry lead to a situation in which middle-aged men without secondary education and women in their sixties with higher education, whose education has become obsolete, are simply left behind," he noted.
"The Estonian economy is doing very well in 2017, and this could be predicted," Kitt said. "Rather, it was the economic decline of recent years that was a result of one-off factors, such as the sanctions imposed on Russia or the economic decline in our biggest export destination, Finland."
According to Kitt, the success of the Estonian economy builds primarily on smart entrepreneurs and little interference by the state. "We have 10,000 entrepreneurs, who sometimes fail, but they will rise to their feet again after a while and will eventually find their proper niche," he said.
"Our Nokia is that we have no Nokia," he added, referring to the call of Estonia's late President Lennart Meri in 1999 for Estonia to find "its own Nokia."
Editor: Aili Vahtla