SDE parliamentary group deputy chair Heljo Pikhof (SDE) said on Wednesday that the 2018 state budget, which passed its second reading in the Riigikogu, will bring along a salary increase for teachers and will help raise the salaries of kindergarten teachers as well.
"The government coalition's one main direction of activity is contributing to education, which is also clearly reflected in the budget," said Pikhof.
She said that the minimum wage of teachers will increase by €100 in January, reaching €1,150 per month. Along with premiums, the average wage of teachers in the new year will approach approximately €1,400 euros.
"Thanks to the fact that the state is supporting local governments more from its budget, kindergarten teachers will also receive a higher salary next year," Pikhof noted. "The minimum wage of a kindergarten teacher next year will reach 85 percent of the minimum wage of a teacher at a general education school."
Reform Party parliamentary group chairman Jürgen Ligi said, however, that the Riigikogu's only possible answer to the government's budgetary policy is expenditure cuts, but added that a responsible government would revise the budget thoroughly itself.
"All budgetary expert analyses have confirmed the opposition's criticism that the the state is living beyond its means at a time when it should be saving up," Ligi said. "By spending the risk reserves collected for harder times, the government is also damaging the growth potential of the economy, intensifying labor shortage and accelerating price growth."
According to Ligi, the volume of th cuts proposed by the Reform parliamentary group is €65 million, which according to the government assessment would mean reaching a structural balance. "But as the European Commission estimates that the deficit is altogether six times as large and EU funding is to decrease rapidly in a few years already, the government should review the whole budget and start saving," he added.
"Our amendment proposals only indicate the necessary direction, which is cutting back on government expenditure and nonproductive investments," the Reform MP explained. "In addition, the state cannot assume the responsibility of offering everyone free bus transport with nonexistent money, especially alongside an increase in the price of train tickets."
Estonia's more than €10 billion state budget bill passed its second reading in the Riigikogu on Wednesday. The deadline for amendment proposals is Nov. 29.
Editor: Aili Vahtla