Prime Minister and chairman of the Estonian Center Party Jüri Ratas in a speech at a party leadership meeting on Saturday said that the opposition Reform Party is baselessly stirring up panic because it has already started its parliamentary election campaign.
"The leading politicians of the Reform Party find that an e-state in the 21st century is struggling to calculate income exempt from tax. They are trying to instill that the government has fallen into a hopeless dispute over the excise duty on alcohol. Both claims are equally empty," Ratas said, pointing out that as the new government did not get the traditional 100 days free of criticism, a calm period of work couldn't be expected also in the near future.
"We speak about increasing the income of working people and the elderly. In response we hear that our own Nokia* is a uniform tax system that in no way fits into the European value and economic space," the prime minister said, adding that when it comes to the reform concerning income exempt from tax, the attempt is to bring discussion from its content to fine tuning, while the opposition is also spreading panic concerning budgetary balance and economic growth.
"In reality, we along with fine entrepreneurs and hard-working people have brought the Estonian economy to a new rise. The international rating agency Fitch in November raised Estonia's A+ state rating outlook from the current stable to positive. And this for the first time since 2011," Ratas said.
Speaking about the government's alcohol policy, Ratas said that they are putting the health of people first and the aim is to decrease alcohol consumption and the damage associated with it.
"Alcohol is not consumption goods or a primary need, excessive consumption of it breaks apart families and robs people of their lives," the prime minister said, adding that the politics of the government led by the Center Party is assessed by the people of Estonia.
Ratas said that the position of the Center Party and the government is strong, because it is known who stands for the welfare of people and who makes empty promises.
"The main question of the parliamentary elections is very clear and fundamental, whether our current people-center policy will continue or whether the Reform Party will return," Ratas said.
*In the 1990s then-President Lennart Meri said that Estonia needed its own Nokia, referencing the then immensely successful Finnish electronics group. Estonians have used the reference ever since to talk about a grand economic success that still hasn't manifested itself.
Editor: Dario Cavegn