More people in the business community in Estonia believe that wages are increasingly being paid in 'brown paper envelopes', ie. not being declared, than was the case a few years ago, according to a survey from the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECCI).
The survey, which polled entrepreneurs involved in the ECCI, found that this occurred across various sectors, where 'the share of those entrepreneurs who assess the proportion of the payment of envelope wages by companies within their sector to be higher than before is showing an upward trend,'' said Director General of the ECCI Mait Palts.
The worst offenders amongst the various sectors appear to be construction, accommodation and catering, according to the survey, with the arts, entertainment and leisure sectors close behind.
''Transport and storage was also highlighted, with 30% of those respondents working in that field putting the proportion of undeclared or 'envelope' payments as high as the 31-50% range,'' Palts continued.
A similar picture was painted by Director General of the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) Valdur Laid, who said that ''we are working to ensure that the attitude toward the payment of 'envelope' wages is less favourable and that people sense that only thanks to the payment of taxes can we access such services as pensions, health insurance and education.''
''At the same time we are definitely also thinking about new possibilities which could help to fight the 'envelope' wage problem in a focussed manner in concrete fields,'' Laid went on.
On the subject of solutions to the problem, 68% of respondents thought it important to extend liability more to employees as well as employers.
The proportion of those respondents who supported the use of stronger measures in effectively combatting the issue had also risen.
''The discussion in cooperation with the representative associations of the various sectors also includes the solutions of online cash register systems, for instance, or responsibility also lying with the contracting authority within a contracting chain of construction," Laid said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte