Third state budget bill reading to take place Wednesday, coalition positive
The bill for the 2019 state budget, which includes expenditures and investments to the tune of more than €11.3 billion, is heading to its third and final reading in the Riigikogu on Wednesday.
The bill's third reading will take place during the Riigikogu sitting to begin at 14:00 EET, where it is 14th of 32 items on the agenda.
The state budget bill passed its second reading on 21 November, where a series of unsupported proposed amendments were voted on, and a proposal by the Conservative People's Public of Estonia (EKRE) and the Reform Party to discontinue the second reading was rejected 51-47. The sitting that day likewise began at 14:00 and didn't wrap up until 22:00.
While amendments can typically only be proposed prior to a bill's second reading, in the case of the state budget bill, committees and parliamentary groups can propose amendments at the third and final reading as well. Negotiations are likewise held at the third reading in which parliamentary group representatives are given the opportunity to address the Riigikogu.
A simple majority is needed to pass the state budget in the Riigikogu.
The prime minister's Centre Party announced that it would be voting unanimously in favour of the state budget.
"Despite the government crisis a couple of weeks ago, the coalition is committed to next year's state budget," Centre Party parliamentary group chairwoman and Finance Committee of the Riigikogu member Kersti Sarapuu said according to a press release.
Reform to vote against
Reform, the Riigikogu's largest opposition party, meanwhile, announced on Wednesday morning that its parliamentary group has decided to vote against the 2019 state budget bill.
"We are not satisfied that the government is incapable of anything more than living hand to mouth, even during a period of rapid economic growth, and is neglecting to prepare for already-forecast worse times," Reform Party parliamentary group chairman Jürgen Ligi said according to a press release.
Stalnuhhin: Coalition vote to be united
The Centre Party, Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Pro Patria coalition will vote in unison on Wednesday and the state budget will be passed despite the narrow majority, promised Finance Committee chairman Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Centre).
"Some 96% are funds whose utilisation would be fairly difficult to change," Stalnuhhin explained. "This year we have avoided any serious changes in tax policy and are currently in a fairly peaceful zone. So, considering the pension increase and those wage increases to come next year, I'd like to hope that the absolute majority will win."
The 2019 state budget bill takes into account a forecast growth of 3%.
The bill's volume of expenditures and investments totals €11.31 billion, with a total revenue of €11.06 billion. According to the methodology of the Ministry of Finance, the bill includes a nominal surplus of €133 million and structural balance.
The tax burden in upcoming years is to remain at the current level.
Download the ERR News app for Android and iOS now and never miss an update!
Editor: Aili Vahtla