Ministry analysis brings clarity to parties manifesto promises costs

Leaders of three of the major political parties. Clockwise from left: Jüri Ratas (Centre), Kaja Kallas (Reform) and Mart Helme (EKRE).
Leaders of three of the major political parties. Clockwise from left: Jüri Ratas (Centre), Kaja Kallas (Reform) and Mart Helme (EKRE). Source: (Anette Parksepp/ERR)

Political parties' manifesto promises have been analysed, and the results made public, by the Ministry of Finance.

The biggest costs, were they to be implemented, would come via pension increases, road construction costs, income tax amendments, teachers' salary increases, increases in research and development (R&D) costs and healthcare cost rises.

"I wish to express sincere gratitude to the parties that have cooperated very well with us,'' said Sven Kirsipuu, head of the finance ministry's fiscal policy department, in a press release.

''I would also like to thank the other ministries and the Tax and Customs Board (MTA), who have helped with calculations and basic data," Mr Kirsipuu continued.

In public interest

"We started preparing the analysis at the end of last year, involving all parties in the process from the start. We have treated everyone as equals, and have been completely independent in the assessments. I hope that the analysis published today will help diversify the public debate, and will be of help to the government to be formed after the elections in drawing up a coalition agreement and an action program," Mr Kirsipuu continued.

During the drawing up of the analysis, the political parties were able to obtain preliminary impact assessments in the idea generation phase, to specify the content of the election promises on a running basis, and to comment on the assessments before their publication.

The finance ministry published the data as part of its role as adviser to both parliament and government in drawing up the state budget. With the support of the work carried out, the ministry should be better able to support the new government, once it is formed after the 3 March elections, in drawing up a coalition agreement and a government action program, with the four-year state budget strategy to follow.

"We definitely do not wish to punish parties who, in the wording of their programs, have been so specific that the impact of the initiatives they describe could be expressed purely as a sum of money. It was not possible to assess all the promises included in the parties' programs, and this is why it would not be correct to give an assessment of the cost of any program as a whole," said Risto Kaarna, analyst at the ministry's fiscal policy department.

"This is why I would like to reiterate to end users of the analysis results that simply adding together the costs of the promises is not accurate ‒ our methodology handled each promise separately. We calculated the approximate budgetary impact of each initiative provided that everything else remains unchanged," Mr Kaarna went on.

Breakdown by party

The Free Party highlighted the largest number of evaluable covering sources in its program, at seven. Estonia 200, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), the Greens and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) highlighted two covering sources, and Richness of Life, Isamaa and the Reform Party highlighted one covering source. The Centre Party did not highlight any evaluable covering sources in its program.

With the above caveat about not simply totting up party promises to get an overall whole in mind, electoral promises from EKRE and SDE together come to the highest monetary value, at €2.8 billion and €2.5 billion respectively.

The Centre Party, Estonia 200 and the Estonian Greens each promises which would putatively cost a total of €1.5 billion each, were they to be implemented, whilst the Free Party comes in at €0.9 billion, Isamaa at €0.7 billion and Richess of Life at €20 million, on the same basis.

This is the fourth time that the Ministry of Finance is publishing the estimates of the budgetary impact of election promises. The results of the analysis also help both citizens and journalists to evaluate election promises more comprehensively.

A highly detailed breakdown of pre-election promises and their evaluation (in Estonian) is on the ministry website.

The current finance minister is Toomas Tõniste (Isamaa).

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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