At a speech given at a meeting of the party's extended board on Saturday, Centre Party chairman and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas touched on the drawing up of the state budget, which has reached the home stretch in the government, and stressed that the Centre Party has not forgotten the necessity of an extraordinary pension hike.
Ratas told his fellow party members that the government intends to approve the state budget bill next Tuesday. The bill will be made public on Wednesday, after which it will be submitted to the Riigikogu for discussion.
He thanked both Centre ministers and coalition partners with whom a good balance was struck together on important issues.
"As you have heard in the media for weeks and months, the situation has not been easy for drawing up a budget," Ratas said. "The Ministry of Finance's summer economic forecast set a difficult task for the government. In spite of good economic performance, there was a need to find areas to save and for necessary activities to be postponed."
He emphasized, however, that the goal set was to not restrict internal security, education, medicine or other areas of importance to the country and its people, but rather to invest more in those fields.
"Quite clearly, neither the Centre Party nor the entire government has forgotten the promise of an extraordinary pension hike, which is important to ensure a dignified retirement for our elderly," he added.
As a result of indexation alone, the monthly old age pension will increase by €38 next year, but in his speech, Ratas stressed that the Centre Party has not forgotten the necessity of an extraordinary pension hike as well.
"Our responsibility is to do even more than that for the benefit of pensioners," he added.
Ratas said that as prime minister, he has been involved in the state's budget strategy and state budget processes, and one has to ask whether budget policy is serving the state and the people in the best possible way.
"I consider this debate to be the most important in our society in the broadest sense, looking at future elections and governments," he added.
For the last few decades, tax and budget issues have been viewed in Estonian society and politics in a very one-sided, even dogmatic way, the prime minister continued.
"During the transition years, we assumed the direction of economic growth, which quickly furthered our social wealth," he recalled. "At the same time, many of our people and social groups were left behind." One must increasingly ask how the value created can be distributed more fairly across various parts of society so that the people of Estonia who have thus far been in the weakest position could also be part of it, he added.
According to the head of state, Estonia has been among the most unequal countries in the EU in terms of income distribution,which is why Estonia sees problems and gaps in its society that now need to be leveled, "Be it unemployment or labor shortages in rural areas, emigration that has been taking place over the years, high levels of relative poverty, or something else. Estonia's new goal must be greater social equality, which will need to higher long-term economic growth."
Editor: Aili Vahtla