Even though Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) plans to create an internal security reserve force to help bolster border defense and contain mass riots during crises, the government did not allocate funds for it in the 2020 state budget.
Helme believed it very likely the government would find the money for the reserve force in the budget as recently as last week. The reserve would cost around €20 million in equipment and training over four years.
The government presented the 2020 state budget on Tuesday that does not include funds for the internal security reserve.
Head of the ministry's communications department Monika Viidul told ERR that the interior minister prioritized salary hikes in his administrative area.
"In a situation where the choice was between paying for salary advance or the internal security reserve, the minister decided to prioritize people in his administrative area. The government has allocated €5.2 million for salary advance in the interior ministry's administrative area for 2020," she said.
Viidul added this does not mean the internal security reserve plan will be abandoned – preparations will go ahead.
"We will return to allocation of funds during spring fiscal strategy deliberations," the ministry's spokesperson said.
Mart Helme has previously explained his plan for an internal security reserve through the need to develop the operational capability of special and rapid response units, procure and update equipment, improve internal security agencies' capability to prevent and counter threats and boost general preparedness for crises.
The interior minister finds Estonia currently lacks the capability to maintain order or carry out major evacuations in case of more serious crises.
Editor: Marcus Turovski