On Monday, the President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor received the annual report of the National Audit Office from the Auditor General Alar Karis, and discussed the important challenges faced by Estonia, including the problems of finance, state budget, taxes and economy.
“The most essential remarks concern the competitiveness of Estonia, as the National Audit Office has pointed out that we are lagging behind our neighbouring countries. When we ask why Lithuania is moving ahead of us today, we must recall that they chose another way for overcoming the economic crisis. Economizing helps to survive hard times, but it is not possible to economize yourself rich.”
The problems of social affairs were also spoken about at the meeting.
“Social security has to be approached very carefully. It is a fact that everywhere the increase of unemployment has brought along the increase of incapacity for work. And it is useless to discuss whether the reason is that people had been working when they were ill or that they became incapacitated for work now, after losing their jobs. At the moment the fact that the system does not work today and its creation is connected with too much distrust and too many fears causes serious concern. The problems can be solved in cooperation in the name of better results,” Nestor said.
The President of the Riigikogu said that the burden of social tax in Estonia is at the same level as the European average, and all countries are not comparable. He brought an example from Denmark, where the unemployment insurance premium is agreed upon between the employers and employees, and does not concern the government or have an impact on the state budget through taxes. Or Germany, as another example, where a part of the old age pensions comes through the funds of employers. When speaking of taxes, Nestor said that in his opinion the expenses made for the health of employees should be exempt from fringe benefit tax. “But I also understand the fear that it might be abused,” he added.
The Auditor General said that the annual report does not contain only statistics, but also gives recommendations. Karis also said that the sphere of internal security should be audited as well, and in order to achieve that, it is necessary to form a competent auditing team at the National Audit Office and allocate money from the budget for its work, which has not been done yet.
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