Today the Riigikogu deliberated “How to bring the economy out of the crisis” as a matter of significant national importance, initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group.
The Chairman of the Management Board of the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association Jaano Haidla said that the Association was dealing with three major topics that needed to be discussed – investment security, refining wood, and organising the information concerning the field. Haidla applauded the existence of the industry’s development plan, but also called for a follow-up action plan and defined leaders.
As far as Haidla is aware, there are two officials in the Ministry of Economic Affairs who are responsible for industry, although neither is responsible for wood industry specifically. “In other words, the question is what our industrial strategy as such looks like, including a strategy or a long-term plan or a vision of the direction that the wood industry should take,” he posited.
According to him, Estonia has reached a level where 30 percent of the forests are protected, and 70 percent are being managed. “As a branch of industry, we find it hard to figure out if the proportion would be 30 percent of managed forests and 70 percent of protected ones in the future, but it sure looks very much like that from today’s point of view. This means that if we want to retain our wood industry, it needs input, and this input comes from our own forests,” he added.
The Chairman of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group Martin Helme explained that the key goal of the discussion was to map the problems of our economy today, and the ways to resolve the situation. Helme stated that Estonia had been lacking a reasonable economic policy for years. “Comparing the current situation to 2019, Estonia has suffered the most severe inflation in Europe. We have lost around one third of our purchasing power or the purchasing power of our money over this time,” he said.
Helme sees the key problem in the low productivity. “The previous report also showed how we have sectors that have high productivity, and those sectors are actually large taxpayers, large export revenue producers, but are really struggling right now. But if we are talking about the broader macroeconomic view, we have low productivity,” said the Chairman of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group.
The second thing he pointed out was that the competitiveness of Estonia’s business environment and economy has dropped catastrophically over the recent years. Thirdly, according to Helme, the purchasing power of the Estonians is low and keeps decreasing. “This concerns economy, the broader economy, but also every individual, meaning that people have become poorer in real terms, regardless of possible salary or pension raises,” he added.
Member of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group Rain Epler focused his report on what Estonia could or should do to prepare for the future. He sees the social and political atmosphere as a major factor that impacts the energy discussion. “Sadly, the reigning green ideology in the Western countries has led to, for example, even advocates of nuclear energy to extol the benefits of nuclear energy, and yet always add in the beginning or the end: but we also need wind and solar energy,” he said.
Epler referred to people connected to the University of Technology and well aware of the options to generate clean energy from oil shale who still call for the need to generate wind and solar energy as well. “And this creates the impression in the society that we unavoidably need to,” he said.
Epler remarked that if one method of power generation was clearly or exponentially more efficient, the current situation where the administrative choices have reversed the situation in financial terms could not prevail for long. He stressed the need to use those energy sources that gave us sufficient return energetically. “I would just say that as a quick decision, we could actually say out loud that whatever the future vision is based on – sea wind, oil shale, or nuclear energy – but I think it needs to be said with full disclosure today that for the next 10 to 15 years we don’t actually have any really efficient solution other than generating power from oil shale,” he concluded.
The Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to extend the sitting. 12 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of this and 7 voted against. Extending the sitting would have required a 2/3 majority vote, so the motion failed. The discussion of the matter of significant national importance was interrupted due to the end of the working hours and the debate will not be deferred to the next sitting.
Photos (Author: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)
Video recording will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.