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The Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Urve Palo replied to the interpellation concerning the reduction of the financing of roads (No 406), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Aivar Kokk, Margus Tsahkna, Peeter Laurson, Urmas Reinsalu, Erki Nool, Andrus Saare, Jaak Aaviksoo, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Kaia Iva, Liisa-Ly Pakosta, Ken-Marti Vaher, Siim Kiisler, Lauri Vahtre, Ene Ergma and Annely Akkermann on 5 May. 

The interpellators referred to the fact that, on 30 April, the Minister of Finance had submitted for approval a Bill on the amendment of the Roads Act that would eliminate the principle according to which 75% of the proceeds from fuel excise duty are allocated for road management, which has been applied in the financing of roads so far. The interpellators note that, although, according to the explanatory memorandum of the Bill, this is intended to achieve more flexible planning of the state budget, it is obvious that the real motive for this amendment is the Government’s wish to take funds intended for roads and to use them for fulfilment of the promises made in the coalition agreement. They also pointed out the Government’s decision in the state budget strategy in which the funds intended for road management are smaller by 25 million euro than prescribed by the current Roads Act. 

In Palo’s words, the proposed amendment of the Roads Act would increase budget flexibility, and revenues would be less tied up with specific items of expenditure. For that purpose, the financing of road management will be separated from the planned proceeds from fuel excise duty. “The volume of the financing of road management is determined in the strategy of the state budget, and the amounts allocated are fixed in the state budget every year,” Palo said. At the same time she stressed that the road management plan is reviewed by the Government every year as it is because it concerns amounts received from the proceeds from fuel excise duty. The receipts of excise duty change from year to year anyway. They cannot be forecast exactly for seven years and they are not one hundred percent fixed anyway. “The separation of the financing of road management does not automatically mean a reduction in financing, but gives flexibility to increase or reduce the financing according to need and availability,” Palo asserted. 

In Palo’s words, as the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications, in the preparation of the state budget strategy, she is doing everything to ensure that the cut made to the road management starting from 2015 would be temporary and that this amount would increase again starting from 2016. “When we look at the budget strategy of the state which has been approved by the current Government, we can see that the state funds intended for road management will amount to nearly 300 million euro in 2018. They are going to increase again in big steps starting from 2016,” Palo said. She added that the Government had agreed that no big alterations would be made to the current road management plan until 2020. Later, these funds are planned to be increased and all facilities are planned to be implemented to the planned extent.

During the open microphone, Viktor Vassiljev and Andrus Ansip took the floor. 

The Riigikogu Press Service