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Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning the Government’s financial policy choices in the light of the economic forecast for the spring (No147), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Rannar Vassiljev, Helmen Kütt, Eiki Nestor, Kalvi Kõva, Jevgeni Ossinovski, Indrek Saar, Heljo Pikhof, Karel Rüütli, Andres Anvelt, Kajar Lember and Rein Randver on 5 April.

The Prime Minister explained that, according to the spring forecast of 2012 of the Ministry of Finance, the structural budget position will be in no significant deficit in 2012–2016, amounting to as little as 0.5–0.2% of GDP and reaching a 0.6% surplus by 2016. He added that the Government approves budget policy objectives by the state budget strategy. “According to the state budget strategy for 2013‒2016 approved by the Government in April, a structural surplus will be reached in 2013, that is, a year earlier than provided for in the coalition programme, and a nominal surplus will be reached in 2014. In order to cover the gap of 0.3% of GDP between the forecast and the objective, the Government is planning, among other things, to raise the alcohol excise duty and to implement measures for improving tax obedience,” Ansip said. At the same time, the possibility of increasing the net debt burden of local governments to exceed 60 per cent of the income from principal activity will be postponed until 2016. The Prime Minister stressed that keeping the state’s finances in order has a very important role in the improving of the people’s standard of living in a longer term perspective. “The current debt crisis in Europe shows that a loss of control over the budget must be paid for not by the next and following generations, but it strikes much earlier,” he said.

While giving explanations also on the increase of the debt burden and the unemployment insurance premium, the Prime Minister stated that the increase of the government sector debt burden results from both the state budget deficit and financing transactions, for example, increasing of the capital of Eesti Energia and contributions to the European Stability Mechanism. At the same time, the debt burden will rise as a result of Estonia having joined the European Financial Stability Facility. According to the methods of calculation of the government sector debt, the EFSF obligations are partly reflected also in Estonia’s debt burden, and its impact will amount to an average of 2.8% of GDP during the forecast period. The unemployment insurance premium will decrease to 3% next year, on the proposal of the Supervisory Board of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Social security funds will account for an increased share of the reserves because the Government will use other reserves to cover the budget deficit as well as financing transactions. In Ansip’s opinion, the volume of social security funds must be sufficient and also grow moderately because, under the circumstances of the average salary rising, higher benefits will have to be paid than is the case today, when the next possible crisis breaks out. In the Prime Minister’s opinion, the state budget revenues of the first four months of this year have exceeded expectations which allows to assume that if the macroeconomic risk forecast will realise in the second half of this year, the budget position will not differ significantly from the basic forecast. Also, the spring economic forecast of the Ministry of Finance received a positive assessment as one of the most conservative and accurate ones. In the Prime Minister’s words, the Government takes with caution the 3% growth forecast for the coming year.

The Prime Minister replied to three more interpellations: the interpellation concerning the success of the integration policy (No 149), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Jevgeni Ossinovski, Heljo Pikhof, Neeme Suur, Kajar Lember, Eiki Nestor, Indrek Saar, Kalvi Kõva, Rannar Vassiljev, Helmen Kütt and Andres Anvelt, the interpellation concerning the proposals of the general assembly of local governments (No 151), submitted by Tarmo Tamm, Eldar Efendijev, Enn Eesmaa, Valeri Korb, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Marika Tuus-Laul, Kadri Simson, Mailis Reps, Ester Tuiksoo, Viktor Vassiljev, Aadu Must and Kalev Kallo, and the interpellation concerning the low purchasing power of Estonian people (No 155), submitted by Heimar Lenk, Marika Tuus-Laul, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Valeri Korb, Vladimir Velman, Peeter Võsa, Priit Toobal, Viktor Vassiljev and Yana Toom.

The Minister of Internal Affairs Ken-Marti Vaher replied to the interpellation concerning suspicions of corruption in connection with construction works without building permits (No 154), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Lauri Laasi, Tarmo Tamm, Viktor Vassiljev and Vladimir Velman.

The Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi replied to two interpellations: the interpellation concerning the European Stability Mechanism (No 152), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Kadri Simson, Viktor Vassiljev, Aadu Must, Priit Toobal, Kalev Kallo, Jüri Ratas, Eldar Efendijev, Enn Eesmaa, Lauri Laasi, Peeter Võsa, Vladimir Velman and Mailis Reps, and the interpellation concerning the planned changes at the Tax and Customs Board (No 158), submitted by Kalev Kallo, Kadri Simson, Marika Tuus-Laul, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Valeri Korb, Lauri Laasi, Enn Eesmaa, Eldar Efendijev, Tarmo Tamm, Jüri Ratas and Viktor Vassiljev.

The Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts also replied to two interpellations: the interpellation concerning the home costs policy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (No 150), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Urve Palo, Neeme Suur, Lembit Kaljuvee, Kalle Laanet, Heljo Pikhof, Inara Luigas, Andres Anvelt, Jaan Õunapuu, Eiki Nestor, Marianne Mikko and Deniss Boroditš, and the interpellation concerning the current developments at the Estonian Internet Foundation (No 163), submitted by Olga Sõtnik, Kalev Kallo, Aadu Must, Viktor Vassiljev, Mailis Reps, Valeri Korb, Vladimir Velman, Peeter Võsa, Enn Eesmaa and Tarmo Tamm.

During the open microphone, Mihhail Stalnuhhin and Kalle Laanet took the floor.

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at:

The sitting ended at 7.59 p.m.

The Riigikogu Press Service