The Estonian Riigikogu approved on Dec. 11 at the third reading the 2014 state budget, with 59 votes for and 41 votes against, reports Postimees Online. While the state budget process is never easy, this year the process was especially painful. Besides Social Democrats holding night sessions over a child support increase, coalition factions had to withdraw the plan to scrap a VAT concession on acquiring corporate cars under the pressure of interest groups, which left a 24 million euro gap in the budget. Additions worth 30 million euros were in the budget since the second reading. It was agreed that the finances would come from dividends, the sale of land, income tax, the sale of 4G frequency permits, government reserves and a revaluation of costs. The revenues in the state budget for 2014 will amount to 8.0 billion euros with spending at 8.0 billion euros. Among revenues, taxes and social insurance taxes form 6.6 billion euros. Among expenditures, social spending amounts to 2.6 billion euros, healthcare 1.0 billion euros, and education nearly 760 million euros.
The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund council approved on Dec. 13 the budget for next year, which has a surplus of 55 million euros, reports Postimees Online. The UIF spending is planned at 146.6 million euros and revenues at 201.4 million euros. The budget prescribes 46.6 million euros for unemployment insurance compensation, 9.7 million euros for redundancy compensation and 4.4 million euros for employer’s insolvency compensation. UIF operating costs are planned at 17.9 million euros and allocation for labor market services at 36.2 million euros. Board chairman Meelis Paavel said that the 2014 budget guarantees that the fund can fulfill its current tasks next year, as well, and enables the start of preparations for the disability pension reform. According to forecasts, 114.3 million euros will be collected from insurance payments to the employees sub-fund, and 61.6 million euros to the employers sub-fund.
Economy Minister Juhan Parts said in a Riigikogu State Budget Control Committee meeting on Monday that the condition of Estonia’s state-owned highways is satisfactory, and in order for it to be good or very good, a lot more money would need to be spent, reports Public Broadcasting. The committee meeting was attended by the State Audit Office, Economy and Finance Ministries and Highways Board representatives. The discussion concerned mostly investment for road construction and repairs, including both the fuel excise tax and EU funds. Parts said that the state has to decide every five years, and each year separately, how to achieve the best result with the existing financial resources. State Audit Office audit manager Jaanus Kasendi said that road construction norms should be revised, and the Highways Board planning system needs fundamental change, as it shouldn’t be considered a normal phenomenon that the situation with the roads has gotten worse. Supervision should also be tougher in road construction and renovation projects.