Eesti in brief - 2010-05-19

  • 2010-05-19

An analysis on the social welfare programs in Estonia carried out by the OECD noted that Estonia does not allocate much funds for social benefits, and much of the amount finds its way to the pockets of rather wealthy persons, not the budgets of those who really are in need of it, reports Eesti Paevaleht. Analysts found that 39 percent of the total amount of social benefits distributed by Estonia ends up in the hands of the five wealthiest groups of individuals. The study distributed Estonian people into ten groups. The distribution of family benefits is even more favorable to the wealthier individuals, as 59 percent goes to the five wealthiest groups of persons, while statistics show that the majority of children live in the poorer groups. The 300 kroons monthly child benefit is universal, i.e. all families get it irrespective of their level of income. Since the money going to family benefits is so large, it forms a large part of all social benefits and thus very little money is left over for other benefits. However, for families who are below the median, social benefits are very important, being half the income of three poorest groups.

The Estonian government approved on May 13 a draft law to make criminal records, including misdemeanor records, public, reports National Broadcasting. According to the draft law, criminal records of minors will not be made public. Also, with punishments that have already been transferred to archives, the earlier principle that the law determines clearly who and for what purpose has access to archive data, will remain in force. Free electronic access to the public criminal records will be created. The Data Protection Inspection is of the opinion that such a bill can result in intense violation of the basic rights of people.

While the five-fold surge in the unemployment insurance tax that took place last year has buffered the reserves of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), Minister of Finance Jurgen Ligi does not see any need for any major tax reforms, reports Aripaev. “It is not reasonable to carry out a major tax reform in the current tight circumstances. The general wish is to pile new taxes and guarantees on the labor force, which is very dangerous,” said Ligi. He said that the most important thing is to ease the situation of the jobless. “We have to take into consideration that the system itself creates unemployment: the higher the labor tax, the more easily jobs disappear and the harder they emerge,” said Ligi. There are contrary effects too, he added; preserving the purchase power of the jobless bolsters domestic demand and jobs a bit during the crisis. The unemployment insurance tax increased to 4.2 percent last year from the earlier 0.9 percent.