Estonian MPs give themselves high pensions for Christmas

  • 2000-12-14
TALLINN, (BNS) - In an unprecedented spirit of cooperation, which transcended the borderline between opposition and coalition, the Riigikogu (Estonia's parliament) voted in favor of tax exemptions for special pensions, including parliamentarian pensions, the Estonian daily newspapers reported on Dec. 8.

Under a draft law which the government presented to Parliament, all special pensions that exceed 4,000 kroons ($1,000) should be subject to income tax. The Parliament, however, favo-red a tax exemption.

The motion to maintain high parliamentarian pensions, proposed by Jaan Piir from the People's Union, was adopted with 33 ayes against 22 nays, while 39 deputies abstained.

The decision not to levy the high pensions was made only a few hours after about 5,000 pensioners staged a rally in front of Toompea Castle to protest against low pensions. The People's Union was one of the rally's organizers.

Neither the government nor the parliamentary financial commission approved of retaining a tax exemption for higher-than-average special pensions.

There are currently 1,900 people in Estonia who receive a special pension, of which 150 get more than 4,000 kroons. The average retirement pension, which in Estonia is received by 280,000 pensioners, was 1,551 kroons at the beginning of the year. Pensions for retired Parliament deputies are about 14,000 kroons.

Under next year's state budget the government planned to collect about 2 million kroons in income tax.

At the same time, the governing coalition believes it is realistic to raise pensions from April 1, 2001 by 60 kroons a month, which means an additional burden of 250 million to 300 million kroons for the pension fund.