The Riigikogu has adopted the 2018 State Budget Act, according to which Estonia’s state budget will exceed EUR 10 billion for the first time.
The budget was passed in the 101-seat chamber in the third and final reading with a 55-41 vote.
The size of expenditures and investments set out by the budget is EUR 10.58 billion, with an expected income of EUR 10.33 billion. This is the current government coalition’s first full-year budget, which reflects the aims of the coalition that took over in November 2016.
Expenditures and investments laid out in next year’s budget are 9.5% or EUR 922 million greater than this year, while income is to be 10.6% or EUR 986 million greater. The budget is based on an economic growth estimate of 3.3%, and includes a deficit of 0.25% of the GDP.
At the proposal of the Finance Committee of the Riigikogu, the budget bill was expanded by increasing regional investments supporting various third sector and civil society projects as one-off expenses with EUR 4 million. The funds to cover this gap in the budget will be sourced from a reduction of the government’s special-purpose reserve by the same amount.
During its second reading, 50 proposals to amend the bill were submitted by MPs and parliamentary groups, which were not supported by the Finance Committee. The committee itself drew up 20 proposals, which for the most part consisted of a number of technical amendments between and within the areas of government of ministries, as well as clarified and added paragraphs of text. Altogether nine proposals were filed for the third reading, four of which came from the Finance Committee. The leading committee decided to not take into account proposals filed by the opposition.
The budget builds on the four major objectives of the government identified in the fiscal strategy that the government adopted in spring: to promote economic growth, to increase the population of Estonia, to strengthen the security of Estonia, and to increase societal welfare and cohesion. (ERR/Business World Magazine)