The government has approved a bill providing a EUR 641-million supplementary budget aimed at combating the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with a focus on the health-care sector, education and local government.
The budget is the second of its kind issued in response to the pandemic; last April the previous administration issued an even larger supplementary budget and did not rule out issuing a second additional budget later that year.
The government says the budget will help the economy and everyday life to resume quickly, once restrictions are lifted.
The supplementary budget was approved at a remote sitting on March 17 and was put before the Riigikogu for a vote on March 18.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said: “The health care crisis, which we have all been together in for a long time now, has created significant, and sometimes unprecedented, challenges to the Estonian health care, social protection and education systems, the population’s incomes, and the viability of our companies.”
“At the same time, the crisis has not affected all spheres of life. As a result, new state aid measures must be for the short-term, but also correctly and accurately targeted. The supplementary budget is a “painkiller”, in order for the economy and normal life in Estonia to recover as soon as possible after easing of restrictions,” Kallas went on.
The regular budget for each year is issued at the end of the preceding year.
The supplementary budget contains measures aimed at businesses, while local authorities will be empowered to invest EUR 96 million to help cover the costs caused by the crisis.
Close to 90% of the budget comprises aid to the private sector and state agencies, in the form of wage support, local government investment and other components.
The remainder largely pertains to operating expenses, predominantly in the health-care sector, which has been particularly over-burdened in the current, third and largest wave of coronavirus cases. (ERR/Business World Magazine)