Auditor General Alar Karis: Estonia should build the future from its own coffers, not rely on foreign aid

Toomas Mattson | 11/6/2017 | 11:30 AM

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TALLINN, 6 November 2017 – At midday today Auditor General Alar Karis presented to President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor the annual report of the National Audit Office, which focusses on the need to make preparations to ensure the uninterrupted fulfilment of certain functions of the state even when the support provided by the European Union decreases significantly.

During the 2014-2020 budgetary period the European Union is supporting Estonia from its structural and investment funds to the value of 4.4 billion euros. Approximately 3.5 billion euros of this amount is earmarked for the development of education, enterprise, transport, the information society and the environment as cohesion policy support and around 900 million euros for agriculture and fishery. The overview prepared by the National Audit Office does not touch on agriculture and fishery, since support for these fields is determined on a separate basis that is not linked to the country’s GDP or GNI indicators.

Although the initial figures are only likely to become clear in 2019, during the new EU budgetary period starting in 2021 it is likely that Estonia will have significantly less support funding at its disposal. According to the initial calculations of the Estonian Ministry of Finance, even without taking the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union into account, support funds will decrease by up to 40% or around 1.5 billion euros compared to the current budgetary period.

In his meeting with President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor, Auditor General Alar Karis said: “We can’t, in any sense, continue to look expectantly, even demandingly, to wealthier Member States of the union and consider the support we’ve been given so far as some natural and inviolable part of our lives and source of income. We can’t keep thinking that it’s up to someone else to give us money. For a country to survive, its functioning has to be ensured from its own coffers, from money that we’re capable of earning ourselves.”

He added: “I think it’s fair to recall at this point the need to critically assess everything the state’s doing at the moment and think about what’s actually necessary, which has been a topic of discussion time and again. That’s something we should be doing whether or not the flow of foreign aid continues unabated or tails off. When we make decisions we’re helped by asking ourselves one simple question: would we be doing this in the same way we currently are if we had to cover all of the costs ourselves? And before we answer we should take time to mull it over. Now’s the right time for that kind of thinking.”

The Auditor General emphasised that the current good times are also worth using to prepare for times that are not quite as good, building up reserves and implementing reforms to rein in growth in costs and foster the development of new sources of revenue.

Full text of overview (.pdf, in Estonian): Ülevaade riigi vara kasutamisest ja säilimisest 2016.–2017. aastal

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager, National Audit Office
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  • Posted: 11/6/2017 11:30 AM
  • Last Update: 11/8/2017 10:56 PM
  • Last Review: 11/8/2017 10:56 PM

During the 2014-2020 budgetary period the European Union is supporting Estonia from its structural and investment funds to the value of 4.4 billion euros.

Arno Saar / Õhtuleht / Scanpix Baltics

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