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Estonia’s economic affairs, IT minister survives censure vote

A motion of no confidence in Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and IT Tiit Riisalo failed in the Riigikogu on Monday.

The censure motion was supported by 23 MPs, while 53 voted against it.

The motion of no confidence was submitted by the parliamentary groups of the Center Party and Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE).

According to the 22 signatories of the motion from the two opposition parties, Riisalo has failed to take measures to halt the economic downturn, and  links of his decisions to sponsors of the Estonia 200 party, such as Bolt, cast a shadow on the integrity of the management of the whole administrative area of the ministry.

“Estonia is in an economic downturn for the third year running, with the steepest decline in the European Union. Estonian exports fell by one-fifth last year, and this trend has not yet stopped. This year, Estonia is the only Baltic country where the economy is not growing, but prices are increasing,” the MPs said.

They said that in conjunction with very rapid price increases, Estonia is significantly losing out in competitiveness, the business environment has become negative and unpredictable for business operators. Unfortunately, the current actions of the government are further exacerbating the situation, and the failure in economic policy is also reflected in the state of the national budget.

The authors of the motion said that even though the Estonia 200 minister has made a presentation about economic growth plans, he has not taken any steps that would support this growth plan.

In the opinion of the opposition MPs, there are numerous problems in the area of administration of Minister Tiit Riisalo.

“During his tenure, the most serious data leaks in Estonia have occurred, including of genetic tests and the Apotheka data theft,” the motion read, going on to say that the minister’s decision to stop cooperation with Ukraine on the development of the state mobile app and to start the same process over again cost the Estonian state 800,000 euros.

“Under these circumstances, it is difficult to trust the development of m-elections under the leadership of Minister Tiit Riisalo. Instead of the development of a personalized state, as promised by the minister, which would save money, lives, and boost the reputation of Estonia as a digital state, there has been nothing but the drawing up of a long plan in cooperation with sponsors of Estonia 200,” the EKRE and Center Party MPs argued.

Riisalo responded to the accusations and analyzed the current situation of the Estonian economy at the parliament sitting.

According to the minister, current times are very volatile all over the world.

“While Estonia rose from the previous crises and became stronger, this time there is a danger that this may not be the case again,” the minister said, adding that the Estonian economy has been in decline for nine quarters in a row and nothing will improve on its own.

“We have to make changes. Changes are needed both in the short and long term. The question is not only about the current situation of the Estonian economy, but whether we will even compete with other countries at all in the future,” Riisalo said.

According to him, Estonia’s image also plays an important role.

“In the world, this image is the digital state. If we don’t develop it, Estonia won’t have an image in 10 years’ time. South Korea, Singapore, Ukraine — countries that are already building a new kind of digital state serve as serious competition for Estonia. Digitalization has moved data from paper to virtual form. The next digital leap is to give value to this data, to automate its movement, to offer services and to make decisions based on it. The future belongs to a smart data economy,” the minister said.

Riisalo said that as minister of economic affairs and IT, he has chosen to deal with problems that would give Estonia momentum and energy for the next decades.

“The current crisis is highlighting the points of weakness why Estonia is standing still. We need change and reforms. We have also offered this vision with both the economic plan and the personal state,” he added.

Riisalo called on MPs to discuss the principles of economic policy, which includes many ideas of Estonian entrepreneurs and which will soon have been public to everyone for three months already.

“In April, when talking about the Estonia 2035 development plan, I also gave an overview of the economic plan to the Riigikogu. This is a place for substantive discussion on how to give the Estonian economy a new lease of life. My appeal is to do it together, because rhetoric or political bickering will not move us forward,” Riisalo said.

He explained that the ambition to double the size of the Estonian economy by 2035 is based on two guiding principles: that it would be easy to be an entrepreneur in Estonia and that the country’s resources would be directed to the production of greater added value. According to him, it is a relatively large-scale plan, where ideas and thoughts that have been previously heard and written down in society have been collected.

“When communicating with several entrepreneurs and their representative organizations, their message has been that this plan is good and the direction is right. And I am glad that we are on the same page with the entrepreneurs. But they are also right when they say that although the plan is good, its value is proven by actions,” the minister said.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)


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