Negotiators dividing the money

Jevgeni Ossinovskile on viimastel päevadel antud lootust pääseda riigikogu lihtliikme kohalt valitsusse ministriks.

PHOTO: Liis Treimann

In all likelihood, Reform/Soc Dems coalition treaty gets signatures this Thursday before Board of the Riigikogu elections

Free lunch in gymnasiums starting next academic year, as prescribed in coalition agreement now negotiated, will cost the state some three million modest euros – among the very first fixed costs in budget leading up to Riigikogu elections of 2015.

As a rule, creation of new coalitions equals added strain on budget due to new promises. Over the weekend, at Reform Party and Social Democrats (SDE) governmental talks, all kinds of vows were voiced regarding the future. Such as wage rise for culture cadre and teachers in New Year.

School lunch for all

Even so, with specifics of said promises – size of wage-rise-to-be and its cost for state budget – they knew better than to name numbers.

«Of definite numbers, we cannot speak before it state’s financial means are clarified. This, in a situation where economic forecasts underline need to be cautious,» said soc dems vice chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski, a participant at talks. According to him, the coalition would not like to find itself in a situation where «such and such» pay rise has been promised, the actual means however smaller.  

«Like it happened with the current education and research minister (Jaak Aaviksoo – edit). Our message is simple: a rise will surely come. How much, time will tell,» he added.

Another item important for sic dems, however, was written down in digits. This is €3m, for free school lunch also spreading to gymnasium level starting next academic year.

«There have been the views about doing away with free school lunch altogether, but our stand remains unchanged: free school lunch is important for all children,» Mr Ossinovski said after talks, yesterday.

As a first joint message, the coalition creators declared: defence spending will be left alone. 

«In guaranteeing national security, Reform Party will not back down. We have agreed with soc dems that the new government will guarantee national defence spending of at least two percent of gross domestic product,» announced squirrel party vice chairman, foreign minister Urmas Paet.

Portfolio-time to wait

According to Mr Ossinovski, soc dems have never set themselves in opposition of the two percent defence spending. «The impression has been created by a lie by IRL, resulting from us, a couple of years back, proposing that the rate be postponed for just a short little year due to the state finances being strained,» he explained.

Today is gearing up to be a deep day of negotiations, as the partners are tackling tax and social policies. The power-coalition-to-be is promising to raise children benefits and cut labour taxes. From budget balance point of view, this is a task most complicated.

«Let’s hope that, come evening, the part concerning coalition action-programme is neatly ready,» SDE chairman Sven Mikser said in wake of the meeting, yesterday.

Minister-jobs will be distributed only after unity has been reached regarding all coalition treaty items.