Ansip criticizes budget and alcohol excise duty

Aivar Pau
, ajakirjanik
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Photo: Ardo Kaljuvee

Vice President of the European Commission Andrus Ansip has criticized the state budget process and the current government’s tax policy in the past. He also recently discovered cheap Latvian alcohol in his basement.

“In my home?! A tax evader’s beer?!” the digital commissioner exclaimed at the traditional EBS Alumni Dinner as its keynote speaker.

Ansip began the part of his speech that concerned the Estonian state budget by saying that while Estonia has long been known in Europe and among OECD countries as a state sporting impeccable finances, it is no longer the case.

“The trends we are seeing are disappointing – looking at compliance with the European growth and stability pact, we see Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland in the lead group, but no Estonia. Fighting Romania for last place in the catch-up group is not something that can dignify Estonia,” Ansip said. He remarked that the reason for this is clearly the government’s fiscal policy heading.

Ansip’s concern for Estonia is more personal – he has felt the effects of the Latvian beer rally first hand.

“You know, I have Latvian beer in my cellar at home. A. Le Coq beer bought in Latvia. My daughter got off the plane in Riga, had her car parked there. She had one of her girlfriends with her. They went and bought a bottle of vodka! And some beer! Ansip said, no longer holding back his emotions:” In my home! Tax evader’s beer!”

The European Commission vice president said that while he will not pour the alcohol down the drain, the development angers him.

“Now, when it’s forecast we will lose €80-120 million in alcohol excise duties next year, while I don’t want to ruin your mood over what is happening at home, it has ruined my mood! I saw on television how the vice president of the Bank of Estonia says that the deficit is borderline, and that it is positive the next government will try to reach surplus again. Where have we fallen? The central bank talking such nonsense!” Ansip exclaimed.

In the end, there was nothing for Ansip to do but to turn to the dignified company with a request.

“Say something, do something! It cannot be that this all just happens somehow!” he pleaded.

Ansip has nothing but criticism for the government, his clearly spontaneous speech containing expressions like “absurd” and “idiots”.

The commissioner explained that it is not his opinion and defended the European Commission’s positions in complying with the stability pact.

During a speech he gave at the Tallinn FinTech forum last Friday, Ansip said he did not come to Estonia happy this time.

“Usually I’m in the habit of welcoming people and telling them how glad I am to be in Tallinn. To be honest, I cannot be glad today. Ordinary people are talking about fiscal problems in Estonia. They all know something is moving entirely in the wrong direction here,” the Reform Party politician said in his welcome speech.

The government plans to hike the excise duty on beer by 18 percent next year. The Estonian Institute for Economic Research forecasts that Estonia will miss at least €80 million in alcohol duty revenue next year.