Programs of Estonian parties too unspecific about sources of financing

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Money. Photo: Sille Annuk

Speaking at a roundtable of the Estonian Banking Association on Tuesday, macro analysts of Estonian commercial banks observed that political parties list too few specific promises in their pre-election programs and are not specific enough in showing the sources of financing their promises. 

Parties have listed infrastructure investments as an overarching theme of their platforms. Such investments however are expensive and not necessarily sensible, the analysts said.

SEB analyst Mihkel Nestor said that the platforms of the parties rather are sets of individual promises which offer no comprehensive vision. He highlighted the program of Estonia 200 as different from the rest in that it offers a more thought-out idea of what the Estonian economy should be like. 

Swedbank chief economist Tonu Mertsina said he was surprised by the similarity between the promises of the different parties. 

«Very strong consensus when it comes to infrastructure investments, these are all very expensive investments which should by themselves support our slowing economic growth in the near term. On the other hand, it has to be asked how our labor market will withstand it. The labor market is very tense and when so massive investments are made, other fields of activity will definitely suffer,» he said.

«The promises are expensive and it cannot be clearly seen where the necessary revenues will come from. Next time it should be done this way that when programs are prepared, a promise is made that a simplified calculation will be offered,» Mertsina said.

Kristo Aab, economic analyst at LHV, said it appears from the pre-election programs that all parties have stuck with vague talk in line with tradition and few concrete promises are made. 

«Tax policy, the topic of pensions, investments are the places where one's vision has been set out in a bit more detail. If we ask whether these programs will take the economy forward, the programs definitely will not; the economy is taken forward by entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs need a feeling of certainly for development. On the upside, most programs make mention of the introduction of tax peace,» Aab said.

The chief economist of Luminor, Tonu Palm, described the switch to Estonian-language education as one important priority.

«In the big picture, the number one issue for me is that now it is time for the parties to take the step together at the same table, transitioning to Estonian-language kindergarten and basic school education. These are the places where we will be building a cohesive society and giving people equal opportunities to participate in the labor market.»

According to Mertsina, the programs of the parties should pay greater attention to developing the capital markets. 

«The less developed side of Estonian finance is that our capital markets are very small. Proposals were made to start developing them, that was positive for me,» he said.

Mertsina also pointed out a call by the Reform Party for Estonia to draft an exit strategy in the context of diminishing EU funding, which other parties have not paid a lot of attention to. 

As the best pre-election promise, analysts singled out a plan to shift taxation from the taxation of labor to the taxation of property, put forward by Estonia 200. Aab also hailed the action plan for Northeast Estonia.

According to all analysts, Estonian-language education is a priority.

General elections in Estonia will be held on March 3.