Vambola Paavo Estonia needs a restart in the economy

Vambola Paavo
, journalist
Vambola Paavo.
Vambola Paavo. Photo: Kristjan Teedema
  • Estonia should invest more in roads.
  • Our e-state has been built on sand.
  • Insane sums of money are being wasted in Estonia.

​Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology Tiit Riisalo wants to take the e-government to a new level, with a wish to borrow 200 million for this purpose. Getting married, divorcing, finding a kindergarten place and paying bills with a few mouse clicks is convenient, but there are more important issues to deal with. We have sown money in the e-state, but the results are poor, writes journalist Vambola Paavo.

Such a luxury can be afforded by a rich country, not by us, who struggle with a lack of money. In order to balance the state budget, the Reform Party reduced family and child allowances, while pensions will be targeted from next year.

We are constantly engaged in spending, perhaps we have enough of all kinds of apps and money moving already. A recent sad example is the failure of the EIS [exam information system – ed.] during high school entrance exams. Everything was supposed to work, but somewhere someone didn't do an additional check and the thing crashed and burned. Carrying out the EIS admission tests electronically also required money, and not a small sum.

At the same time, the economy is waiting to be properly jumpstarted, not investment in dubious experiments. The state has stubbornly ignored road funding, while preparing this year's state budget, it was turned into a place of saving. There is no additional money for roads foreseen in the future either. New roads will remain unbuilt. Roads are the arteries of connections at any given time. A wise man invests there. For example, after the economic crisis of 1929-1933, the construction of railways and highways in Germany was the engine that got the economy going. We tend to ignore old truths.

We have promised to make major routes safer by 2030, but we are moving forward at a snail’s pace. The government still does not dare to make a decision about the Haapsalu railway and it is being passed around like a hot potato. A wise man would build out the nearly 40-kilometer road between Mäo and Põltsamaa in the coming years. The route corridor was established decades ago. We would finally have a safe road along two-thirds of the section between Tallinn and Tartu. Thousands of taxpayers have been involved in accidents there over the decades.

We have promised to make major routes safer by 2030, but we are moving forward at a snail’s pace.

Via Baltica is also awaiting modernization. Construction prices have already fallen and this can be done at a lower price. Left in the dark, road builders are already packing up their equipment and men are scattering. Finding builders will be difficult in the future. By building new roads, the state would get tax money and create jobs. Redundancies do not generate revenue. The information technology minister has not found three million for the country’s participation in the World Expo in Osaka next year. Countries are working hard to get there, but we are letting the opportunity get away. In the future, hundreds of millions, if not billions, in investments may come from rapidly developing Asia and Arabia. The country needs a restart and a pull back onto the right track. Ministers are turning a deaf ear to businessmen's recommendations.

Only Isamaa has so far dared to talk about jumpstarting the economy, the rest prefer to remain silent. Cutbacks do not move life forward. Child allowances have been zeroed out, pensions will be targeted from next year. The younger generation does not see a future in an austerity society, they are leaving and knowledge is being taken elsewhere.