2014 budget turned a surplus

According to the Ministry of Finance, the state raked in 7.82 billion euros and spent 7.77 billion in 2014, which means the planned deficit turned into a surplus.

Revenues were up by 206 million euros compared to the previous years, while spending only grew by 36 million. The state expected 8.02 billion in revenues and 8.18 billion in spending.

The growth was led by tax takings, which were up by 8.2 percent, reaching 6.64 billion euros. The shortfall came in the non-tax revenues, with the state only collecting 83.6 percent of the budgeted non-tax revenue.

The state took in 330.8 million euros less in outside support compared to 2013 as many projects were pre-paid in 2013 and the EU’s budget period changed.

Financial profits more than doubled to 184.9 million euros, but still did not reach the level expected in the 2014 budget.

In the spending department, the state spent 100 percent what it promised on staff and running of the state apparatus, but made significant cuts in the investment department, spending 438.6 million euros, or only 64 percent, of what was initially planned. The total amount of investments decreased by 36.6 percent, mainly due to the EU switching over from the 2007-2013 budget period to the 2014-2020 period. Estonia did not fully benefit from the new period, while struggling to spend the balance from the previous budget period.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

Edgar Savisaar unveils his plan to restart Estonian economy

Edgar Savisaar, chairman of Estonia’s largest opposition party, writes in Äripäev that he has an economic plan that will make Estonia’s economy to grow 2 to 3 times faster than the EU average.

If we want to show that we are not a dying-out, sad and angry small country, but a terrific country that has open society, dynamic business climate and is innovative, the first step is to remove the Reform Party from power, he writes.

Read more from BBN

ex-PM proposes a radical reform plan

Mart Laar, ex-PM and current supervisory board chairman of Estonian central bank, has come up with his own ideas of what kind of reforms Estonia needs, writes Äripäev.

Laar who said at the end of last year that he was going to unveil his reform proposals at the start of 2015 and that it was time for radical changes.

Read the key points of Mart Laar’s economic reform plan from BBN.

Committee demands that mayor repays 113,000 euros

Oversight committee on funding of political parties has issued a precept to Centre Party chairman and Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar, demanding that he repays 113,000 euros in taxpayer funds used to pay for Savisaar’s ads ahead of local elections in 2013, writes Postimees.

The committee investigated and determined that “Tallinn moves” outdoors ads which featured Savisaar and cost roughly 100,000 euros, a Russian-language TV video clip aired in PBK that cost about 8,500 euros and the ad on opening of Hiiu stadium were actually ads advertising Savisaar.

Read more from BBN

Cabinet stops sale of TV broadcaster operator Levira

The government stopped the process of selling Estonia’s sole TV broadcast operator citing a change in the security situation.

“Tallinn TV Tower, owned by Levira, is property of critical importance for offering vital services and the transmitter is a pivotal part of the network which covers Estonia. In the climax of heightened tension in security, it would be short-sited to privatize Levira and the TV tower,” Economy Minister Urve Palo said.

She said the 314-meter tower is a popular tourist object which was only recently renovated at great cost to the taxpayer and any sale would not guarantee it remained open.

The government decided last summer to sell the company but leave the TV tower in state hands, but negotiations with the other shareholder, France company TDF Group, which hold 49 percent of Levira, broke down.

Levira owns 23 transmitter towers across Estonia.

Source: ERR News

Estonia’s e-residency program to cost 1.2 mEUR

The Estonian e-residency program is seen to cost 1.2 million euros during the first 18 months, according to initial estimates by the Ministry of Economy and Communications.

“The ministry has sent inquiries to all parties connected with the e-residency project to find out how much their expenditures will grow in their own estimate as a result of the e-residency project,” Taavi Kotka, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Economy and Communications for communications and information systems and spokesman for the e-residency program, told BNS.

“According to an initial estimate by the ministry, costs for the e-residency project in the next 18 months will total approximately 1.2 million euros,” the official said.

As examples, he named a request for additional money by the Justice Ministry to improve customer support at Commercial Register, a request by the State Information System Authority for money to set up support for the ID card in English language, etc.

Kotka said it has to be kept in mind that the project’s costs and income depend on its success and are subject to change. The government has tasked the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Economy and Communications with finding necessary fund.

“To go on with the project, the government decided to set up a project team with Enterprise Estonia. Enterprise Estonia is ready to partially cover the costs related to that team,” he said.

As the next step under the e-residency program the Ministry of Economy and Communication is about to launch a program titled “10 million e-Estonians” within whose framework at least 17,000 e-residents and via them 5,000 businesses are to be brought to Estonia in the next three years.

The program will be carried out by a program team to be set up with the Enterprise Estonia showroom. Kotka, who heads a council bringing together public and private sector representatives, will be responsible for the implementation of the program. The council will endorse the program’s content, goals and operational plans.

The program for 10 million e-Estonians covers six areas: registering of e-residency, developing of services geared toward e-residents, quality of services and support, risk management and security, developing of legal environment, and marketing and communication.

In addition to launching the program plans are to take faster steps to make application for e-residency simpler and simplify the services that e-residents show the biggest interest in.

E-residency is a state-issued secure digital identity for non-residents that allows digital authentication and the digital signing of documents. The purpose of e-residency is to make life easier by offering people living abroad an opportunity to use the secure e-services that have been accessible to Estonians already for years.

E-residency is provided by the government of the Republic of Estonia, but does not bring physical residency or rights of entry to Estonia or the EU. E-residency does not entail any residential or citizen rights and cannot be used as a physical identification card or travel document.

Source: BNS through Estonian Review

e-services in state agencies increase work efficiency

More and more state agencies use self-service based e-services to administer data, thus saving working time and increasing work efficiency.  Since November, the employees of 89 institutions manage their holidays, assets, and business trips via State Employee Self-Service Portal. The first to use all three services are the Ministry of Culture and Republic of Estonia Information System Authority.
“Using e-services has become an integral part of our everyday life and it is natural to introduce them in state support services,” said Agris Peedu, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance. “The savings effect comes from the capacity – the more employees use self-service, the greater the savings for the entire state. The employees are free to use the time saved on routine tasks to perform their main activities.”
Since this autumn, State Shared Service Centre (SSSC) provides integrated service for managing business trips, holidays, and assets. Earlier, the agencies used various document management systems and data processing programs, which caused uneven service quality and increased workload. Currently offered service is based on a common standard and automated process.
“Introduction of the e-services of the self-service portal has generally improved the efficiency of data processing at the Ministry of Culture, because it combines automated operations in a single system. It helps to manage business trip compensations, or holiday pay, or something else. Only a few people miss the nostalgic cash deck and cashier who used to hand over cash against signature. Major efficiency of digital process consists in savings on time and quality,” said Paavo Nõgene, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture. “Eventually, it facilitates the work of many people, and also helps to preserve nature.”
Transition to digital services supports national goal to implement nationwide centralised e-services. Establishment of the State Employee Self-Service Portal and provision of relevant services is one part of the project for linking state support services, resulting in introduction of a single financial software in state agencies, supranational e-invoices, and modernisation of the systems intended for submitting e-documents.
SSSC offers support service to state agencies and aims to save money and time, and improve quality through service centralisation by harmonising technological capacity and work processes.
Source: Estonian Ministry of Finance

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