Minister of Finance Toomas Tõniste replied to the interpellation concerning the extraordinary dividend of the Port of Tallinn (No. 440), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Aivar Sõerd, Urve Tiidus, Maris Lauri, Aivar Surva, Terje Trei, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Jüri Jaanson, Ants Laaneots, Peep Aru, Johannes Kert and Urmas Kruuse on 22 August.
The interpellators referred to the announcement that the extraordinary proprietary income taken by the state had caused a great loss to the Port of Tallinn. The Government had decided not to direct the extraordinary revenue of 57 million to the stabilisation reserve, where it would be used for the future needs and management of the future risks of the state, but to the liquidity reserve. The interpellators wished to know the justification for the decision that had been made.
The Minister of Finance explained that Estonia had enough reserves to face potential crises. “The risk management committee of the Ministry of Finance whose function, among other things, is to make proposals regarding the requirements set for reserves has also confirmed this to me,” Tõniste said. He added that funds were transferred into the stabilisation reserve according to the State Budget Act, and that Act had indeed been observed. It is important here, however, that we must look at the whole when accumulating reserves. And in terms of the whole, what makes the difference is first of all how various funds can be used during a crisis. The stabilisation reserve is the last resort, and not the main crisis buffer, in this context. Tõniste said that the liquidity reserve, for which a minimum level had been set, had been primarily intended for managing potential risks, including also for coping with a crisis. The Ministry of Finance aims to ensure management of national risks so that, even in crisis situations, it is possible for the state to fund its obligations in such a way that there is no need to use the stabilisation reserve, or the use of the reserve is postponed as far into the future as possible.
Tõniste noted that, according to forecasts, in 2018 the government sector budget was in structural surplus and had a nominal surplus of around 173 million euro. “Thus the Government’s budget policy is responsible and, in view of the objective of structural balance and the State Budget Act, also conservative and responsible,” the Minister confirmed. He pointed out that only 46.2 million euro of the dividends of the Port of Tallinn was reflected as revenue in the state budget for 2018, and 58.8 million euro was reflected as a financing transaction, at the expense of which it was impossible to incur expenses, and thus it would automatically be added to the budget surplus. “Whether this amount will eventually be reflected as reserves or as a change in the debt burden, will not change the budget balance,” the minister said. In his opinion, as in recent years, in 2014–2017, the dividends of the Port of Tallinn had ranged between 30–50 million euro, in terms of budget revenues of 2018, there was no extraordinary revenue, but rather an ordinary situation. “Therefore, in principle, we cannot speak of funding budget expenditure at the expense of extraordinary revenues here,” Tõniste said.
The Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu replied to the interpellation concerning disclosure of the transactions of local governments (No. 437) and the interpellation concerning the money laundering case at Danske Bank (No. 439).
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