Prime Minister Jüri Ratas says that his government has no plans to make redundancies at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) or any other state departments. The announcement followed claims by PPA chief Elnar Vaher that as many as 150 redundancies would be made from its personnel as part of a cost-cutting measure of around €6 million.
“During the budget strategy debate in spring, the government decided not to lay off people in the areas of internal security and medicine. Nor has the government given any message that redundancies need to be made, although savings do need to be made,” the Prime Minister said at the regular Thursday morning press conference, ERR’s online news in Estonian reports.
Ratas added that this austerity plan is to be discussed by the government in the autumn, when the summer budget forecast period ends, and discussions on the 2020 state budget begin.
“At that time, more detailed plans will be made, and specific austerity points will be reviewed in September,” Ratas added.
The interior ministry had already rejected the claims that PPA redundancies were imminent, which news portal Delfi reported Wednesday after an internal PPA communication was leaked.
Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE), deputizing for his father, interior minister Mart Helme told ERR on Wednesday that no redundancies were to be made, adding that there was no substance in the claim that the ministry wanted to set up a new home defense reserve unit, as reported in daily Postimees. Helme said that the PPA chief was using his staff as a “human shield” and that investment into the PPA was a key priority.
The prime minister also denied €20 million had been allocated for a proposed home defense unit, adding that further training of border guards was required.
Nevertheless, the establishment of a home defense unit, which would potentially be tasked with crowd control according to some reports, had been agreed in the coalition pact between Centre, the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, shortly before the coalition took up office in late April.
“It is clear that some savings need to be made. Martin Helme is working hard on preparing the state budget,” Ratas continued, in response to a press question about Helme’s rebuttal of the PPA chief’s claims. EKRE MEP Jaak Madison had also echoed the line, saying Vaher had been stoking up fear.