Tööandjate Keskliit

Employers are worried – steps by the government in the second wave of the crisis have been delayed 

The Estonian Employers’ Confederation submits specific proposals to the government for sector-specific support for entrepreneurship. Employers believe that the lessons from the first wave of the crisis have been learnt and solutions to the second wave need to be faster and more accurate. 

 ‘Employers are concerned about protracted decision-making and volatile legislation at the national level. Growing indecision and a lack of process transparency may damage the recovery of the Estonian economy and the competitiveness of entrepreneurship’, says Arto Aas, CEO of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation. In particular, the tourism and construction sectors are currently awaiting state support measures, Aas added. 

 ‘Employers participated in the work of an expert committee set up under the Prime Minister, where we provided specific input to help the government make the decisions needed to support the economy. The legitimate expectation of employers is that they will be taken into account in the 2021 budget negotiations’, emphasised Aas. Proposals by employers on the expert panel of the Economic Development Committee.

 ‘We remind you that the government has permitted a tax holiday for entrepreneurs, which must be observed even in these difficult times. We are opposed to the shifting of hidden responsibilities onto the shoulders of employers, the latest example of which is the proposal for additional compensation for sick days. Decisions affecting labour market participants must be negotiated with employers and adequate impact assessments must be performed’, said the CEO of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation. Entrepreneurs are also concerned about the advance of protectionism within Europe, including Estonia, added Aas.

In addition to short-term crisis measures, we need to invest in solutions that create higher added value in the longer term. To this end, greater support must be provided to research and development, innovation, digitalisation and investment in green technologies.

Arto Aas re-formulated the key issues that should be taken into account when developing the next set of crisis measures and preparing the state budget: 

Precisely targeted temporary support measures to support sectors in crisis

As a short-term crisis measure, there is a continuing need to support the tourism and construction sectors. A deep crisis in the tourism sector is already at hand, which will reach construction next year. A swift solution must be found to rescue the tourism sector through the use of well-targeted wage subsidy extensions or other support measures, in order to maintain critically important services and competencies until spring. We must not allow the tourism sector to fall into a coma. 

Countercyclical investments 

Increasing the volume of public investments is of vital importance if the construction sector is to survive the impending crisis, which will require swift decisions and preparations this year. Without the organisation of designs and procurements, construction volumes will fall sharply next year. For example, in the construction of buildings, the construction sector is forecasting a 50% decrease in private orders next year, which means a drop of nearly EUR 900 million. It is more worthwhile for the state to invest now and provide work than to pay unemployment benefits later.

State support for the actual implementation of the digital and green revolution

To ensure the long-term success of businesses and the country as a whole, it is important to contribute to the digital and green revolution. To actually make research and innovation a long-term priority for the state budget and invest in education. In co-operation between the state and entrepreneurs, to find solutions on how to also make the green revolution work for Estonian entrepreneurship. We look forward to the rapid and smart mobilisation of European Union funds.