According to the head of a company managing the Vao accommodation center for asylum seekers, the cost of one asylum seeker at the center to the tax payer per month is 320 euros.
Maarjo Mändmaa, the head of the company, told ERR radio that an asylum seeker receives 100 euros of that in cash, with the rest going towards services such as accommodation and transport to the immigration bureau in Tallinn.
He said that Estonian-language lessons take place twice each week, adding that the lessons are voluntary and the majority are interested in learning the language. In addition, schooling about Estonian and EU bureaucracy in Russian, Arabic and English also take place.
“Until April, there was a rule that they are not permitted to work. But the law was changed and if the application process takes more than a month, then they are allowed to work,” he said, adding that so far seven asylum seekers have found a job. There are around 80 people at the center.
Mändmaa added that the center was originally built for 35 people and if new asylum seekers are allowed into the country, a new procurement to house them would be needed.
In comparison, the monthly upkeep of a prisoner is 1,300 euros, the minimum wage is 390 and average wage around 1,000 euros, before income tax.