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Auditor General Alar Karis replied to the interpellation concerning the ferry connection with Hiiumaa and Saaremaa (No 424), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Reet Roos, Sven Sester, Peeter Laurson, Siim Kiisler, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Urmas Reinsalu, Andrus Saare, Kaia Iva and Margus Tsahkna on 17 June.

The interpellators referred to the position of the Government that, in the interests of the state and taxpayers, it is expedient to organise the ferry connection between the mainland and Saaremaa and Hiiumaa with ferries in the ownership of a state company and to procure only operator service from the market. The interpellators wished to know the Auditor General’s opinion of the Government’s decision to decline the purchase or construction of ferries and to organise a public competition to find an operator together with ferries in the situation where it is known that there are no potential alternative tenderers in the market. 

Karis said that the explanations given to the National Audit Office had revealed that the Government no longer had the unanimous confidence to implement the decision that had been made in autumn 2013, because of disagreements between the implementers. For example, according to the explanations given to the National Audit Office, the Supervisory Board of Port of Tallinn who had to procure the ferries lacked the conviction that to procure the ferries for an enterprise and later to give them for operation by way of public competition would be in conformity with the state aid rules. He referred to disagreements between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and Port of Tallinn. “In summary it can be said that, instead of making constructive and progressive efforts to ensure the best ferry connection, the ministry and a company under its government wasted valuable time on fruitless arguments,” Karis said. 

When answering the question as to whether the conditions of the procurement of an operator as described in the memorandum that had been the basis for the Government’s decision could be regarded as conditions of a targeted public procurement, Karis said that, in the opinion of the National Audit Office, the conditions of the procurement organised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to find an operator had not been such as to clearly prefer any enterprise. “In the opinion of the National Audit Office, the procurement conditions and the methodology of the evaluation of tenders did not give advantage to any of the tenderers to win the procurement. The procurement that was organised organised favours the tenderer who needs the least support from the state to provide the operator service with ferries,” Karis explained. 

“Minister Palo also holds the position that the most reasonable option would be the purchase of ferries to the state or the owning of ferries at the disposal of the state. Obviously the time limit is the reason why things have not worked out that way. As we know, already at a Government cabinet discussion in September, one question was whether these ferries would be completed in the prescribed time so that they could be taken into service as of 1 October 2016,” Karis noted. He stressed that no solution had been reached since 2011 when the issue had arisen again. “The more time passes, the lesser is the chance of reaching the best solution,” Karis found. He agreed to the fact that there are two tenderers at present which is a very good solution in itself. “This means a hope that there is also competition for this ferry connection which has not been the case in earlier years,” Karis said. 

The Minister of Education and Research Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to the interpellation concerning the final examination in mathematics in basic schools (No 422) and the interpellation concerning the future of Põltsamaa Vocational School (No 432). 

The Minister of Social Protection Helmen Kütt replied to the interpellation concerning old-age pension (No 427). 

During the open microphone, Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor. 

The Riigikogu Press Service