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Auditor General Mihkel Oviir replied to the interpellation concerning compensation of reduction of the revenues of local governments (No 2), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas, Lauri Laasi, Viktor Vassiljev, Valeri Korb, Kalev Kallo, Kadri Simson, Inara Luigas and Mihhail Stalnuhhin on 11 April.
Oviir recalled the judgment of the Supreme Court from March 2010 which had reproached the state that the functions of local governments had not been divided into state functions and local government functions. The court judgment points out that the state does not have a financing system which would differentiate the costs of state functions so that they could be covered from the state budget. In addition, the new financial system has to ensure that rural municipalities and cities have a sufficient revenue base for performing local government functions. In Oviir’s opinion, the solution would be that Estonian people are offered services with similar availability and quality everywhere, at least according to a certain minimum standard.
The Auditor General noted that although the state has formally started to distinguish a few state functions and some of them are set out in this year’s budget, neither the National Audit Office nor local governments can see a clear and understandable process, with specific details, principles and stages and deadlines. How the final goal is going to be achieved, is as yet quite unclear, found Oviir. He is of the opinion that local governments as well as the public should be significantly more involved in the discussion as to which functions local governments should perform.
During five years, the National Audit Office has audited most of the areas of activity which include duties assigned to local governments by law. Also, the auditors of the National Audit Office have visited the majority of rural municipalities and cities. Oviir stated that, unfortunately, no well-organised and functioning area of activity has been found where the mistakes and deficiencies of local governments were insignificant or merely formal. “Many local governments simply do not comply with Acts. In order that Acts could be complied with, it is first of all necessary that an Act or other regulation can be complied with after all,” found the Auditor General.
Oviir stressed that actual compliance with the Supreme Court judgments would mean clear relationships with the state for local governments and an opportunity to stop the demagogic debate about the tenths of the revenue base percentage. Considering the list of additional functions, this would enable to substantially negotiate the adequacy of the financing of local governments. “Unfortunately, nor have local governments been able to draw up quality standards for services together with financing needs, or additional analyses which could be negotiated with the Government,” stressed Oviir. There is quite a lot of criticism towards the Government but it remains at the general level – cooperation has remained poor,” said the Auditor General. He found that the state functions assigned to cities and rural communities cannot be differentiated from local government functions unless all functions assigned to local governments by legislation are analysed.
The Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts replied to the interpellation concerning the price perspectives of electric energy (No 4), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Lembit Kaljuvee, Aadu Must, Tarmo Tamm, Lauri Laasi, Peeter Võsa, Valeri Korb, Deniss Boroditsh and Rainer Vakra on 21 April.
During the open microphone, Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor.
The Riigikogu Press Service