At the beginning of the sitting, alternate member of the Riigikogu Urbo Vaarmann took the oath of office before the Riigikogu. He became member of the Riigikogu instead of Aadu Must who had resigned.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning a potential conflict of interests in connection with county governors standing as candidates in local government elections (No 355), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Sven Mikser, Andres Anvelt, Heljo Pikhof, Jevgeni Ossinovski, Jaak Allik, Helmen Kütt, Karel Rüütli, Eiki Nestor, Urve Palo, Indrek Saar, Jaan Õunapuu, Kajar Lember, Neeme Suur and Rein Randver on 17 September.
The interpellators asked the Prime Minister if he considered it legally correct that a county governor exercises supervision over the activities of local governments during an election campaign. They referred to the situation where a county governor stands as a candidate to a council.
Ansip pointed out that every citizen of Estonia has the right to stand as a candidate for the Riigikogu, a local government council and the European Parliament. A prohibition on standing as a candidate is in conflict with the constitutional rights of persons. He added that, according to law, county governors may not be in any other elected or appointed office outside their official duties. „If a county governor stands as a candidate to a local government council then, upon being elected, he or she either waives his or her authority as a member of the council or he or she is released from service and goes to the local government council,“ Ansip said.
The Prime Minister’s personal position on this issue is consistent with the current procedure. „I do not consider it justified to provide such restrictions but I admit that there is a certain justification,“ Ansip said. In his words, it is usual in the legal practice of several countries that a person who exercises supervision during a certain period of time may not assume the office which he or she has been supervising.
„A county governor is a person who in principle exercises supervision on issues concerning plans as well as on the issue of the legality of the legislation of specific application of local governments,“ Ansip noted. He found that the supervision does not extend so far as to preclude a county governor from assuming the office of the head of a local government as a rural municipality or city mayor after the end of his or her work period as a county governor. Ansip noted that it is for the legislator to consider what decision to make on this issue.
„The neutrality of the county governor is also secured by the possibilities of judicial control of decisions. If a local government finds that its rights have been unjustifiably violated in the course of supervision then the local government has the right of recourse to an independent court. In their supervisory operations, county governors have to be guided by the principles which have been defined by the state,“ Ansip said.
The Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi replied to three interpellations. They were the interpellations concerning receipt of taxes (No 358), the financial support of the Ministry of Social Affairs to materials “Guidance material for child protection workers” and “Guidance for assessing the welfare of a child” (No 360) and reverse charge (No 361).
A photo of taking the oath of office: http://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/2013/Riigikogu/Vaarmann/
The Riigikogu Press Service
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