The Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) passed the Administrative Reform Act. The Act sets the minimum size of a local government at 5000 residents, and provides the term during which the local governments have to meet the new criteria, and the grants for merging local governments.
56 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, 38 were against.
“The administrative reform is the first step of the state reform,” Chairman of the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu Kalle Laanet said. “We must continue with improving the governance of Estonia and finding new ideas for it.” In the end of May, the Constitutional Committee formed the executive group on state reform, consisting of the representatives of all Riigikogu factions.
The Administrative Reform Act (200 SE), which was initiated by the Government, includes the bases and procedure for carrying out the administrative reform, and determines the minimum size of a local government and the relevant exceptions. The objective of the administrative reform is to form local governments that are able to provide better public services to people, ensure the increase of competitiveness of regions, and independently perform the functions assigned to them by law.
According to the Act, generally at least 5000 people should reside in a local government. Today, eighty per cent of the local governments of Estonia have less than 5000 residents.
According to the Act, local governments will have time for voluntary mergers until the end of 2016, and the Government will pay a merger grant to such local governments. Altogether, up to 80 million euro have been planned for that.
If, after the voluntary mergers, there are still such local governments that do not meet the criteria, the Government will first make a proposal for a voluntary merger to them next year, and if this will give no result, the Government will merge these local governments.
The Act will enter into force pursuant to general procedure, that is, on the tenth day following the date of publication in the Riigi Teataja.
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