Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder replied to the interpellation concerning violation of the autonomy of local governments (No 160), submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction.
The Chancellor of Justice is of the opinion that deciding on the aspects relating to the local government election law – both the principles of elections and the principles of the organisation of local government council elections – is not a matter of resolving local issues. The democratic and uniform legitimising of local governments at the level of the whole state is a national issue. “The said conclusion is based, first, on the fact that the question of legitimising of councils does not belong to the scope of the self-organisation protected by the autonomy of local governments. Second, if active and passive right to vote as a fundamental right is restricted can only be decided by the legislator, on the basis of the principle the of parliamentary reservation, that is, significance. Third, clause 104 (2) 4) of the Constitution refers to the Local Government Council Election Act as a constitutional Act which in its turn confirms addressing of local government council election law as a matter of national importance,” said Teder.
The Chancellor of Justice stressed that there had been no infringement of the autonomy of local governments because, when amending § 8 of the Local Government Council Election Act, the legislator had only regulated the provisions relating to the formation of electoral districts. Also, the provision imposed no functions of the state to local governments. However, the prohibition on liquidation of and alteration of the boundaries of rural municipality or city districts provided in § 57 of the Local Government Organisation Act interferes with the right of self-organisation of local governments to decide on their internal organisation. The internal organisational independence of local governments constitutes a part of deciding on local issues by local governments. “I would like to emphasise that here we have an infringement of the autonomy of local governments which is based on an Act – whether this infringement is a violation, requires additional ascertaining of the purpose of the infringement and an assessment of the proportionality of the infringement,“ stated the Chancellor of Justice.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip also replied to the interpellation concerning destruction of the autonomy of local governments (No 139), submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction. The interpellators wished to know if the principles of the autonomy of local governments had been violated and if the Government had behaved in every way in accordance with the European Charter of Local Self-Government and good practice.
The Prime Minister specified that the interpellators were obviously referring to the Act on Amendments to the Supplementary Budget of the Year 2009 Act and Associated Acts which had been passed in the Riigikogu on 20 February which had provided reduction of the amount of the part of income tax received by local governments to 11.4 per cent instead of 11.93 per cent. In Ansip’s words, reduction of the part of the income tax of local governments had been necessary in order to cut the operating expenses of the public sector which had involved reduction of the obligations of local governments. “Yes, the behaviour was in accordance with good practice and the principles of the Charter were observed, at that matter,” said the Prime Minister.
Ansip stressed that, in view of the economic situation which has developed at the end of the last year and the beginning of this year, local governments must take account of the situation which has emerged and perform the functions assigned to them according to the situation. “If there is no money, it is impossible to distribute it,” said he.
In the words of the Prime Minister, extensive use of the European Union funds at the local government level significantly strengthens the revenue base of local governments. As examples, Ansip pointed out the billions allocated to environment projects, traffic junctions, including especially traffic junctions in Tallinn, urban measures projects, national cultural sites and the KOIT programme. “These are projects involving billions in which benefit will go to local governments,” noted Ansip.
The Prime Minister also replied to nine interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction: concerning changes to the system of payment of benefits for incapacity for work (No 134), the reform the institution of county governor (No 144), HIV and drug addiction prevention (No 145), the activities of the Minister of Regional Affairs (No 150), teachers’ salaries (No 158), availability of medical care (No 164), increase of pensions (No 168), the health care reform at schools (No 170) and export policy (No 174).
The Minister of Regional Affairs Siim Valmar Kiisler replied to seven interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction: concerning financing of local governments for maintenance of local roads (No 142), the problems of border crossing in South-East Estonia and Ida-Virumaa (No 146), regional policy strategy (No 163), social housing units (No 169), the campaign of Estonianising of names (No 193), financing of the bridge of Tartu Ring Road (No 195) and Valga extended rural municipality (No 196).
The Minister of Finance Ivari Padar replied to nine interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction: concerning the European Union structural funds (No 154), distribution of the profit of public enterprises (No 179), a nuclear power station (No 220), financial policy (No 221), salaries in state enterprises (No 222), the stabilisation reserve (No 223), Eesti Pank and its salary administration (No 225), the state supplementary budget of 2009 and economic forecast (No 226) and potential financial difficulties of local governments (No 227).
The Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas replied to five interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction: concerning improvement of youth work and leisure possibilities (No 213), the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act (No 214), amendments to the Pre-school Child Care Institutions Act (No 216), boarding schools (No 217) and entry into a commercial lease agreement with the Estonian Academy of Arts (No 219).
The Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo replied to three interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction: concerning the budget of the Ministry of Defence (No 157), procurements in the Ministry of Defence (No 185) and the military defence development plan for 2009–2018 (No 187).
The Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur replied to seven interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction: concerning transfer of the responsibilities of the state to local governments (No 234), state welfare services for persons with special needs (No 235), health promotion (No 236), medical rehabilitation service (No 237), the extraordinary pension reserve (No 238), employment (No 247) and waiting lists for medical care (No 273).
The sitting ended at 12.20 a.m.
The Riigikogu Press Service
Your feedback is important. Please share it with us!