Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and the Minister of Public Administration Arto Aas replied to interpellations concerning the administrative reform. Among other things, the members of the Riigikogu wished to know how many local governments there could be in Estonia in the future and how the optimum number of local governments would be found.
“We have looked at the areas for the provision of one or another local government service, and the service areas tend to be such that the lion’s share of local government tasks can be performed when the local government numbers 4500–5000 people,” Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said when replying to the interpellation concerning the administrative reform (No. 31), submitted by18 members of the Centre Party faction. “Several studies have reached this result.”
At the same time, Rõivas noted that the minimum possible size of a local government has not been agreed upon in the Government. He said that the Government wishes to approve the legislative amendments providing for the administrative reform in February and then present them to the parliament.
“Hopefully then a more detailed debate will arise in the society on the principles of the administrative reform and how to realise them,” he said. “The things will have to be clarified much more by then. At present we are speaking of general principles but then we will really go into details. And I would be very much surprised if no proper parliamentary debate on this issue arose, and I think it is very sensible.”
When replying to the interpellation concerning the carrying out of the administrative reform (No. 19), submitted by eight members of the Free Party Faction, the Minister of Public Administration Arto Aas said that, in the course of the first stage of the administrative reform, the Government is planning to draft a Bill and send it for coordination this year, and send it to the Riigikogu at the time of the anniversary of the Republic at the latest, so that the Riigikogu could, if it wishes, adopt the Acts before the Midsummer Day.
“The second stage will be implementation of the voluntary reform and preparation of mergers which will be taking place mainly in the next summer and autumn,” Aas said. “And it will come to a conclusion with the local elections in 2017. Hopefully this stage of own initiative will be very active. As you know, we will also motivate it financially and provide consultation.”
The third stage of the reform should begin at the end of 2017, Aas said. “This should involve preparation of the merging by the Government and carrying out of the merger in the local governments that do not comply with the criteria provided for in law,” he added. “The process should be concluded by the end of 2018.”
Aas also pointed out that the Government is intending to double merger grants and increase the social guarantees for the executives of local government. “We have intended a one-off grant for the local government executives who will lose their jobs in the course of the merger, and there will be a differentiation: those who have been in the office for less than a year will receive less, and those who have been in the office for more than a year will receive more, up to one year’s salary,” he said. “This is the agreement that has been made by the government coalition now.”
The Minister of Public Administration also replied to the interpellation concerning the local government reform (No. 41), submitted by 18 members of the Centre Party faction.
Prime Minister Rõivas also replied to interpellations concerning the taxation of banks (No. 18), the future of the LNG terminal and Balticconnector (No. 22) and the restitution of property during the ownership reform and the payment of compensation to tenants (No. 30).
The Minister of Public Administration Aas also replied to interpellations concerning the public procurements in universities (No. 40), the financial autonomy of local governments (No. 48) and the maintenance of the institutions financed from the state budget that stem from membership of the European Union (No. 53).
President of Eesti Pank Ardo Hansson replied to the interpellation concerning a plan for the purchase of assets of the central banks of the euro zone (No. 56).
The Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse replied to interpellations concerning the spread of African swine fever in Estonia (No. 65) and the raising of the rate of excise duty on diesel fuel marked with a fiscal marker (No. 55).
The Minister of Internal Affairs Hanno Pevkur replied to interpellations concerning the bureaucracy in issuing documents (No. 28), Estonia’s readiness to act on the European international agenda on migration (No. 32) and compliance of the security measures of the US embassy with Estonian laws (No. 39).
During the open microphone, nobody took the floor.
The sitting ended at 2.10 a.m.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201509211500#PKP-17198
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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