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Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning closure of Omniva post offices (No. 79), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Siret Kotka, Lauri Laasi, Marika Tuus-Laul, Märt Sults, Kersti Sarapuu, Dmitri Dmitrijev, Enn Eesmaa, Tarmo Tamm, Olga Ivanova, Erki Savisaar, Jaanus Karilaid, Priit Toobal, Aadu Must, Viktor Vassiljev, Peeter Ernits, Mihhail Korb and Mailis Reps on 13 October.

The interpellators referred to the fact that while there are even several post offices in some cities, a rural post office has a significant role in local life, thanks to the services used, as well as an important place for socialisation. In the opinion of the interpellators, every time that a rural post office is closed down, the local people are hit much harder than the people of some larger centre, and at the same time it increases unemployment in the country. The interpellators wished to know the Prime Minister’s position on how and for what reasons such a decision hostile to rural life has been born.

Rõivas noted that AS Eesti Post has not announced closure of post offices in any of its notices. “However there has been talk about postal services moving to postal service points belonging to partners – to places that people actively use,” he explained. Rõivas said that this process has already been going on for the last five years and will go on in the future as well. The aim is to offer a more available and better service to the people. “If we look at the total number of post offices and postal service points then it has remained unchanged in recent years. A postal service point is also a post office within the meaning of the Postal Act but it may not always be owned by Eesti Post,” Rõivas said.

The Prime Minister underlined that the duty to ensure continued, high quality and affordable provision of postal services throughout the whole territory of Estonia has been imposed on the universal postal service provider with the Postal Act. “In addition to post offices and postal service points, it is possible to consume postal services also with the intermediation of mail carrier. For persons who live at a distance of more than five kilometres from the nearest post office, door to door mail delivery is also free of charge,” Rõivas explained. He added that, as the volume of items forwarded as ordinary items shows a continuous downward trend, compliance with the requirements for maintaining a postal network meeting the requirements for the provision of the universal postal service has become increasingly unprofitable for the undertaking providing the service. “In 2014, loss in this area of activity amounted to 2.3 million euro. If a post office receives only a couple of visits a day then it is reasonable to consider transferring postal services to a postal service point where people actually go,” Rõivas noted. He said that a postal service point can be located for example at a shop, or it can be located at another frequented place in the region. On account of the resources released, it will be possible to modernise more visited post offices and develop the provision of services throughout the whole network. From the viewpoint of the state, it is certainly paramount that the postal service is available and its quality is as high as possible all over Estonia,” the Prime Minister underlined.

Rõivas said that the decision to privatise Eesti Post has not been made yet. “I hold the position that all private companies belonging to the state must not necessarily be owned 100% by the state. It must be noticed that one side of AS Eesti Post is the provision of the universal postal service that arises also from the duties imposed on the public limited company. The other side is the logistics business and transport of parcels that can be more generally called “Omniva”, and transport of parcels is not necessarily the core function of the state,” Rõivas noted. “I for one would be open to considerations as to which forms of ownership are the most useful after all, in view of the taxpayer and the quality of the service,” the Prime Minister justified.

Rõivas also replied to the interpellation concerning macro economy and budget receipts in 2016 and further forecasts (No. 83).

The Minister of Public Administration Arto Aas replied to the interpellation concerning the situation and development of Ida-Virumaa (No. 76).

During the open microphone, Märt Sults and Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor.

The sitting ended at 5.52 p.m.

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

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Riigikogu Press Service

Gunnar Paal, 6316351, 51902837

[email protected]