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The Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning the regional administration reform, submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Arvo Sarapuu, Toomas Varek and Jaak Aab on 11 October. The interpellators enquired whether the Government was planning to dissolve county governments and the institution of county governor, and what the new pattern of regional administration was like.

The Prime Minister explained that a relevant discussion on the subject was being held at the moment with the public, the representatives of all local governments and county and national associations, as well as with parliamentary factions of coalition parties. After analysing of the submitted proposals, the time schedule and the further action plan would be outlined, which would include, among other things, the terms for submission of necessary Bills. According to the Government’s action programme for 2007–2011, the Minister of Regional Affairs is going to submit the concept of regional management level to the Government in the fourth quarter of the next year. “The proposed organisation of the functions of regional administration will neither increase nor reduce the centralisation of public services. The objective is a qualitative improvement of the services which are provided at the county level,” Ansip affirmed. “Personally, I am definitely not planning to change the number of counties in Estonia. Counties will be counties. The existing county governments are going to pay increasingly more attention to the exercise of supervision in the name of the state, while local government associations, that is, county local government associations will have to stand for county development,” said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning Rail Baltica, submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Kalev Kallo, Helle Kalda, Olga Sõtnik, Arvo Sarapuu, Aivar Riisalu, Heimar Lenk, Tiit Kuusmik, Valeri Korb and Inara Luigas on 15 October. The interpellators wished to know whether the Government had a specific plan which would guarantee the sustainable development of the Eesti Raudtee Ltd and would ensure its ability to update the infrastructure.

The Prime Minister said that the Government had discussed the new business plan of the Eesti Raudtee Ltd on 15 October and that it had taken note of the information provided. “The realisation of the said business plan will secure sustainable development of Eesti Raudtee Ltd and its ability to update the railway infrastructure,” Ansip confirmed. The Government is not excluding the possibility of deciding, for example, to reinvest the expected profit of future periods of the enterprise in the enterprise, with a view to supporting the development of Eesti Raudtee Ltd. Also, at the meeting of the transit committee operating at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications on 17 September, a decision was made to establish a working group of experts which hopefully will draft the primary renewed main focuses of the transit development strategy by mid-November which will serve as a basis for outlining of the further action plan.

The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning the Keila Hospital, submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Jaak Aab, Aivar Riisalu, Heimar Lenk, Valeri Korb, Eldar Efendijev, Helle Kalda, Nelli Privalova, Olga Sõtnik and Marika Tuus on 17 October. The interpellators asserted that the Foundation North-Estonia Regional Hospital had decided to expropriate a hospital belonging to its structure, the Keila Hospital with 200 beds, where nursing care, follow-up treatment, as well as treatment of patients with pulmonological diseases and of psychogeriatric patients is provided.

Ansip explained that the objective of the Ministry of Social Affairs was to keep the volume of the provision of nursing, rehabilitation and follow-up treatment services at least at the present level. The economic analysis predicts negative economic performance for the Keila Hospital which renders the hospital incapable of continuing its activities in the present form. In view of the necessity of appropriate planning of resources and purposeful use of money, the North-Estonia Regional Hospital and the Ministry of Social Affairs have launched activities for finding potential investors in order to continue the provision of health and welfare services and the administration of the building at the Keila Hospital. “From the standpoint of the state, it is very important to continue the provision of the services which are being offered at present at the Keila Hospital. A possible solution would be to continue the activities as an effectively functioning hospital with a renewed management, in the form of an independent company established by the North-Estonia Regional Hospital,” the Prime Minister stated.

The Minister of the Environment Jaanus Tamkivi replied to the interpellation concerning the forest valuable in terms of nature conservation in Suurupi, submitted by Aleksei Lotman on 22 October. The interpellator enquired what the further action plan of the Ministry of the Environment was in resolving of the case of Suurupi as well as in the prevention of other analogical cases.

Tamkivi explained that the selection of the Natura 2000 areas could only be based on the criteria of the natural science and that had been the reason why the Ministry of the Environment had resumed the establishing of the Suurupi conservation unit. This step was preceded by consultations with both local landowners and representatives of non-governmental organisations engaging in nature conservation. The objective was to find peaceful solutions to the problem. “We positively believed that such solutions could be found and that the establishment of the conservation unit could go on. However, this belief was then frustrated on 18 October when owners began clear cutting in the area”, Tamkivi said.

By today, the Minister of the Environment has suspended the cuttings by a Directive. The court also did not consent to the objections of land owners. So the cuttings are still suspended. “The publishing of the protection rules is in progress which is going to be completed on 26 November and then we will be able to realise the establishing of the Suurupi nature conservation area,” the Minister of the Environment observed.

Due to illness of the interpellator, the interpellation concerning the analysis and consequences of the riot in April, submitted to the Prime Minister by Member of the Riigikogu Evelyn Sepp on 18 October, was excluded from the agenda.

On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the Bill on the Export and Import of Cultural Valuables (78 SE), initiated by the Government, is not going to be deliberated this Thursday.

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at: https://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno

The Riigikogu Press Service