At today’s plenary sitting, the Riigikogu received an overview of the civil service report of 2018 from the Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab. The minister spoke of the number of employees, the labour costs, recruitment, personnel changes and the training activities in the public service.
Jaak Aab gave an overview of the numbers of employees in the whole public and government sector.
“In 2018, 312,000 employees worked in the public sector as a whole as reduced to full-time working time; 88 per cent of them were employed in the government sector and 12 per cent in other public sector. The public sector accounts for around a fifth of the employment among 26-64-year-olds in Estonia,” the minister pointed out.
The number of working-age people in Estonia is declining, and therefore it is important to keep the number of government sector employees in balance with working-age population,” Aab noted. He said that the strategic aim was to maintain a 12 per cent proportion of government sector employees. In the minister’s words, that had been successfully maintained in the previous year when the percentage had been 11.9. “In 2018, the number of people working in the government sector decreased by 0.4 per cent, while the number of civil servants decreased by 720 persons, that is, by 2.5 per cent. In state authorities, the number of civil servants decreased by 612 persons, that is, by 2.7 per cent. In local governments, the number decreased by 108 members of staff, that is, by 1.9 per cent,” Aab said.
Aab noted that, in terms of the organisation of work, the previous year had been a year of great changes in civil service.
“First, the first stage of the administrative reform, that is, the administrative-territorial reform was concluded,” the minister said. “51 new local governments, that is, around two thirds of all today’s local governments were formed by mergers. In total, the number of local governments diminished from 213 to 79,” Aab said. In the minister’s words, as a result of the mergers, there are more funds to contribute to the provision of high-quality services and the performance of local government functions.
The minister pointed out that, as of 1 January 2018, county governments, that is, local representations of central government, had been eliminated. In Aab’s words, that meant that a number of sectors and functions had become the joint responsibility of local governments or local governments in counties, like for example the organisation of public transport or the development of the county as a region.
“More than 40 state authorities, foundations with state holding and public law institutions contributed to the reorganisations by creating new job opportunities outside Tallinn,” the minister said. Aab noted that new civil service posts had been created in counties and, in addition, hundreds of jobs had been moved out of the capital. In the minister’s opinion, such reorganisations have given an opportunity to work in state jobs in regions also to people who earlier were forced to commute to work in Tallinn.
The minister said that, in 2019 and in the future, the moving of state-salaried jobs out of the capital, and the favouring of flexible working conditions and teleworking would continue. “The state service bureaus to be established in county centres by the end of 2023 will allow to improve the working conditions of state employees in regions and to extend the opportunities for teleworking, in addition to increasing the availability of public services,” Aab noted. In the minister’s words, recruitment to the public service and to state-salaried positions more widely will have to be more flexible, and the best candidates will have to have the opportunity to work near home.
During the debate, Lauri Läänemets from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Hanno Pevkur from the Reform Party Faction and Heiki Hepner from Faction Isamaa took the floor.
The deliberation of the first reading of a Bill was adjourned in the Riigikogu due to the end of the working hours of the plenary:
The Bill on Amendments to the Citizenship Act and the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (57 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the provisions of the Citizenship Act to specify and harmonise with basic school studies the requirements for Estonian language proficiency and knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the Citizenship Act, set for application for citizenship.
The provisions relating to graduation from basic school and the external assessment of learning outcomes in the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act will also be amended.
When the Act enters into force, national final examinations in basic schools will be omitted from the conditions of graduation from basic school. The competence to decide on graduation from basic school will be given entirely to schools.
On the basis of the national curriculum, schools will have the right to establish for example school examinations corresponding to the specifics of the school, or for example carrying out creative work or research, as a condition of graduation. As a national feedback tool, national curriculum-dependent and proficiency tests will be retained. They provide an opportunity to track students’ development over time, and to analyse the learning outcomes in different years and the learning outcomes of a school or a class within the context of the overall national level.
National surveys of students, parents and school employees will be provided for as a new external assessment instrument.
According to the Bill, an examination in Estonian or Estonian as a second language will be conducted for all final year students of basic schools. Passing the examination will not be connected with graduation from basic school, but its aim will be to measure the level of Estonian language proficiency in persons who have acquired basic education.
A national test will also be conducted for all basic school graduates before graduation from basic school. The test will evaluate students’ knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, the fundamentals of the constitutional order and the functioning of society, and the rights and obligations of citizens.
According to the Bill, if a basic school graduate successfully passes the national tests conducted within the framework of his or her studies, he or she will also comply with the requirements for Estonian language proficiency and knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the Citizenship Act, set for application for citizenship.
The Riigikogu did not support a draft Resolution:
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of Members of the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Estonia” (38 OE), initiated by the Finance Committee.
In connection with the termination of the mandate of the Members of the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Estonia, the Chairman of Supervisory Board Mart Laar proposed to appoint Enn Eesmaa, Kaie Kerem, Enn Listra, Rein Minka, Ivari Padar, Jaanus Tamkivi and Urmas Varblane as members of the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Estonia.
The Supervisory Board of the Bank of Estonia is the oversight body of the Bank of Estonia, which consists of a Chairman and seven Members. The Riigikogu appoints Members of the Supervisory Board of the central bank at the proposal of the Chairman of the Supervisory Board for five years.
Peeter Ernits from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction took the floor during the debate.
18 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the draft Resolution and 74 were against.
As a majority vote of the members of the Riigikogu was needed for the draft Resolution to be passed, it was not passed.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201909241000.
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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