The Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas replied to the interpellation concerning the financing of road construction (No. 4), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Aivar Sõerd, Andres Sutt, Taavi Rõivas, Kaja Kallas, Annely Akkermann, Kristina Šmigun-Vähi, Heiki Kranich, Jürgen Ligi, Riina Sikkut, Maris Lauri, Kalvi Kõva, Ivari Padar, Heljo Pikhof, Urmas Kruuse, Katri Raik and Jüri Jaanson on 16 September.
The interpellators wished information on infrastructure investments in the next year’s state budget. The interpellators asked on what considerations the Government had rejected the application of the Road Administration to allocate 5 million euro from the state budget every following year in order to plan and design new four-lane highways and to purchase lands for reconstructing the three main highways as four-lane highways.
Aas said that in spring the cabinet had decided to approve both the state budget strategy for 2020–2023 and the state budget for 2020 Bill with an overall national deficit. The Government was planning to come back to the saving on various costs as well as the content of the decisions on potential additional expenditure in the course of the autumn budget process after the Ministry of Finance would have released its summer economic forecast. Under the Government’s decision of 19 December, and the State Budget for 2020 Bill approved by the Government on 24 September and submitted to the Riigikogu, four million euro will be allocated next year for designing the reconstruction of the main highways as four-lane highways and for purchasing lands.
Aas explained that the investment possibilities of the state would be established in the course of the drafting of the state budget strategy and the annual budget. At present, a new road management plan is being drafted which will reflect the Government’s decisions regarding the state budget strategy for 2020–2023 and the state budget for 2020. Among other things, the volume of the preparation of projects will be increased by 4 million euro, and the volume of the surfacing of gravel roads will be increased by 10 million euro. “It must be noted here that the current state budget strategy does not contain the European Union 2021+ budgetary period funds as negotiations with the European Union institutions are still underway. The current road management plan for 2018–2022 was drafted in autumn 2018, based on the state budget strategy for 2019–2022 and the budget for 2019,” Aas said. He added that the road management plan also contained, among other things, the indicative need for financing national roads in 2023–2027. The indication gives an opportunity to better plan funds by years and, depending on the possibilities of the state, to implement sites earlier and to postpone them and to seek other funding alternatives. In addition, the possibilities of implementing larger road construction sites within the framework of public-private partnership cooperation are being analysed.
“We have examined the audit of the European Court of Auditors, and we will definitely take into account the observations and risks set out in the audit when preparing the public-private partnership projects. Relevant principles and instructions needed to implement public-private partnership projects are also already being developed in the Ministry of Finance in order to prevent, among other things, a situation where the risks set out in the audit would be realised in Estonia,” Aas said.
During the open microphone, Ruuben Kaalep took the floor.
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