The Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi replied to the interpellation concerning the possibilities for a primary analysis of the fulfilment of the aims of the administrative reform (No. 434), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel, Krista Aru, Ain Lutsepp, Külliki Kübarsepp, Enn Meri, Monika Haukanõmm, Artur Talvik and Jüri Adams on 2 May.
The interpellators pointed out that the Administrative Reform Act provided for the purpose of the reform: the increase of the capacity of local governments, ensuring the quality and availability of public services, and cost savings. The interpellators wished to know to what extent the proportion of administrative costs and governance costs had decreased in the budgets of the merged local governments after administrative reform, and what factual data were the basis for stating that the provision of fundamental services had improved thanks to administrative reform.
Mäggi confirmed that both he and the agency – scientists, experts and practitioners in the field – had collected and analysed information on a daily basis on how the performance capability of local governments had improved compared to the pre-reform time. “As matters stand, this time has been relatively short, scarcely half a year, and no thorough and far-reaching conclusions can be drawn today,” the minister said. He explained that local governments had engaged in the preparation and implementation of the changes. “We can see that in some local governments this has taken place faster and better, and in others maybe a little more slowly. One reason is also definitely the relations between people and personalities. They have also unfortunately brought about a situation where the comprehensive solution of administrative reform has been successful maybe in two thirds or three quarters, but in some places maybe not so much,” Mäggi said. In his words, we need a continuing process that would yield the result we expected when preparing the reform.
The minister stressed that the main purpose of administrative reform was to increase the professional capability of local governments for the performance of the functions assigned to them, and not financial saving. “It is reasonable to presume that if it is possible for a local government to use money more efficiently, the surplus created is directed to other necessary activities,” Mäggi noted. He added that, at local level, there were enough challenges the resolution of which had been suspended due to lack of funds, and which it was possible to resolve better after administrative reform. “As a result of administrative reform, the number of employees connected to the administration of local governments has already decreased significantly, and it is possible to organise services more efficiently, and this trend continues. The resources opening from more efficient activities are directed to providing fundamental services with higher quality,” the minister explained. In his opinion, it is necessary to wait until at least the end of 2018 before factual data can be presented, because by then, local governments will have been able to work in the new format for one full year, and then it will be possible to draw more precise conclusions.
The Minister of Finance Toomas Tõniste replied to the interpellation concerning the launching of business account that would reduce bureaucracy (No. 435).
During the open microphone, Märt Sults took the floor.
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