Ilves Slams Official Over Regional Jobs Comment ({{commentsTotal}})

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has criticized Ain Tatter, the head of the Road and Railway Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, for his statement that the state-owned passenger rail operator must be run a business and not as part of the nation's regional policy efforts.

Tatter told Sakala on Tuesday that Elron, formerly Elektriraudtee, is a business that should be run efficiently, and therefore its service staff should reside in Tallinn.

Elron, which will take over the nation's long-distance lines from January 1, is currently offering only jobs in which the work day begins and ends in Tallinn. The policy would seem to shut out applicants who reside at the far ends of the lines in Valga and Viljandi.

Tatter said that Elron was not aiming to provide an extension of the state's regional initiatives by providing jobs for those living outside the capital - a sentiment that drew fire from Ilves.

“I am startled by the sentence 'We are not running a state company to participate in regional policy.' That type of attitude is not right. What is the point of a state company if it cannot be bothered to support the state and our people?” Ilves said on his Facebook page.

Elron spokesman Norbert Kaareste told ERR News today that current operator is part of a larger company with more staff around Estonia, while that Elron has concentrated its resources in Tallinn.

Kaareste said that allowing day-to-day instructions to be handed out from one place where staff receive necessary equipment and can deposit cash from ticket sales is far more efficient.

The new trains and organization of work mean the company can spend 25 percent less than the current operator to provide the service, Kaareste said.