Administrative Reform Gearing Up ({{commentsTotal}})

Regional Affairs Minister Siim Kiisler (IRL) on Monday sent other ministries his long-awaited bill designed to reduce the nation's vast number of municipalities.

The aim of the draft law is to unite municipalities to population centers, cutting the number of municipalities from the current 215 to 63 by 2017, the time of the next local elections, the ministry said in a press release.

Most of Estonia's municipalities have fewer than 2,000 residents. After reforms, the mean would be closer to 5,000. 

Other ministries will now have the opportunity to comment on the draft.

If the bill is passed, municipalities would have until the end of 2014 to choose which center they wish to unite with, but the minister would take over negotiations if no decision is made by the deadline.

The bill will have to be approved by the Cabinet and Parliament. The former could pose a problem as senior coalition partner the Reform Party has said it does not approve of forcing municipalities to merge.

The Parliament could be a happier hunting grounds for Kiisler, as opposition parties have said that administrative reform is necessary.