Kallas opens road tax debate, only Center Party backing idea ({{commentsTotal}})

Quality of local roads has been a constant source of worry in Estonia Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Former top politician Siim Kallas said at a transport conference that privatizing main state roads, which would then allow to implement a charge, would improve Estonia's roads.

Kallas said a decrease in fuel duty would offset any road fees.

The Road Administration said it backs a road tax idea as the current balance of funding between state and municipal roads in wrong. He said state roads, which handle a third of the traffic, are better financed than local roads.

The Government Office said it has began to map road tax ideas and the study should be ready by the end of the summer.

The final decision will be taken by the new government, but only the Center Party, which is highly likely to remain in opposition, supports tax on road use. The party said any tax would help to improve the quality of local roads.

Mihhail Korb, a Center Party MP, said the current system of fuel excise duty directed to road management does not work as local governments do not get their fare share and it is largely up to the taxpayers to maintain and improve rural and city roads.

Jürgen Ligi, of the Reform Party, said road tax would not improve roads, only renovation works would. Rannar Vasiiljev of the Social Democrats, said the topic is not currently important and is unlikely to feature in the coalition talks.

IRL's Sven Sester found that a road tax could force people to stay put, and some would even be unable to go to work.

Editor: J.M. Laats

Kallas, Kasemets, Maasikas: EU is strong, no upside to losing the euro

Speaking on Vikerraadio's "Reporteritund" ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, Siim Kallas, Keit Kasemets and Matti Maasikas agreed that despite its prblems, the EU remained strong as a union.

Opinion digest: How can Estonia shed its reputation as a frontline state?

In a recent opinion piece in Postimees, Propastop, a blog maintained by Estonian Defence Forces volunteers, listed suggestions on how Estonia could shed its international reputation as a frontline state.