Arto Aas, the Reform Party MP likely to head the new Public Administration Ministry, said the new coalition will prioritize administrative reform and is ready to force municipalities to merge.
IRL and the Reform Party, when in coalition from 2011-2014, differed on how to decrease the number of local governments, with IRL pushing for reform which would force smaller municipalities to unite into 50 units, instead of the current 215. The Reform Party was then unwilling to force municipalities to merge.
Aas said the party still prefers voluntary mergers, but added that the process has drawn out and changes are needed. He said a new plan will be drawn up by 2016 and local governments will be able to merge on a voluntary basis at the 2017 local elections. If there are small municipalities left by that time, which are weak and have been unable to make the decision to merge themselves, the state will step in.
He said the conditions for state interference will be documented.
Aas told ETV the new ministry will have three main tasks in administrative reform, a wider state reform, and consolidating state services and administering state assets.
The ministry will be attached to the Ministry of Finance and will combine functions currently being administered by various ministries.
Editor: J.M. Laats