The Cabinet today approved a deadline for administrative reform and doubled the financial incentive for municipalities to merge.
The first step is to draw up principles of the much-debated administrative reform and prepare the legal framework. The bill for the reform should be passed before July 1, 2016.
Local governments will then have until October 15, 2017 to agree to voluntary mergers, after which the government will begin merger processes itself. All mergers should be finalized by October 1, 2018.
Local governments who agree to merge before 2017 will receive double the current rate of financial support, and the municipality heads left without jobs will receive 12 months pay.
Administrative reform was a thorn in the Reform Party-IRL coalition. The Reform Party has now accepted that the state must force those municipalities to merge, which are unwilling to do so voluntarily. Estonia currently has 215 local governments, some with just a few hundred residents. The aim is around 50 municipalities, allowing municipalities to save on administrative costs and offer better services.
Editor: J.M. Laats