Minister of Public Administration Arto Aas said the planned public sector cuts, which have caused heated debate, are based on analysis and take into consideration the dwindling number of the working-age population.
He said the aim of the cuts is not short-term but implementation of long-term structural changes.
Aas said the plan to cut public sector staff numbers at the same pace as the decline in working-age people is based on the government human resources statistics of the past five years.
“There were heated debates with ministries and ministers but a plan was agreed upon,” Aas said, adding that in some areas, such as tax collection and internal security, cuts in staff numbers have been sufficient in recent years and those areas will have to cut less or none at all.
He said every department wants to expand and offer more jobs, adding that the number of working-age people is declining and the solution is not to expand the public sector.
“The problem will persist and it would be very easy to hide one's head under the sand and hand the problems to the next government and only cut ribbons and tackle convenient topics. But in my opinion, it is necessary to look at problems which await Estonia in 10 or 15 years,” he said.
A number of state institutions, such as the Tartu University Hospital, have said they are planning to hire more staff instead. The Tartu University Hospital, for example, will have to cut 85 jobs, but is just opening a new wing with 175 beds and needs new staff.
The entire public sector will have to cut 750 jobs each year. Social affairs will have to sack 235 staff members, education (175), defense (57) and culture (55) as the fields facing the most cuts.
Editor: J.M. Laats