Allik: Administrative reform complete nonsense
Social Democrat Jaak Allik said to ERR’s radio news before the government’s decision on its administrative reform bill that it was complete nonsense and very unlikely to succeed.
In Allik’s opinion, the need for administrative reform is of the kind that mainly people talk about who don’t really know what local governments are, what their functions are, and how different they are all around Estonia.
“We joined the European Union, joined NATO, and were supposed to live happily ever after, and now it’s the same with administrative reform, just get it done, and we’re all united in happiness. But really, it’s complete nonsense. It’s important what this reform is, not to just get it done,” he said.
According to Allik, the reform as currently proposed doesn't really have a lot of substance and would bring new problems. The driving force behind the proposed reform, Allik said, was the plan to simply buy off the municipality mayors and the municipalities themselves. He pointed to the annual salaries the mayors would receive as well as the planned merger support to be paid out. “What’s missing is an actual idea why this should be done,” he said.
It wasn’t the state government’s task to do the work of that of the counties, Allik pointed out. And as such, Rõivas’ government underestimated the negative effects of forcing municipalities to merge, and creating artificial administrative units.
Allik said that the political reality was that the chances of such a reform to happen were less than 50%. It couldn’t be that Saare County would be as big as a merged Saare municipality, he said, and that at the same time Ida-Viru County would have ten municipalities. “It will become clear in the course of these mergers and forced unifications that there are so many obstacles that we’ll eventually be looking at such a mess we won’t even be able to have local elections,” Allik said.