EKRE demands postponement of administrative reform (2)
The Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) Council is demanding that the nationwide administrative reform be postponed until after this summer's presidential election.
The EKRE Council, which had convened yesterday in Viljandi, found that the current reform plan forcing local governments to merge under duress is being used as a distraction from actual regional policy which, instead of improving quality of life, may allow for life in the Estonian countryside to die out, reported ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera”.
EKRE Chairman Mart Helme believes that his party will be able to successfully thwart the administrative reform bill from being signed into law at the Riigikogu’s upcoming spring session and that disputes will thus continue in the fall, by when Estonia will already have a new president in office.
“If we consider that we will be seeing local governments in Estonia that are half the size of counties or even entire counties in size, then everyone who knows anything about how life is lived out in the countryside will understand that community centers, libraries, and smaller schools will begin to close,” explained Martin Helme, a member of the party’s governing board. “In other words, that this administrative reform will not attempt to prevent or reverse the dying out of life in the countryside, but rather magnify it.”
“I am quite convinced that both Free Party and Center Party MPs largely share our position — that local government reform in such form is unsuitable,” claimed the EKRE chairman.
According to the latest round of administrative reforms, which were introduced in a bill in March of this year, the new government-mandated minimum population required for an independent administrative unit is 5,000, although the suggested minimum population is actually 11,000 residents per local government. Extra effort made in meeting the latter number will be rewarded as well — in addition to the 100€ per resident already to be paid out to merging parishes, any local governments formed by merger to newly surpass the 11,000-resident mark will be awarded an additional 500,000€ merger grant.