No clear aims, no action plan for reform
The administrative reform of the Estonian state has become a topic, but nobody seems to know much about it. While different actors are gearing up for it, it is unclear what its overall aims should be.
To shed some light on what is being planned and to keep track of what is getting done, the Tallinn think tank Praxis has created the so-called Reformiradar in cooperation with the Estonian Employers’ Confederation. Available in Estonian, this new platform will follow actions taken towards state and administrative reform. ERR News will keep up with what is published and forward news as they come up.
As the founders put it, Estonia is in desperate need of reform. The population is ageing, the working population is shrinking, both developments are making the state more and more expensive.
No agreement what the administrative reform should consist of
As there is no coherent reform plan, Reformiradar have put together an overview of their own. Drawing from the OECD’s 2011 public governance review as well as other sources, they identify four topical areas: Public services, quality of management, policy making, and cost efficiency.
A panel of experts will keep track of all action taken in these four fields, awarding the efforts of the government grades every quarter. The experts will also act as spokespersons, as they’ll talk to the media about the progress they see.
According to Hille Hinsberg of Praxis, the aim of Reformiradar is to motivate the politicians involved to deal with the aspects of reform in a coherent manner.
Small government, quality services, and financial autonomy of the regions
Looking at the government’s aims and planned activities in this category, it seems unclear just what the reforms should aim for in detail.
What is listed includes standard-issue government promises: Improving the quality of services the state offers to citizens, increasing the competitiveness of the country’s regions, reducing the size of government and looking for overlaps between different institutions, better leadership and control of the public sector, a transparent budget.
Differing between state and administrative reform, the government wants local authorities that can offer people the best services, ensure the competitiveness of regions, and that they can fulfil their role independently - in short, more of the same here. At least, this point of order comes with a date attached: The introduction of the necessary legislative changes is announced for Jul. 1, 2016.
Waiting for the panelists’ reviews
The Reform Radar’s panel of experts will evaluate and comment on how the reforms are getting ahead at least once every quarter. Members of the panel include Rector of the Tallinn University of Technology Jaak Aaviksoo, Annika Uudelepp of the think tank Praxis, historian David Vseviov, jurist Jüri Raidla, Kersti Kaljulaid of the European Court of Auditors, and Toomas Tamsar of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation among others.
As Reformiradar is available in Estonian only, ERR News will cover the developments the new portal reflects, and get opinions of the different people involved.