Government pushes on with administrative reform
The Estonian government has decided to form a committe that is tasked with working out the particulars of the local administration reform and necessary legal acts.
The committee will include various parties involved in the development and implementation of the administration reform principles.
As per coalition action plan, the political management of the reform is carried out by the Prime Minister, who will, therefore, chair the committee. Arto Aas, the minister of public administration and the committee's vice-chairman, will be responsible for the implementation of the reform.
The committee also includes the minister of justice, health and employment, internal affairs, education and research, and an advisor to the PM, as well as the representatives of several Parliamentary committess, the Office of the Estonian President, local government associations, and the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In addition to the formation of the committee advising the government, an expert committee is established. Its tasks include the preparation of the administration reform and the development of the draft Act of the administration reform and other necessary amendments to the Act by involving specialists and professionals of the ministries, other governmental authorities and bodies, as well as field experts.
According to the coalition action plan, the administration reform must be carried out by 2017. Following the plan, the local governments that do not meet the standalone criteria must merge. In case the merger is not carried out in time, the government has the right to enforce it.
IRL and the Reform Party, when in coalition from 2011-2014, differed on how to decrease the number of local governments, with IRL pushing for reform which would force smaller municipalities to unite into 50 units, instead of the current 215. The Reform Party was then unwilling to force municipalities to merge, but changed its tune when the current Coalition formed.
The proposed administration reform Act and other laws necessary to carry out the reform should enter into force on July 1, 2016.