Support for Administrative Reform High, Says Outgoing Regional Affairs Minister
Regional Affairs Minister Siim Kiisler of IRL, whose position will be liquidated by the new coalition, said his reform plans continue to yield wide support.
Speaking about successes his ministry has achieved in the past three years, Kiisler told uudised.err.ee on Sunday that the fact that the administrative reform his office has proposed is backed by more people than it is opposed by is a great achievement.
The reform, which did not gain the support of coalition partner the Reform Party, would have motivated the 215 local governments to merge with 60 population centers by 2017, with those municipalities not picking a population center by a deadline being forced into a merger.
He said the new coalition has decided to ignore the problems faced by municipalities for the next eleven months until the 2015 parliamentary elections. The minister set the legal process rolling for implementing the reform two months ago, but the draft law will be scrapped by the Social Democrats and the Reform Party, with the coalition agreement saying they will conduct studies instead.
Critics told Eesti Päevaleht today Kiisler's reform is not as perfect as could be, saying the functions and funding of local governments should be clarified before mass mergers begin. Others said administrative reform does not go far enough, as it fails to deal with infrastructure and attracting businesses to smaller settlements.
The issue of population centers has also received criticism, as Saaremaa has only one such center, while Lääne-Viru County has seven.
The position of the Regional Affairs Minister will be abolished and responsibilities directed to the Agriculture Ministry.