Ilves Urges Government to Move Forward With Municipal Reform (1)
After a meeting with municipal leaders yesterday, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves demanded that the national government resolve an impasse in municipal reforms.
"Today we are at the point where it would be fair to both municipalities and their citizens that a political consensus be reached," Ilves said. "I am waiting and all of the heads of municipalities are waiting for a clearer message from the government on how administrative reforms will go forward and what form they will take."
For more than a decade, a number of regional ministers from different parties have unsuccessfully attempted to reform Estonia's unwieldy, underfunded network of local governments, which number over 200.
The regional affairs minister, a member of junior coalition partner IRL, recently proposed a plan that would significantly reduce the number of municipalities, but critics in the Reform Party have resisted the plan, saying they will not support any forced changes.
Ilves said that on one hand the government is giving orders to municipalities, but on the other hand it has not ensured that proposed reforms will materialize and municipal leaders lack confidence that they will.
"I want to stress that administrative reform is not merely a matter of drawing lines between municipalities; it also includes municipal funding and reviewing responsibilities," Ilves said.