Ministry Sacks Agency Director Over Taxpayer-Funded Vacation
The minister of economic affairs and communications accepted Road Administration director Tamur Tsäkko's letter of resignation on Wednesday, after an investigation concluded that officials had squandered agency funds in a vacation that was masked as a work-related dispatch.
“Mixing vacation with work and using dispatch funds to pay for unnecessary expenses is not acceptable,” said Minister of Economic Affairs Juhan Parts.
The ministry said a trip to Switzerland earlier this month - in which officials went skiing in France and visited an automobile show - was not in essence a working visit, but a vacation. Five managing Road Administration officials must therefore repay the agency and adjustments will be made to their salaries in accordance with the conditions of vacation periods.
Tsäkko, who submitted a letter of resignation last week, said he had generally played by the rules and that the criticism of the audit was excessively harsh. He admitted, though, that minor mistakes had been made.
"My inner conviction has not changed in this time. I think we generally acted correctly,” Tsäkko told Postimees.
Although the Switzerland trip was organized to account for the formal requirements of official dispatches, ministry auditors said a UN conference was used as a pretext for traveling because three of the officials did not attend the conference - but nonetheless received taxpayer-funded daily allowances - and the two who did were not the agency's respective specialists who would benefit the most.
Now, the agency's director and two deputies must each pay back 1,507 euros. The administrative director and IT director owe even more.
Tsäkko and other Road Administration officials also made a shady trip to Sweden in February. They will not have to repay the expenses of that trip, although auditors described it as “neither sparing nor practical.”
The ministry said it will now conduct a thorough audit of the Road Administration's dispatches over the recent years.