Candidate for the Estonian Conservative People's Party's (EKRE) new Minister of Rural Affairs Arvo Aller will keep working on an initiative aimed at moving people and families to the countryside.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Aller said he intended to develop the plan put forward by former minister Mart Järvik who was released from office last week. Aller said: "It's a very good idea, maybe it can be improved."
In September Järvik presented a plan to channel €100 million to the Rural Development Foundation (MES) to support people moving to the country. Half the money will be used to buy or rent land to people who want to move and the other could be used as loans.
Aller and Finance Minister Martin Helme, vice-chairman of EKRE, who attended the press conference, also promised that the government will find additional money in the next year's budget, in addition to the €5 million currently planned, for transitional support or so-called top-up grants for farmers which was cut from this year's budget.
"There will definitely be extra money for that!" Aller said. "We are looking for more money, I believe we will be able to increase the top-up in next year's budget," Helme added.
Aller refrained from commenting more specifically on the Department of Rural Affairs' relationship with Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) and the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA), which were the main reasons for Järvik's dismissal, while affirming his trust in both. But they could make their activities more transparent and improve their communication, Aller added.
Commenting on the Ministry of Rural Affairs, Aller said he had not decided whether to go ahead with the structural changes initiated by the previous minister, which includes cutting the number of general secretaries from three to two. "Since it came back from the government, I will have to look deeper into what the purpose of this change is and whether it is reasonable to go ahead with it. I can decide later," Aller said.
He also said he had no new candidate for the ministry's empty position of secretary general. "We will review the suitable candidates and, if necessary, conduct the competition. At present, I have no names," said Aller.
When asked if he supports the use of migrant labor in agriculture, Aller said that "work must be done for a worthy wage," and those who are prepared to do it for a worthwhile wage must be able to do so.
EKRE nominated Arvo Aller, the CEO of the Ida-Viru County Farmers' Union, as the new candidate for the Minister of Rural Affairs on Friday. Aller has not yet met either the EKRE faction in the Riigikogu or Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who is currently abroad. Aller and Ratas will meet on Thursday.
Editor: Helen Wright