If the pharmacy reform reaches a stalemate then Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) may be forced to resign in early April said Kristen Michal, a Riigikogu member of the opposition Reform Party on Thursday.
Speaking on "Opositsioonitund" on ETV's "Viikerraadio" channel, he said: "If there is a consensus with the opposition to make the (pharmacy reform) a soft transition, Tanel Kiik will probably have to leave office. If there is no new consensus, Tanel Kiik, the protege of Jüri Ratas, will actually be the one who will be released on April 1 or April 2."
Michal said it can already be seen that the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is working to get rid of Kiik from the government, which has been their goal for a long time.
"EKRE is already contributing to this, and today's draft has a political undertone to signal that they are providing a solution, Tanel Kiik will not agree with it," said Michal, referring to the proposed amendments to the draft pharmacy reform bill submitted Thursday by the EKRE Riigikogu faction.
He added the opposition could be Kiik's salvation if a possible compromise on pharmacy reform is supported by them.
"Tensions in the coalition are growing and, paradoxically, the opposition has taken on the role of resolving it and rescuing Tanel Kiik's position and possibly the government," Michal said.
On Thursday MPs of the EKRE parliamentary group submitted amendments to the pharmacy reform bill which would see pharmacies granted the right to purchase drugs from sources other than Estonian wholesalers. The right to sell drugs would be expanded to hospitals and family doctor centers as well.
The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) also submitted its own alternative bill. It would grant the State Agency of Medicines the right to extend the transition period for compliance with new requirements to January 1, 2021 in areas where a no pharmacies would be able to meet the new rules.
This would ensure no village, town or borough would end up without a single operating pharmacy on April 1.
Editor: Helen Wright