Jaanus Karilaid: Pandemic to provide state reform spark

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Jaanus Karilaid. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

What to do so that entrepreneurs and citizens would not accuse politicians of persecution and standing in the way of progress? The answer is that we need to execute the state reform post haste, Jaanus Karilaid writes.

I agree with Jüri Raidla who said during a Riigikogu state reform support group meeting that the level of generalization and modest concreteness of bill 181 OE allows the Riigikogu to shape it into a true foundation for Estonia's state reform.

The stare reform memorandum bears the signatures of all major political parties, including the five that make up the current Riigikogu. This should serve as an additional guarantee. The goal is permanent – for the state and local governments to be able to offer high-quality services and do it effectively.

We can find hundreds of examples of how obstacles lie in the bureaucratic apparatus and political leadership either fails to produce results or becomes a public stand-off between officials and politicians. From the Health Board's controversial messages to dragged out detailed plans in Tallinn, not to mention the astronomical deadlines of state special plans.

The number and time it takes to process various permits has become a hindrance for business. While these processes should be simple, quick and transparent to facilitate investments. Longer time limits of proceedings compared to other countries, especially our neighbors, have become an obstacle for the development of business and our regional and global competitiveness.

The Netherlands can boast one of the biggest success stories when it comes to reducing administrative pressure (regulations) and should serve as an example for the state reform in Estonia. The country managed to reduce the administrative burden of entrepreneurs by 25 percent or by €4 billion.

What to do so that businessmen and citizens would not accuse politicians of persecution and standing in the way of progress? The answer: the state reform and post haste. The previous coalition was looking to drag the process out and failed to produce a solid agreement neither in terms of a deadline nor content. I hope we will not repeat the same mistake with the Reform Party.

The state reform needs to be consensually "translated" into a language people can understand. For example, cutting the time of proceedings in half where possible. Not going from a problem to a solution through the courts, a digital leap from the state to the person, equal treatment and a human touch – the feeling that we are the state must be included in the contents of the reform.

Boosting the role of the Riigikogu and direct presidential elections will also be retained as goals. The former seems to be a more realistic prospect in the current situation.

The previous government provided a framework for 181 OE, while it is now time to populate it with content. We currently have 101 opinions on the state reform, while we need to boil it down to one. The clock is ticking.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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