Interior minister: May be interregnum before new secretary general in place

Kristian Jaani.
Kristian Jaani. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) says that while he hopes to find a replacement to long-serving ministry Secretary General Lauri Lugna, announced Monday, by Lugna's last day in the job in 10 days' time, the list of potential successors is long. Lugna is leaving the interior ministry to head up a new foundation comprising two merged, existing state bodies.

Jaani said Tuesday that: "Ideally, the individual should be known of by January 14, when the current chancellor is on his final working day. This would be a good goal, but nothing will happen if they are not in place by then."

An interim solution is in place in any case.

"It will most likely in any case not be possible to appoint a new person to the position of secretary general so quickly – at that point undersecretary Veiko Kommussaar will still be working [on a temporary basis] at that point. My aim is to find a dignified secretary general, which is the most important task for me in the coming days and weeks," he continued.

Jaani described the outgoing Lugna's work as "very satisfactory", adding they enjoyed a good cooperation.

"Lauri [Lugna] has done a very good job in this area – so one eye is crying while the other smiles. But understandably, if a person wants fresh challenges, after working in the ministry for 17 years, six them as secretary general. That's some tough luggage he is taking with him, which can be used in new challenges," said Jaani.

Lugna as noted finishes on January 14 and starts his new role as Entrepreneurship and Innovation Foundation head three days later.

Jaani would not comment on whether Kommussaar, holding the role on an interim basis, would be made permanent, adding that there were many strong candidates out there, both inside and outside the ministry, that he would be casting the net wide and that the role carried wide-ranging responsibilities, ranging from extensive national defense to international cooperation.

Jaani added has not had a chance to speak with anyone yet, other than the outgoing Lugna, but intends to in the coming days.

As reported by ERR News, Lugna is set to head the merger of the formerly separate state credit agency Kredex and innovation, trade, foreign investment and e-state promoters Enterprise Estonia (EAS).

The new body will be called the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Foundation (Ettevõtluse ja Innovatsiooni SA), whose branding is to be finalized this year.

The merger was announced in April this year and confirmed in June, with efficiency gains cited as the primary compelling factor.

Kredex had been in the spotlight over several significant Covid loans, principally one of €37 million to the Porto Franco real estate development at a time when the project was not generating revenue nor indeed completed. This gathered pace after the body was implicated in a corruption scandal involving the development, in central Tallinn, which brought down the Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition, almost a year ago.

The position of secretary general – administrative head of a ministry – is a significant one and, despite not being a political posting, one which occasionally gets caught up in political wranglings in any case.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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