Center Party local government leaders from across Estonia have issued an appeal to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) to find additional, more effective solutions to mitigate the ongoing soaring energy prices, saying that the current measures are insufficient for ordinary people and business alike.
The address stated that: "It is important that every Estonian person be reached with measures, while it must be ensured that these measures are effective enough to alleviate the energy crisis. The corresponding decisions must be made as soon as possible."
The address was careful not to criticize the measures put in place so far – bill payment support for low-income households, administered by local government, plus cuts in the network connection fee for electricity and gas, likely to benefit larger consumers the most.
"Certainly, the current measures of the Government of the Republic in alleviating the rise in electricity prices have been necessary and helpful to many Estonians. At the same time, it is clear that the rapid rise in energy prices in winter continues to cause difficulties for both private and business consumers," the open letter continued.
As a coalition partner, the Center Party was involved in the two existing measures outlined above as policy in any case.
The signatories were all Center Party municiaplity mayors or municipal council chairs – the latter role is as significant or sometimes even more significant than the former – and in some cases municipal council elders, also a significant post, as follows:
Mihhail Kõlvart (Tallinn mayor), Jaanus Karilaid (Haapsalu, city council chair), Urmas Sukles (Haapsalu mayor), Andrei Korobeinik (Pärnu city council chair), Vladimir Arhipov (Mayor of Maardu), Triin Varek (Rakvere mayor), Riho Kutsar (Viru-Nigula municipal council chair), Rauno Võrno (Vinni elder), Tõnis Kalberg (Sillam'e mayor), Värner Lootsmann (Loksa mayor), Angela Sasking (Jõgeva elder), Britt Vahter (Rõuge elder), Anti Allas (Võru mayor), Jaanus Kalev (Ania council chair), Toomas Nael (Kohtla-Järve mayor), Tiit Lillemets (Kohtla-Järve city council chair) and Toomas Tammik (Järva municipal elder).
Anneli Ott, Chair of the Center Party's local government council, former culture minister and a person who was long active in local politics in Võru, said that: "There is no more time to assess and analyze the situation."
"The people of Estonia expect the state to act quickly and decisively. Solutions must be universal so that people and companies can get help quickly. the situation is extremely great, " Ott continued, according to a separate Center Party press release.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) is facing pressure from Center to take on some of its proposed solutions to the continued high energy prices, with many weeks of winter still to go.
So far, the prime minister has knocked back the bulk of Center's proposals, while both parties have accused each other of a lack of engagement and communication.
The rift could also be seen in terms of the more business-friendly approach taken by the nominally free-market oriented Reform Party, and the social market economy stance of the Center Party.
Center is pressing to discuss the matter on Sunday; Reform has been putting it off to next week.
Record electricity, district heating and natural gas prices have been posted and posted again since the autumn, part of a wider trend which goes far beyond Estonia.
District heating refers to a centrally-controlled system whereby hot water is piped to apartment blocks, predominantly erected in the Soviet era or later, to provide heating via radiators. The hot water is often a by-product of the activities of power stations.
Editor: Andrew Whyte