Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) urged the government to extend the application period of the energy prices support measure from the current five months until the end of spring. He described the current application period expectation as unrealistic.
Tallinn has received a total of 11,240 applications for energy costs compensation. The city has been accepting applications since January 17.
"The government's suggestion that it takes 20 minutes to process a single application is unrealistic. It takes an hour on average in a situation where people have to present documents on paper. Electronic applications are often incomplete or lack necessary attachments in which case we need to contact people to sort out any problems," Kõlvart said at the city government press conference on Tuesday.
The mayor added that while he understands some local governments are making progress, Tallinn has by far the most applicants.
He added that the government's new universal support measure is still seeing people apply for the earlier benefit, with city officials having to calculate who qualifies.
"It is not a case of city officials being reluctant or incapable of working, but only city officials can make decisions. The extra hands we have hired are not qualified do make the call. City officials have to take on that workload in addition to their regular tasks," the mayor said.
"How does it make sense to first create a measure that requires an individual approach and then follow it up by a universal measure that are then somehow supposed to correlate," Kõlvart said.
The mayor added that people are afraid they will be too late filing their application.
Applications can be filed until the end of May but only for energy consumed over the previous five months. For example, it is currently impossible to apply for compensation for the September power bill after February ends.
"Application queues stretch into April. A week's worth of applications is what officials usually handle over four months, whereas their other tasks aren't going anywhere," Kõlvart said, adding that while the city can hire consultants, there is no procedure for hiking the number of municipal officials.
"The applications period needs to be extended. It doesn't pay to keep people in suspense and tell them that applications will only be accepted until the end of February. It needs to be extended. The applications need to be processed for as long as people keep filing them – until the end of spring if needed. Not to mention that we are awaiting a compensation solutions for district heating," Kõlvart said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski