As the City of Tallinn's financial position would allow it to take out a loan of up to €300 million, the city is capable of building Tallinn Hospital with its own money, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Wednesday. He noted, however, that this route wouldn't be either right or fair.
The city believes that the right and fair financing model for the construction of the planned new megahospital would be receiving €280 million from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RFF) and the remainder of the bill being split by the City of Tallinn and the state.
According to a forecast drawn up last year, construction and furnishing of the hospital with medical equipment is projected to cost €573 million. Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) has previously said, however, that the state will not be giving the project any further money on top of EU support, and that Tallinn will have to come up with the rest of the needed money itself or else build a smaller hospital.
Kõlvart said that they are already familiar with the position of the Estonian government — and the Reform Party first and foremost — and they don't expect this position to change before next year's Riigikogu elections.
"Two options remain: either we abandon this project, or we begin, and proceed based on the possibility that priorities may change after the elections, but also on the fact that Tallinn is capable of investing more than €100 million, which we have stated," the mayor said. "And this capacity exists."
Should a private partner be found for the planned renovation of Linnahall, the city could also reallocate money initially earmarked for that project, some €140 million, to the hospital instead, he added.
"On top of that, Tallinn is prepared to invest €100 million itself," Kõlvart said. "This is loan money. Our financial position would allow us to loan three times that amount. If we're talking about how [Tallinn's portion] may be not €100 million but rather €250 million, plus €100-140 million from the Linnahall project, then the money is actually there. But I believe this wouldn't be right or fair that the city contributes 100 percent from its own budget."
The planned megahospital is expected to fulfill the role of a regional hospital, he stressed, and more than half of its patients will be coming from outside of the capital.
Everything on schedule for now
According to Kõlvart, by continuing with design works, Tallinn has already clearly signaled that it is definitely moving forward with the hospital project. The preliminary design should be completed this summer.
"We have a set schedule, which means that by the end of next year, or beginning of the year after next at the latest, we'll be announcing the construction procurement," he said. "This is the plan — that we should announce the first procurements in parallel with the design stage in order to get done [in time]. And it's possible to divide up these construction procurements into stages — a concrete procurement, a utilities procurement — and if we can manage to handle this in parallel, we'll remain on schedule."
The mayor said that splitting up construction into stages would likewise mean meeting the European Commission's deadlines as well; the current deadline for completion of the hospital is July 2026.
"The general understanding is that the hospital doesn't have to be complete, but rather some part of it needs to be complete in order to apply for a building permit, and the building permit application procedure is already underway," Kõlvart said. "That is a general rule. I believe that the framework is broad enough to fit in there."
Tallinn itself, meanwhile, has recently suggested that a second basement floor should be added to hospital plans.
According to Kõlvart, however, the finance minister's suggestion to scale back the size of the planned complex cannot be taken seriously.
"We all understand that that isn't a serious debate — that would mean new design work," the mayor said. "You can't just leave part of the design out; this isn't legos. In that case you should just honestly say that there will be no hospital."
Editor: Aili Vahtla