A planned hospital in Tallinn cannot go ahead thanks to the Reform government's pulling of funding announced Thursday, at least according to Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center).
The hospital, which had not gone beyond planning stage, was due to be funded partly via EU support but, since reconstruction funds are likely to be lower than the one billion initially forecast, Reform says, the hospital's funding and that of at least two other infrastructure projects has been pulled.
Speaking to ERR radio show "Uudis+" Thursday, Kõlvart said the development had been out of the blue for the city government and while the latter had been prepared for the state pulling around €100 million in support from the state budget, the decision to withdraw €280 million from the EU recovery fund had not been predicted.
Kõlvart said: "We don't have an analysis on that. The honest answer is that the government put a fork on this project via its decision. This means that there will be no Tallinn hospital."
Other causes of concern for Reform, as announced via their Thursday cabinet press conference, included meeting the 2026 schedule as required by the EU. The addition to the plan for an extra, subterranean level within the hospital building would have jeopardized this target, it was argued.
Mayor Kõlvart said no plan B was in place, and that the city authorities had only learned of the development via the media and Thursday's press conference.
Finance minster Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, deputizing for Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), who is in Madrid for the NATO summit, said that the capital's city government had only conducted patchy preparatory work, as well as mentioning the extra underground floor noted above.
The National Audit Office had also pointed out the possible duplication of services the hospital, were it to become a reality, would offer given that Tallinn already has two central hospitals, as well as its overall scale and cost; mayor Kõlvart rejected the worries over scheduling and said that 2026, the date set by the European Commission if the project were to be the beneficiary of EU funds, was still viable.
He also rejected Reform's objection based on rising construction prices, as this would entail all construction projects receiving EU support to be sturck off, adding that the risks were known in advance and costs had already been incurred at design stage – as well as the hope he said that the planned hospital had given Tallinn residents.
Reform city council leader: Kölvart must resign
Kristen Michal, Reform's city council chambers party whip, said ultimately, Tallinn had mismanaged the project and as a result, Kõlvart should resign as mayor.
He said: "It was already well known that when the EU funding came, then so would deadlines. We talked to the mayor, did the council explain that this is a project of such a scale that if it fails, the mayor will have to resign. The mayor confirmed in front of the council that he is personally responsible for this project and now it turns out that the necessary financing decisions have not been made to date," said Michal.
"Every time we see health care in disrepair or in poor condition, Kõlvart must be asked what he will do to protest, whether he will resign or say, that someone else is responsible for it," Michal added added, noting that this assessment of the project was also based on the opinions of the national audit office and relevant professional societies.
Editor: Andrew Whyte