Reform Party ministers decided in June that Estonia will not use EU funds earmarked for the Tallinn Hospital. Even though Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart has admitted that the city cannot afford to build the hospital complex alone, planning continues and will require over €20 million in the coming years.
The EU Recovery Fund was set to contribute €280 million towards the hospital project. But while the cost of the hospital was initially estimated at around €400 million, soaring construction prices mean that no one really knows how much it would cost to build today. Estonia's previous health and labor minister, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Talen Kiik (Center) said that he is convinced the new government will find the money needed to build the hospital following spring parliamentary elections.
"Suggesting that it is impossible for the state to support the hospital project is nonsense. Estonia has seen back-to-back state budgets sporting a deficit of €1 billion. The Tallinn Hospital requires €300-400 million over three or four years, while the state finds ten times that money to spend on other things," Kiik suggested.
Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE) admitted that the Tallinn Hospital will not be allocated funds from next year's budget, giving uncertainty surrounding the project as the reason. But the minister has tasked Ministry of Social Affairs Undersecretary Maarjo Mändmaa with coming up with a new financing model in the coming months.
"I hope to see proposals in February-March at the latest. Whether that will prove possible remains to be seen," Peterson offered.
Preparations for the construction of the hospital are handled by the Tallinn Hospital Foundation. Its head Sven Kruup is certain that planning work will continue for which €21 million is needed.
"The conceptual design is about to be completed, and we will finish the main design by 2024, which is when the construction tender can be held," Kruup said.
He pointed out that funding for the Tallinn Hospital is still included in European Commission documents. "The need for the hospital is long-term. It goes beyond a single elections cycle, and we need to look 50 years into the future here."
But isn't it too risky to spend tens of millions on a major project based simply on the hope that money for it will be found?
Kruup said that the government must fund at least half of the project as half of the hospital's patients will be from outside Tallinn. He added that renovating existing buildings cannot create new quality. The head of the foundation said it is prepared to finish construction by 2028 and the hospital could move in the following year. However, the question of funding is still completely unresolved.
Editor: Marcus Turovski