A recent networking conference for top-level managers, including heads of various ministries and state agencies as well as some private-sector CEOs, and held in the South Estonian town of Viljandi, cost €60,000 in total to host, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports, with two-thirds of the cost covered by European Union funds.
The two-day event on October 13-14 was held at the Ugala Theater in Viljandi and was organized by the Government Office (Riigikantselei), and included the state secretary and the prime minister among its speakers, EPL reports (link in Estonian).
EPL says the event caught its eye in the wake of recent media reports over former Heritage Protection Board (Muinsuskaitseamet) director Liisa Pakosta's use of ministry expenses (Pakosta was not listed has having attended the Ugala event – ed.), while one attendee told the daily that the event was not simply a festive one, adding that a conference was held during the day.
Maria Kütt, head of the Government Office's top managers' competence center (Tippjuhtide kompetentsikeskus), told EPL that: "The event budget came in at €60,000, inclusive of VAT," adding that the gathering received 65-percent funding from the European Social Fund, aimed at top management development activities, with the remaining 35 percent covered by the Government Office budget.
The budget anticipated a little under 100 attendees, whereas 60 took part on the day (ie. €1,000 per head – ed.), EPL reported.
The breakdown of the €60,000 saw €8,000+VAT spent on renting the theater for the evening of October 13 (when an entertainment program was laid on), supporting services came to a little over €10,500+VAT, while preliminary planning cost €13,725, EPL reports.
The attendees' accommodation in Viljandi, where hotel rooms ranged from around €60 to hundreds of euros per night, was covered by the state agency or organization for which she or he works, Kütt told EPL.
The itinerary saw a buffet lunch and gala dinner on the Thursday, October 13, followed by a networking event and the theater performance, while the Friday was filled mainly by an address from the prime minister, a discussion on a crisis-resistant Estonia, networking and lobbying, and a lunch, EPL reports.
Attendees who spoke before the event included State Secretary Taimar Peterkop, ministry secretaries general Tarvi Sits, Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts and Maarjo Mändmaa and private sector CEOs Mari-Liis Rüütsalu (who heads EPL's parent company, Ekspress Meedia) and Kalev Reiljan of private clinic chain Confido, as well as Israeli security expert Eran Casher, who gave a presentation on crisis resilience.
Top managers in the government's definition also include ministerial deputy secretaries general, the director of the alarm center (Hairekeskus), the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces and the prosecutor general – whether any of these attended was not reported.
The original EPL piece (in Estonian) is here.
The Ugala Theater also hosted the last pre-pandemic, pre-war annual Independence Day presidential reception, on February 24 2020.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi