The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has a permanent shortage of 300 front-line workers, candidate for the agency's next director-general Egert Belitšev said on Wednesday.
Belitšev told "Esimene stuudio" one of the main problems that must be addressed is how to recruit more front-line staff to the agency, such as police officers and border guards.
"We have a permanent shortage of 200-300 people who we would be happy to recruit, but who we are simply unable to employ for one reason or another," said Belitšev.
Salaries are one of the biggest problems.
"We have been looking within ourselves [PPA] for years to find the means to raise our employees' salaries. We did receive a very large injection of money for next year from the government to help us. But the concern is that rapid inflation will eat it all up," Belitšev said.
The official is concerned salaries for the agency's workers will be below average Estonian next year, which is approximately €1,600.
"Our first goal is to give a sense of security to those who create it. It would be best if the average patrolling officer's salary were also linked to the average Estonian salary, or, for example, 1.2 times the Estonian average," he added.
PPA chief must speak honestly to MPs
Speaking about why he has agreed to become a candidate for head of the PPA, he said: " First of all, I care about Estonia and I care about this institution and the people there. And in order to preserve this institution and the Estonian state, I have given my consent [to become a candidate]."
Discussing the qualities needed for the role, Belitšev said: "Success is when everyone in Estonia feels safe, trusted and that we are creating the value that is expected of us."
He said the head of the agency must put the Estonian state and its people first. They must also listen to politicians who represent the will of the voters.
"But if the head of the Police and Border Guard Board sees something that does not create security or that does not make life better, then he or she needs to say so honestly and, if necessary, present his or her arguments[against it]," Belitšev said, adding an "honest picture" must be presented to those in power.
If the Riigikogu's Legal Affairs Committee agrees with Belitšev's candidacy, he will then need to be appointed by MPs. The role would start on May 1.
Eastern border should be built by 2025
Speaking about the eastern border, the official said he is hopeful that it will be built in less than five years.
"If we are talking about the land part of the Southeastern perimeter, today's targets are for it to be ready by 2025," he said.
Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright
Source: Estimene stuudio