Coalition disagreement holds up confirmation of new Appointments Committee

SDE chair Lauri Läänemets, Reform chair Kaja Kallas and Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder.
SDE chair Lauri Läänemets, Reform chair Kaja Kallas and Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

As its three-year mandate draws to its end, the work of the Estonian government-established Appointments Committee will essentially be put on hold, as a coalition spat regarding the competence of Isamaa's candidate for the committee has delayed the current government's confirmation of the committee's new lineup.

Three years ago, Jüri Ratas' (Center) second government appointed the members of the new Appointments Committee, tasked with presenting proposals regarding the appointments of members to the supervisory boards of partially state-owned companies, on January 9; the committee officially started work on January 27.

On the final day of its mandate this Thursday, the committee consists of Toomas Tamsar, on the proposal of the Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETK), Kaido Padar, on the proposal of then-minister of economic affairs and infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center), Argo Luude, on the proposal of then-minister of finance and party mate Martin Helme (EKRE), and Reet Roos, on the proposal of then-minister of justice and party mate Raivo Aeg (Isamaa).

The current, Reform-Isamaa-SDE coalition government, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas' (Reform) second, has yet to appoint the new makeup of the Appointments Committee, however, and according to Minister of Finance Annely Akkermann (Reform), the issue is the committee candidate proposed by Isamaa.

"The prime minister tasked me with submitting candidates for members of the Appointments Committee to the government, but Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) submitted the name of someone who doesn't meet the requirements laid out in the State Assets Act," Akkermann said.

A few months ago, Danilson-Järg invited Jüri Raatma to serve on the Appointments Committee. Raatma was previously a member of Isamaa, has served as adviser to both Minister of Economic Affairs Juhan Parts and later Minister of Finance Sven Sester and has previously served on the supervisory boards of several state-owned companies. Currently, Raatma is on the payroll at Skeleton Technologies, an international supercapacitor producer in which major Isamaa donor Margus Linnamäe has a stake.

Raatma has said that he remains interested in participating in the Appointments Committee's work, but doesn't know what to say about the holdup. "Due to my prior work, I know these state-owned companies quite well," he noted.

The State Assets Act provides that Appointments Committee members should, among other requirements, be recognized business or management experts with extended and international experience and an unblemished reputation both in their specialty and in business. According to Akkermann, Isamaa's proposed candidate for the committee lacks experience managing a large business.

Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder admitted that the issue has indeed been discussed within the coalition, but thus far, these discussions have not led to any results.

"I guess we'll have to consider how the current law and requirements could be correctly or reasonably interpreted," Seeder said. "The requirement isn't quite 'big international business.' They must indeed have management experience, and international, but it doesn't state that they must have experience managing an international business."

The junior coalition party chair said that this is a point to consider and discuss.

"My personal opinion is that we should consider the specific person — who has what abilities, personality traits, knowledge," he said. "And of course place them within the framework of the law."

If Raatma nonetheless cannot legally serve on the Appointments Committee, Isamaa is prepared to propose an alternative candidate as well, Seeder stressed. "Be they less capable and less suitable, for example, but in the end, it's the law that counts," he added.

A total of nearly 120 members sit on the supervisory boards of companies partially owned by the Estonian state.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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