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Audit: No mistakes made in planning Estonia's eastern border

Border markers along Estonia's eastern border with Russia.
Border markers along Estonia's eastern border with Russia. Source: (Arved Breidaks/Valgamaalane/Scanpix)

No mistakes were made when drawing up the construction project for Estonia's eastern border, the results of a fresh interim audit published on Wednesday indicate.

"The results of the audit show that no mistakes were made when planning the construction of the eastern border," Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE) said at a press conference.

When the estimates were being drawn up based on the Estonian government's instructions in 2015, there was very little information regarding details which would affect the construction price, like construction volumes and geology, explained the minister. In addition, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) had basically only a month and a half to present their assessment, he added.

The only thing that can be criticized is communication, as the information regarding the higher cost of border construction was not conveyed clearly enough to the PPA. At the same time, ministry officials can be criticized as well, as at times they did not monitor monetary obligations closely enough, and at times they also did not show enough interest in border planning, Anvelt noted.

"But these circumstances did not change the construction of the eastern border or its price," the minister continued, adding that the state did not suffer any monetary damage as a result of these shortcomings.

It was announced at the beginning of February that, according to PPA calculations, the construction of Estonia's eastern border will be 2.5 times more expensive than initially planned, with the overall price tag increasing from €79 million to €197 million.

Tarmo Olgo, director of the Ministry of the Interior's Internal Audit Department, which compiled the audit, said that the audit did not determine that PPA officials, when preparing an initial assessment for the government in 2015, had done so superficially or maliciously.

Most of price tag increase attributable to rising costs

According to the audit, 84 percent of the increase in price was made up of an increase in the price of the work to be carried out and 16 percent was the additional of new capabilities, first and foremost a drone capability.

Anvelt said that the PPA will continue to lead the project. "My suggestion to the PPA is to expand the competence project management," he said. Expand it in the sense that we are after all speaking about a project that is second in size after Rail Baltica," the minister said. He explained that the competence of project management must be very extensive, as on the one hand, the head of the project must control the field of the technical requirements and knowhow for guarding the state border, on the other hand, they must have the competence of a civil engineer and financial management.

The supervision of the Ministry of the Interior, which represents the customer in the process, must also be highlighted more clearly. This must concern comprehensiveness both in terms of realizing that plan of action as well as financial supervision. At the same time, the ministry must also be able to react quickly in the event that unforeseen situations emerge in the project or changes must be made within it, Anvelt added.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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