The Estonian government wants to give the country's municipalities, which have been strengthened as a result of the nationwide administrative reform, even greater decision-making powers and responsibilities, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said in a speech on Wednesday.
"The role of two or three, seven or even more merged municipalities is a completely new level which we must live up to together," Ratas said at the Days of Towns and Municipalities in Tallinn, according to spokespeople for the government.
The prime minister said that the leaders of the new municipalities have received a mandate in the elections to be in charge of education, cultural activities and social welfare in the municipality's territory, as well as to take care of developing the entire living environment. He described it as important that municipalities be developed with a long-term view and in a responsible manner.
According to Ratas, it is a goal of the government to further increase the decision-making powers and responsibilities of municipalities in the management of local life in order to ensure that municipalities be able to plan the development of their region in a more comprehensive manner as well as offer better services to their residents.
Among other things, the government has increased municipalities' financial autonomy and income base.
"These changes make it possible for municipalities to use money more flexibly in the future, being guided by local circumstances and needs," the prime minister said.
The income base of municipalities will grow by €185 million in the years 2018-2021, to which €4.3 million will be added each year for basic swimming instruction and support services.
In addition to the new duties already placed on municipalities with the allocation of necessary funds, the government is also planning to explore this year the possibility of assigning further functions to municipalities, Ratas added.
Editor: Aili Vahtla