On Monday 28 well-known Estonian entrepreneurs and businessmen announced the foundation of a new think tank, called the Foundation for State Reform. The think tank comes with a predefined lifespan of a year and the aim to come up with a concept for thorough state reform as well as an outline of the necessary legal changes, to be submitted to parliament and the political parties in November this year.
According to co-founder and member of the fund's supervisory council, lawyer Jüri Raidla, the foundation doesn't have the goal to start a new movement or party, but is "strictly apolitical".
Reform and renewal of the state has been discussed for nine years now, Raidla said. The new foundation is intended to create the "tools and platform" to actually get to solutions that can be implemented as well. "We don't want to criticise what has been done so far," Raidla said. "We don't want to fight anyone or beat anyone, but simply to contribute to Estonia's renewal."
As a first step, the new foundation is aiming for Nov. 26 this year with a platform and program for state reform, to be submitted to the president of the Riigikogu as well as all of Estonia's political parties. Several of the suggestions mentioned in the foundation's Monday proposal would require constitutional changes that have to be approved by two successive parliaments.
Among the founders of the think tank are Andres Saame, Armin Kõomägi, Enn Kunila, Hannes Tamjärv, Heldur Meerits, Jaak Nigul, Jaan Pillesaar, Jaan Puusaag, Jaanus Otsa, Jüri Käo, Jüri Mõis, Koit Uus, Lembit Lump, Mark Berman, Mati Polli, Olari Taal, Olav Miil, Parvel Pruunsild, Peeter Mänd, Priit Kessa, Priit Piilmann, Raivo Hein, Tiina Mõis, Tiit Pruuli, Tiit Kuuli, Toomas Sildmäe, Viljar Arakas, and Vjatšeslav Leedo. All of them are contributing personal funds to cover the operating costs of the foundation.
The effort will be led by Raidla himself as well as former Chief Justice Rait Maruste. They are in charge of the think tank's work on a concept for state reform, an overview of necessary legal changes, and the explanations to go along with the different proposals.
The foundation's supervisory council is also joined by the chairman of the Estonian Employers' Confederation, Toomas Tamsar, as well as rector of the Tallinn University of Technology and former minister, Jaak Aaviksoo, and former Auditor-General Alar Karis, among others.
Core points of the Foundation of State Reform's manifesto of May 14:
- Reduce the number of state officials by half
- Reduce the number of ministries
- Increase the size of local government to that of the counties (i.e. drastically reduce the number of the only recently reformed local councils)
- Shrink parliament by ten to 20 mandates
- Apply the instrument of public consultations and votes more broadly
- Give the president one instead of two terms
- Make the courts independent from the Ministry of Justice
- Reduce the body laws by 25 percent
- Attach the office of the Equal Opportunity Commissioner to that of the Chancellor of Justice
Editor: Dario Cavegn