Cutting red tape to continue, promises incoming minister

Minister of Regional Affairs Jaak Aab (Centre).
Minister of Regional Affairs Jaak Aab (Centre). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Incoming Minister of Regional Affairs Jaak Aab (Centre) has pledged to cut the number of government officials, particularly in regional government, and centralise support services.

The move follows long-standing controversies over bureaucratic red tape in Estonia, and ongoing reforms in the public sector, and was one of the topics agreement was reached on by the Centre Party in its talks with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa.

The incoming cabinet has seen a renaming of four ministers' titles, compared with the previous administration; as well as Mr Aab as Minister of Regional Affairs, ministers for social affairs (Tanel Kiik, Centre), foreign trade and IT (Marti Kuusik, EKRE) and population affairs (Riina Solman, Isamaa) replace the old minsters of public administration, entrepreneurship and IT, social protection, and health and labour.

Jaak Aab himself previously held the now-extinct public administration role.

As to exactly which government agencies might experience the axe, Mr Aab said that it was not his intention to intimidate any officials at any agencies, and that the emphasis was continued state reform.

''This is not a task for just one state minister; the bodies are divided into the administrative departments of the ministries, and the decision should be a joint one. However, I am ready to make a start on this decision, and to talk to the coalition parties, with potential concrete areas named,'' he told ERR on Friday.

''When talking about the ongoing process over the past three years, more than 800 positions have been removed – not a bad total given the target was 1,000,'' he continued, noting that nonetheless, centralising public functions would continued.

One particular area of focus will be the effective distribution of EU money, he said, adding that the state budget strategey is due by the end of May, making it clearer what goals the new coalition might be able to achieve.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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