Finance minister suspects several reasons

Rahandusminister Maris Lauri. PHOTO: Tairo Lutter

The dramatic «I quit» slip by Tax Board director-general Marek Helm Under indignant criticism for blanket control of company cars used for private rides took finance minister Maris Lauri (RE) by surprise.

Maris Lauri, have you received a quit note from Marek Helm?

Yes, I have, and I was so surprise as in my opinion the Tax and Custom Board has done a very good job increasing tax revenue and improving the competitive environment for business. Other countries have a very high regard to the way our tax board operates. They are interested in how Estonia is so well able to collect taxes and how the collection has increasingly improved. Therefore, the application by Mr Helm is a surprise to me and I wish to meet him and talk about what lies behind the application.

Were there conditions to the application?

No, no conditions here.

Understandably, Marek Helm just could not take the sharp public reaction to the company cars blanket control. Were you the politician who advised to end the raids?

In my imagination, this is not about one definite thing, but very many factors and the general background.

Do you mean the criticism regarding the tax board raids?

I’m not talking about the raids alone. Let’s look at the backdrop of several months: there have been many accusations against tax board and perhaps the amount thereof got too big.

What to make of it: before you praised Marek Helm, now you say there are the critical topics. Is it tax board’s poor PR, or have they overdone it with executing certain laws?

I’d like to talk to Mr Helm about what he sees as problematic.

Allegedly, a politician advised him to pull back with blanket control of official cars. Was that by some of your colleagues?

There have been several topics up about Tax Board activities. Perhaps then he just had enough.

Have you been hinted that the raids may have been unlawful?

You are trying to put words in my mouth. I do not intervene in Tax Board activities, they are doing their job. I believe things are done lawfully. As a minister, I cannot assume there are people working at the institutions who intentionally infringe law.

When will you decide regarding Marek Helm quitting?

I’m dealing with it; I think it will be settled by next week.