Elmar Vaher: it was important for me to buy good work equipment

Joosep Värk
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Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) director-general Elmar Vaher says he would agree to talk about stepping down if interior minister deems the incidents a conflict of values. 

-Would you be willing to explain when and why you bought these headphones?

I bought the headphones as work equipment at Tallinn Airport on my first day on vacation and on my way to Crete with my family. I had planned to get these for a long time but then came the vacation where I had the opportunity to work on the plane. A plane, you see, is a good place to be by oneself and therefore, there, one is able to read lengthy materials. Also, I had time there to wait and to purchase the headphones.

Let me underline: for very many policemen, headphones are work equipment. There is nothing new about PPA purchasing headphones. Like here, on the same floor, people are making shorthand notes of minutes from meetings, to say nothing about what the criminal policemen are doing – these are the relatively common work equipment.

-Why did the board need headphones in this very price category?

For me it was important, as with so many other things, that when we buy we buy good work equipment, and it was important for it to be interactive or noise resistant. To understand when someone is calling you, while ensuring the peace needed for the work as I was working laptop on my knees.

-Do other officials at PPA also possess headphones of that price category?

Yes headphones are in use here on this very floor where I also work. I cannot explicitly say if all are in the same price category, but definitely PPA has equipment with the noise reduction options.

-You mentioned the shorthand specialists – do they have headphones of this price category?

I cannot answer that right now. We may specify which kind they have.

-How many such credit cards do you have at PPA?

I cannot tell you the number, but I do know how many the managers have. Prefects, deputies, and director-general. But we have quite a large amount of credit cards for people on foreign missions, people who deal with expulsion from the country: convoy units, who take those being expelled to Vietnam, for instance. Definite the logistician has one, whose role is to buy things the PPA needs.  

-Interior ministry says there are 60. You said these are used by managers. For what purpose would they have to use these cards?

Well first and foremost it is meant for when an extraordinary situation arises – is something needs to be purchased while abroad, like staying at a hotel, then that needs to be paid for you see. And so I have also with my credit card, I think, three-four-five times in 2015 paid for the accommodations for me and my colleagues. Like in Saaremaa where we had a tragic time in the organisation. There we three suicides, policemen were taking their lives. Then, in Kuressaare, I paid for a psychologist who was a person outside the PPA and for the stay of regional head and myself.

This is an exception as broadly an individual will need to manage with his salary his whole life long.

-Have you considered resignation today?

I find that these purchases are linked to my work. Thus I see no cause to step down. I have told the interior minister that if he thinks this situation is a conflict of values – conflict of values, let me stress –, then we will talk, but today I see no need to file for resignation to interior minister.