We, 31.05.2023
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Taking the state apart and putting it back together. To be better

Oliver Kund
, reporter
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Photo: Pm

This week, Praxis the think tank blasted state reform as non-satisfactory. The state apparatus is all astir now. As outcome of that, finance ministry came public with their plan for rearrangements of state agencies. Their plan was the fist to be tabled.  

«This is our vision of the reform and it is shared by public administration minister Arto Aas,» assured finance ministry adviser Raido Roop.

True, all we have to do is proposals sent to government for consideration. Even so, the notes are remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, this is the first attempt to lay out ingredients of the state reform. Painting a picture: they are naming the domains crying for a cleanup.  

Secondly, chancellors and vice chancellors at ministries have named their ideas on how to optimise tasks of the state for improved quality and cost cutting.

«We were given a task: analyse the entire state. Take it apart and put it back together in a better way,» described Mr Roop. «Think about which tasks can be totally discontinued, how to cut parallel activities, and what tasks to delegate to others.»

They mainly toiled at focus areas. Of which transport was chief.

One instead of four

The chancellor advises to create a central transport agency instead of road administration, maritime administration etc.

As an improvement, people could apply for driving licence and recreational craft licence at the same place and at same speed. Support services could be cut. As Police and Border Guard Board was optimised, support service staff was cut by a half during five years.

On social sphere, health board, state agency for medicines, TAI and E-Health.  

The same applied to a bunch of final beneficiaries dealing with EU support such as EAS, Kredex, Innove, Archimedes, KIK and others.

It would be easier for finance ministry «to audit one than all eight,» said Mr Roop while pointing to easier application process.

Finance ministry is also outlaying options regarding county governments. In addition to closing these down or keeping them going, perhaps four regional centres could be formed tasked with supervision only. Or perhaps county governments could be strengthened. Main thing to consider. Which version would fir best with administrative reform.

By September, an action plan needs to be completed as to which state agencies are moved out of Tallinn.

«The starting point is that policy shaping ministries will not be moved out,» said Mr Roop. The state cites a painful experience with education ministry which has now begun to flow back to Tallinn – beginning with its minister and chancellor. «What we can move out is what has relatively little daily communication with ministries and government, thus not causing much movement of people.»

The reform might also improve the way assets are handled. For instance, fishing might be brought under one minister instead of two. Also, it might be analysed how to converge reckoning regarding natural resources, monitoring and issuance of mining permits.

Estonia’s 30 state museums are also being eyed.

«Estonia is leading the way in Europe regarding the number of state museums per 100,000 inhabitants and their staff. We will be analysing possible ways to cut that, such as by mergers,» said Mr Roop.

The government gets the analysis by end of May, to then decide.

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