Tõnis Mölder: Revenge of the Reform Party – Lääne Elu

Tõnis Mölder. Photo by Alexander Guzhov
Tõnis Mölder. Photo by Alexander Guzhov

The Riigikogu State Budget Control Special Committee’s session revealed clear facts that the June 30 decision of the sole government of the Reform Party to exclude the Tallinn hospital project, the construction of the next stage of the Rohuküla railway and the coverage of Estonia with a network of medical helicopters from the recovery and resilience fund (RRF) funding plan was political revenge against the Center Party.

It was a counter move to the Center Party for the child and family allowance debate raised in the coalition. The fact that the cuts were a political decision was also acknowledged by the new Minister of Economy and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut at the session of the special committee on state budget control.

According to forecasts, the volume of the Estonian RRF fund was supposed to be slightly below one billion, i.e. according to the previous government’s decision, the volume of the RRF investment plan was 982.5 million euros. After the precise economic growth was revealed, the European Commission approved the Estonian RRF fund as a total of 863.3 million euros. However, the Reform Party decided to cut significantly more from the initial amount, i.e. 360.3 million. Objects related to the so-called Center Party, which had a wider regional dimension and a stronger impact on the quality of Estonian healthcare, were taken down.

The size of the reform party’s cut exceeds the size of the European Commission by several times, and with it, it created a 240 million euro buffer, the arrangement of which will only be discussed in the coming months in the new coalition. It is not excluded that, for example, the Rohuküla railway could be one of the objects of negotiations, but now it is simply possible to get your own “sausage” for this “sausage”.

The project concerning the Rohuküla railway had reached the furthest point in terms of its preparations, and the cost of the next stage was also known, and it did not exceed the limits of the allowed volumes of RRF funding. The winner of the state tender, which would build the next section on the Turba-Rist route, had been determined. In addition, the following sections were also planned, i.e. the Reform Party led by Kaja Kallas pulled the brakes on the project already when the train had left the station. The expected increase in the price of the project and the lukewarm interest of local residents in the project are given as reasons. As a result of the public procurement, the cost of the following works was known down to the penny, so the project’s price increase in this phase is excluded. In addition, the fact that, for example, the number of passengers on the new Turba-Riisipere section is ahead of many other train lines was left out.

Finally, from a political point of view, revenge is undoubtedly sweet for the Reform Party, but such a cynical decision does not harm the Center Party and its voters, but the entire Estonian people. Statesmanship and political continuity are important in politics, even if one does not completely agree with all the decisions of the now former coalition partner.

The state and local governments are facing legal disputes regarding the changes to the RRF financing plan, and with a high probability, the state can currently write about 20 million euros in the so-called chimney with this decision. The future of these projects is bleak, and the future fate depends to a large extent on the efforts of the ministers of the new coalition to stand for the continuous financing of these projects during the state budget strategy discussions. At the moment, it has only been done with supportive words.


Source: Lääne Elu by online.le.ee.

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