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The President's Roundtable of Local Government held its first session

The President's Roundtable of Local Government and Regional Development today at the Kadriorg Presidential Palace held its first session to discuss the possibilities to advance local economy and to enhance regional competitiveness.

In addition to representatives of local governments and their associations also the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ain Seppik, the Minister of Regional Affairs, Toivo Asmer, and the Chairman of the Commission on Development of Public Administration and Local Government of the President's Academic Council, Professor Kalle Merusk, took part in the roundtable.

The representatives of local governments found during the discussion that the division of functions between the central power and the local governments should urgently be determined more accurately. On top of that, the principles of funding the local governments, and the role of county governments, county governors and associations of local governments needed to be specified. As the activities of the latters are supposed to be founded on law, the roundtable supported the Government's initiative to adopt a law concerning the associations of local governments.

In view of the participants in the roundtable, in order to promote enterprise our legislative basis, including fiscal laws, also was in need of supplementing. Peep Aru, representing the Local Governments Association of Viljandi suggested that free land be placed at the disposal of local governments, which would give an impetus for the development of enterprise.

Both the President and the members of the roundtable pronounced that only if a pertinent network and know-how were in place could Estonia use the means from structural funds of the European Union for supporting regional and municipal investments. Further it was added that creation of the mentioned prerequisites and co-financing alike had to be ensured by the state.

The roundtable underlined the necessity for a law on regional development and also Minister of Internal Affairs Ain Seppik saw in this law an opportunity for long-term strategic planning. Minister of Regional Affairs Toivo Asmer came up with the idea to unify the posts of the ministers without portfolio for population and regional affairs, and, combined with the corresponding department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to set up a new ministry – Ministry of Local Governments. According to the Minister, the local governments hitherto had no concrete partner in the form of a ministry.

The proposals made are going to be analysed by the commissions established with the President's Academic Council. The Roundtable of Local Government and Regional Development meets on a quarterly basis. The President of the Republic formed the roundtable and endorsed its rules of procedure by his executive order of June 05.

Press Service of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, June 20, 2002

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