Estonian Regional Minister Madis Kallas steps down

  • 2024-04-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Regional Minister Madis Kallas is leaving his post on Tuesday, with his ministerial powers ending at midnight.

"I took on the role of minister with the desire to fight for Estonia's rural life and to reduce regional inequalities. When I started in my position and spoke with farmers, food producers, and people in rural areas, I realized even more how critical it is to address the issue of ensuring that life in rural areas is ultimately not lost," Kallas said. "Coming from Saaremaa, I felt this responsibility and today, looking back at the past year, I see that the goals set when I took office have not been fully met."

Kallas said that the last month has brought breakthroughs in many important issues, but agricultural and regional policy must be conducted consistently and on par with other important topics.

"I am pleased that we reached an agreement in the government on more sustainable funding for municipalities and found an opportunity to open a 20 million euro land capital loan measure from the Rural Development Foundation. Additionally, a long discussion on compensating for damages from African swine fever was resolved, and we finally decided to allocate 1.2 million euros to entrepreneurs," he said.

"This decision was not at all easy for me. I have served as the regional minister for one year and am very grateful for the opportunity to work for the good of Estonia's rural affairs. The office of minister is full of challenges, and it has been a great honor to work with the staff of the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture, the Estonian agricultural sector, and local governments to make every part of Estonia a good place to live," Kallas added.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture Marko Gorban thanked the minister and his team for their dedication and work. Gorban said that the minister's time in office was action-packed.

"The creation of the Regional and Agricultural Ministry was implemented, preparations were made for changes to the local government revenue base, preparations for a mobility reform were made, extraordinary support was paid to the agricultural sector, several plans were initiated, and decisions were made to create the Land and Spatial Agency. This is only a small selection of achievements during the minister's year in office. However, this list gives an overview of the broad and important area the Regional and Agricultural Ministry is responsible for and the issues that await the new minister," he said.

Leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Lauri Laanemets commended Kallas for his significant achievements.

"The government agreed last week on a detailed Robin Hood plan, which will increase the funding of local governments in rural areas and small towns. Also, several measures to support county centers and growth regions, including changes in land tax. In addition to reducing regional inequality, an agreement has also been made to support farmers through the Rural Development Foundation and plans for a public transport reform are essentially ready."

Kallas is to continue his work in the Riigikogu. His tenure as regional minister lasted from April 17 last year to April 16 this year.