Ministry to change name with changing times

  • 2000-05-11
  • By Brooke Donald
TALLINN - What's in a name? A whole lot, says the state chancellery, which is currently working on a plan to change the name of the Ministry of Transport and Communications to something a bit more 21st century, something that would encompass the future functions of that ministry, which will be to oversee all information technology related issues in Estonia.

What have the government's info-specialists come up with so far? "The [Informatics] Council recommended to weigh renaming the ministry to Ministry of Communications," said Imre Sill, director of the Estonian Informatics Centre, the government agency in charge of making Estonia an information society.

What happens, then, to the transport part? "Yes, there is a problem with that suggestion" laughed Aap Tanav, press spokesman for the ministry. "It doesn't include the roads. But, there is another problem. The word 'communications' is a foreign word to Estonia. So, there are problems with the present name and the suggested name."

The word "side" in Estonian actually means "tied together" or "connected," representing the infrastructure functions of the ministry. "Communications," however, has been the accepted translation for the government ministry, Teede- ja Sideministeerium in Estonian, to date. The state would prefer picking a name that can be translated into English without corruption, Tanav said.

"We are open to suggestions."

Sill defended the council's suggestion saying that communication nowadays encompasses all types of interaction, even transport infrastructure. He added that the new name would also most likely be the Estonian adoption, "kommunikatsioon," from English to incorporate all meanings of the word, and not "side."

In fact, the plan to increase the Transport and Communications Ministry's responsibilities to include coping with IT makes sense. Currently, that fast-growing sector is dispersed between three agencies, with only phone, cable, television and radio related matters considered under the "Communications" header.

The State Chancellery houses the State Information Services, the Estonian Informatics Centre and the Government Communications Agency. A new proposal will centralize the services in the Ministry of Transport and Communications. And with that, will change the name.

"This enlargement activity should be reflected in the name," Sill said.

So far, preparations for the name and structural changes have been limited to finding a deputy chancellor to oversee the new IT division in the ministry. The government also approved on May 2 centralizing the IT offices at the ministry.

Tanav expects that Transport and Communications Minister Toivo Jurgenson will select the new head within the next two weeks.

A name change requires issuing new business cards and letterheads and posting a new sign on the door.

"I don't foresee problems with this," said finance ministry adviser, Daniel Vaarik. "For all the little things it would probably cost below 100,000 kroons. It is not like a bank is changing its name or a big corporation. It is just a ministry."