Phase II legislative package of the regional government reform circulated for comments until 19 June
On 24 April the Ministry of Finance sent out for comments a draft Government Proposal on the implementation of the regional government reform. The draft proposal is linked to the Government Proposal on the health, social services and regional government reform, submitted to Parliament on 2 March 2017 (HE 15/2017 vp).
The draft Government Proposal contains proposals for amending the special acts concerning certain duties to be transferred to the counties from the state, municipalities and joint municipal authorities. The responsibility for organising the services and duties included in the draft proposal would be transferred to the counties as of the start of 2019.
The draft Government Proposal also contains proposals for a new national supervisory authority. It would be assigned the licensing, steering and supervision duties of the state that are currently performed by the regional state administrative agencies, the centres for economic development, transport and the environment and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health. These agencies and centres would be dissolved in connection with the regional government reform. The national supervisory authority would start its operations on 1 January 2019.
The Government outlined the counties’ duties in April 2016. It also defined the principles for division of duties in the new administrative structure, stating that as of 1 January 2019 the counties’ duties will be based on a clear division of duties between the state, counties and municipalities. The counties’ duties are included in the Government Proposal for the Counties Act submitted to Parliament in March. Duties will be transferred to the counties from municipalities; regional councils; joint municipal authorities; regional state administrative agencies; centres for economic development, transport and the environment; employment and economic development offices and the Development and Administration Centre for the centres and offices.
The draft proposal now sent out for comments contains legislative proposals on implementing the transfer of duties to the counties in the fields of environmental healthcare, agricultural administration, fisheries and water management, water protection, water supply, education, promotion of culture and sports, archipelago traffic and joint services as well as certain other duties. Other duties referred to in the draft bill on the Counties Act will be transferred to the counties through other government proposals to be submitted to Parliament later in 2017.
National supervisory authority monitors fundamental rights in a number of fields
The health, social services and regional government reform involves also a restructuring of central government administration. An entirely new kind of model for ministries’ joint agencies has been developed. The Government proposes to establish a new national supervisory authority. This agency would have most of the duties of the current regional state administrative agencies and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health and some of the duties of the centres for economic development, transport and the environment and the Development and Administration Centre. The Government also proposes to dissolve the above agencies and centres.
The national supervisory authority would be a state authority with national competence and multi-sectoral duties. It would safeguard the realisation of fundamental rights and legal protection and protect the public interest by implementing legislation and by performing various steering and supervision duties. It would be a national agency that operates through offices in all counties, basing its activities on new, proactive and cross-sectoral practices. The Government Proposal also includes a proposal for an Act on the State Department of Åland. The State Department’s duties would remain largely unchanged.
Status of employees will be guaranteed in the reform
Good human resources policy will be respected in the reform. Employees will be transferred from the state, municipalities and joint municipal authorities to corporate entities owned or controlled by counties or corporate entities that belong to county corporations in accordance with transfer-of-business principles, so that they retain their current rights and obligations under the terms of their employment or public-service employment relationships. Employees under a fixed-term contract will be transferred to the new employer’s service for the duration of their contract.
When employees are transferred between state agencies, as a rule the positions and theirs holders will be transferred to the same agency or agencies where their duties are transferred. State employees under a fixed-term contract, too, will be transferred to the new employer’s service for the duration of their contract.
The regional government reform does not contain any targets for cutbacks on staff, and the aim is to avoid relocation of employees.
The Government Proposal is circulated for comments until 19 June 2017.
The request for comments and relevant material are available in Finnish and Swedish at lausuntopalvelu.fi and at the website for Health, social services and regional government reform.
Tuomas Pöysti, State Under-Secretary, tel. +358 295 163 012, tuomas.poysti(at)stm.fi
Ilkka Turunen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 097, Ilkka.turunen(at)vm.fi
Sami Kouki, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 129, sami.kouki(at)vm.fi
Jaska Siikavirta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 370, jaska.siikavirta(at)vm.fi