NEW YORK, 8. JUNE 2001

Mister Chairman,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to participate in this meeting-devoted to the fifth pear "birthday" of the conference of human settlements in Istanbul. I believe that this forum serves a useful function in providing participants with an opportunity to discuss questions related to the issues that are close to everyone in an open-minded and friendly setting.

With the current short presentation I try to distinguish some of the issues indicating the role of local governments in elaboration and implementation of housing policy in Estonia. Particular respect is paid to outstanding trends in the nearest future that regard to prognosis of development in housing policies.

On the national level the development of housing policy in Estonia belongs to the competence of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Minister is responsible for arranging the involvement of different stakeholders in the policy process. As a principle, representatives of both private and voluntary sectors are included in the development of policies.

The main principles of the housing sector are:
to guarantee affordable dwelling;
to increase administrative capacity of the third sector, and
to specify public functions, improve the efficiency of legislation on the basis of the Development
Plan for Estonian Housing up to 2010. The plan was developed by wide-based expert committee in 1998, but has not yet been approved by the Parliament.

As far as the central government is concerned, it

develops overall housing policy;
collects and analyses statistical materials;
informs the public about the situation in the housing sector, also about regional differences;
gives guidance to privatization process;
facilitates renovation or establishment of dwellings by residents (all interests of housing loans are
totally tax-free); monitors housing policy implementation.

Also Board of Consumer Protection should be mentioned, whose task is to stand for the protection of legal rights of consumers and to represent their relevant rights. The Law on Local Government Arrangement stipulates that local authorities are responsible for:
local development plans;
management and administration of local housing policies;
drinking water and sewage systems;
common weal, street cleansing; territorial planning, coordination and monitoring of construction activities.
In addition, local authorities are responsible for arranging the overall administration of municipal dwelling stock. Its financing is arranged as follows:
Municipality finances common weal, street cleansing, maintenance and repair works, maintenance of street lighting systems.
Consumer finances running repair works and renovation of dwellings, drinking and sewage water.

Voluntary organizations have been allocated a possibility to administer and maintain dwellings in particular via apartments' associations.
An outstanding tendency is that the share of non-profit dwelling associations is predicted to increase. The representatives on non - profit sector are actively participating in legislative process.

It is difficult to distinguish the clear allocation of roles in the private sector compared to other sectors. The role of private sector in the housing policy area today is characterized by:
financial services, including special affordable loans;
real estate business. The share of private sector in maintenance enterprises is increasing, nevertheless municipal enterprises still hold remarkable share in bigger cities.

The role of arranging housing today in Estonia is mostly allocated to local authorities. When distinguishing the functions among public, non-profit and private sectors, the privatization of dwelling stock as well as municipal real estate maintenance enterprises is notably fast and is predicted to continue in the future.
As an example from the national housing policy, I would like to note the tax relief of interests of housing (dwelling) loans. This is considered to be a clear indicator of Estonian national policy towards solving housing issues, and with that respect, is targeted to direct implementation of the Habitat Agenda's principles.

Observing the role allocation between public and private sectors, a direct conclusion can be made. Namely, the share of public sector is decreasing in every part of the housing sector. This trend is supported by the national policy with its clear support to non-profit sector.

Mister Chairman,

In order to implement the Habitat Agenda, to guarantee adequate shelter for all and develop sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world, in our opinion, there are two ways: through the Central Government or via residents.

The Republic of Estonia. has chosen to increase the role of its residents to implement the principles of the Habitat Agenda.

Thank you, Mister Chairman