Transport bills related to regional government reform to Parliament
The Government has submitted to Parliament bills that will implement the regional government reform in the transport sector. The proposed acts would implement the transfers of transport-related functions, personnel and assets referred to in the Counties Act from the central government to counties. They would also implement the transfer of certain functions and personnel from the centres for economic development, transport and the environment to the Transport Infrastructure Agency and Traffic Management Finland.
The Government submitted its proposal to Parliament on 5 December 2018.
The centres for economic development, transport and the environment will terminate their operation at the end of 2020 and the counties will start operating from the beginning of 2021. Most transport-related functions in the centres will be transferred to the counties. The bills included in the proposal will implement the transfers of competence arising from this, especially regarding road management, transport system planning and arrangement of public passenger transport in the road, rail and air sectors.
Nationally centred functions would be transferred to Transport Infrastructure Agency and the responsibilities of the Transport and Communications Agency and the Transport Infrastructure Agency would be specified in the transport system planning.
The responsibility for arranging the services and duties included in the proposal would be transferred to the counties at the start of 2021. Organisational changes in government relating to the establishment of the National Supervisory Authority would be implemented from the beginning of 2021.
In future, the counties would carry out road management duties in maximum of nine road management areas in accordance with agreements to be made with government. The Road Infrastructure Agency would continue to operate as the party responsible for road management and the duties of the owner of the road network.
The counties could also take on some voluntary duties. The counties could, for example, plan and organise public passenger transport services and be responsible, alone or in cooperation with the counties or the cities and municipalities of the region, for the related duties concerning discretionary government transfers.
The proposed legislative amendments would also have impacts on financing. After the regional government reform, the organisation of regional road management, subsidies for private road ferries and ferry vessels, archipelago traffic and flight purchases for the Savonlinna-Helsinki route would be financed in counties with separate funding. Some tasks related to transport would be organised with universal central government funding: purchase and development of public passenger transport services, mobility management, construction and maintenance of some aerodromes and discretionary government transfers for private roads.
The separate funding is provided from the budget of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Ministry allocates it to counties and their road management areas for carrying out and arranging the transport duties that will be transferred to them. Universal, or non-earmarked, funding refers to funding to be transferred to the county directly from the budget of the Ministry of Finance and the county may independently make decisions on its use.
Most of the bills included in the proposal are part of the government proposal issued to Parliament in spring 2018 for amending the Highways Act and certain related acts. Due to the change in the schedule of the regional government reform, Parliament rejected the bills on the regional government reform but adopted the amendment proposals in other respects. With this proposal, the rejected bills, partly amended, are brought back for discussion.
Silja Ruokola, Director of Legal Affairs, tel. +358 40 580 0894