Party 'protection money' comes to €4.2 million, Reform declines funds again

The Riigikogu.
The Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Four of the five Riigikogu parties have submitted their proposals for so-called protection money, according to ERR, with the Reform Party refraining from making use of the funds.

Protection money, "Katuseraha" in Estonian, is funds reserved for allocation by each Riigikogu party to projects of each party's choice and reflecting its interests. The practice dates back to the 1990s and is seen by some as greasing the wheels for getting the following year's state budget bill passed.

Reform has once again declined any protection money. Last year, veteran Reform MP and former finance minister Jürgen Ligi deemed the practice a type of corruption.

Maris Lauri of the Reform Party's group said of this year's round of protection money that: "The Riigikogu being reduced, during the deliberation of the state budget, to an entity giving €1,000 here, €500 there and a couple of thousand to some other place is irresponsible and lacking in substance. It is ridiculous."

Individual sums to be distributed under the scheme exceed these figures, however.

A total of €4.2 million was earmarked, down from last year's €6.5 million, with €1.6 million of this going to the Centre Party's parliamentary grouping. A higher figure is still to be discussed at the Riigikogu, however.

"Each member of our group can disburse €50,000 and naturally, there are areas where we don't have a representative, and where we have contributed with various support measures," said Kersti Sarapuu, Centre Party group chair.

The Centre Party is providing support for sports clubs and associations, churches and not-for-profits, amont other beneficiaries, with the largest sum, €115,000, going towards the design and construction of a sports and recreation area in Tallinn's Haabersti district.

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa get €1.2 million each for regional investments and also aim to support churches and sports associations, as well as other activities.

EKRE's two largest disbursements, €50,000 apiece, are to be allocated to the non-profit association Miikaeli Ühendus in support of Kohila basic school, and to the non-profit Children and Young People's Diabetes Association, for the purchase of insulin pumps and accessories. 

Isamaa's largest grants go to Paide city government, which is to receive €40,000 for repairs to the town's Music and Theater House, and to the Spot of Tallinn action sports center, which will receive €35,000.

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) is granting €200,000 to sports associations and churches.

Finance committee proposes amends

The Riigikogu's finance committee has amended proposals which do come to €6.5 million, the same as last year's figure, but these include amendments that failed to garner sufficient support in second readings.

Committee chair Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) said that the amended motions concern childbirth allowances as well as adoption and redundancy benefits, and income tax on large families' home support, energy efficiency support in residential buildings, and hoped increases in transitional support for farmers.

The finance committee is to discuss these proposals next Tuesday, it is reported.

Readers with Estonian can see a fuller breakdown of the four parties' protection money allocations here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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