Seeder: Surveillance of party financing needs to be more trustworthy

Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Kadri Põlendik / ERR

The coalition parties on Monday initiated the disbanding of the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK) and delegation of its tasks to the National Audit Office (Riigikontroll).

Isamaa chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder justifies the government's plan to transfer the surveillance of the financing of political parties from the ERJK to the National Audit Office with the claim that this would seem less dependent than previously.

"As they say about trials, they not only have to be but also seem trustworthy. When we are the ones appointing the audit performers, then that is a conflict which doesn't increase trust," Seeder said on Vikerraadio's morning program.

"The current system with the small committee, which has been appointed to track parties' financial actions by the parties by themselves, is not the best solution. In my opinion, it is reasonable and right to assign the task to the National Audit Office," he continued.

"With this, I'm not reproaching any specific ERJK cases, that here or there they have made mistakes — not at all. But it has to seem trustworthy. And for that reason, I think it's the best solution," he emphasized.

"Additionally, we are avoiding the duplicative activity, which should definitely be done in a country — concentrate the surveillance that the National Audit Office is already making to all other public authorities," he added.

Seeder also cited the transfer of control of local governments to the National Audit Office, which took place years ago.

"We didn't say back then either that the previous system was bad or that we distrust it," he explained. "But we considered that in the case of local governments, the National Audit Office should be given some additional tasks and powers. And now we are doing it with the parties — giving the office additional tasks and the right to exercise surveillance. So we want to make things better, not eliminate one or another thing."

Seeder confirmed that the ERJK is not going to be eliminated, but rather that this area needs to be strengthened.

"It's not only bad things that should be updated and improved, but also areas and things that can be improved and made more trustworthy," he said. "I really think that the National Audit Office is competent and more capable than the ERJK."

Seeder noted that because the president of the National Audit Office is appointed by the president of Estonia and not the party itself, this should demonstrate independence.

Candidates, not party image, bring votes to Isamaa

Commenting on Isamaa's low party ratings between elections, Seeder justified this by saying that the polls do not identify party politicians, but only party names.

"Political parties are fundamentally different — there are those who care about the sign or the name of the party, and those whose candidates and the names of the people are important. Isamaa cares for their candidates and people," Seeder said.

"We are not focusing on ratings, although voters will find Isamaa in the election situation," he added.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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