Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) seeks tighter supervision over political party financing than that proposed in a bill that is currently being handled by the Riigikogu, which would abolish the current watchdog, the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK).
Aeg has signed a proposal to tighten supervision over the financing of parties, election coalitions, and single candidates compared with the bill undergoing parliamentary proceedings.
"Due to the important role of political parties in implementing representative democracy and the large share of public resources in parliamentary party financing, I deem it crucial that supervision over party financing should be efficient and impartial," Aeg said. "The National Audit Office has the required professionalism and trust of the society."
The bill put forward by the coalition would transfer the ERJK's tasks to the National Audit Office (Riigikontroll).
In its letter to the government, the Ministry of Justice pointed out circumstances that should be paid attention to in the course of the handling of the Riigikogu's bill.
The Ministry of Justice does not support the imposition of a deadline of up to three years for issuing a precept upon a breach of financing requirements. This would mean that from January 1, 2021, the administrative body would no longer be able to issue precepts for breaches committed over three years ago.
"The issue is that the three-year deadline is shorter than one parliamentary election cycle, and the activity of the ERJK has shown that some violations may not become known until many years later. I am in favor of maintaining the notion of reasonable processing time as stipulated in the Administrative Procedure Act, and I see no need for amending the law in this regard," the minister said.
The Ministry of Justice added that it is also important to ensure that when the task of supervision over party financing is handed over to the National Audit Office, the latter should be able to continue ongoing proceedings. To prevent any disputes and to ensure legal clarity, the ministry recommends the corresponding provisions be included in the bill.
"It was done similarly when the Agricultural Board and the Veterinary and Food Board were reorganized into the Agriculture and Food Board," he said.
"If the National Audit Office is to be tasked with supervision over party financing, the compability with the tasks imposed on it has to be assessed by the Constitution. Additionally, it has to be analyzed if the National Audit Office can supervise all sources of income listed in the Political Parties Act, which in addition to allocations from the state budget also include membership fees, donations and income from transactions with the party's property," Aeg said.
The minister also referred to the position of the chancellor of justice according to which the National Audit Office has the independence, mandate, powers, financial resources and staff required to efficiently carry out said supervision.
Editor: Roberta Vaino