Riigikogu to continue processing ERJK bill in autumn

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Paul Puustusmaa.
Paul Puustusmaa. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The Riigikogu will continue processing a bill which will liquidate party finance watchdog the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK) when the autumn session starts in September, the head of the constitutional committee said on Monday.

Head of the Riigikogu's constitutional committee, Paul Puustusmaa (EKRE) told ERR: "I am currently at a waiting position, once our autumn season starts and there are no changes in the thought process, it will continue as normal to a second reading."

According to Puustusmaa, the bill could have been processed before the summer but the committee did not want an accelerated procedure.

Puustusmaa added: "The opportunity was basically there, we could have done it procedurally. The question was more political."

Puustusmaa is asking the Social Democratic Party (SDE), who proposed 50,000 changes to the bill, to retract their proposals. "The first idea is to just talk humanly if they even understand what they're doing," he said.

Adding "It's a Pandora's box. If the procedure approves it, the next bill is going to have 600,000 changes or a million of them. It's deeply absurd."

Puustusmaa concluded since the changes were generated by a machine, his right to discuss them is in question.

The coalition parties Center Party, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa initiated the disbanding of ERJK and reassigning of its duties to the National Audit Office.

It was noted in the letter of explanation accompanying the bill that the composition of the ERJK does not fully comply with the criteria of independence.

On June 2, the coalition parties of the Riigikogu rejected a proposal from the two opposition parties, Reform and the SDE to remove the law. After lengthy discussions, the opposition SDE tabled around 50,000 filibuster amendments to the bill.

The ERJK supervises the legality of obtaining and spending the finances of political parties, as well as also election coalitions and independent candidates who participate in elections.

The main tool of the ERJK is the financial reporting information system, through which the reports on the finances of political parties are collected and published reliably and in a comparable format.

Social Democrats: the entire bill should be redone with all parties

Lauri Läänemets (SDE), deputy chairman of the Constitutional Committee told ERR the 50,000 proposed amendments started a discussion around the proposed law.

Läänemets said: "Before the proposals, there was no readiness for discussions. Puustusmaa announced the coalition has decided to force the bill through and our pleas to find a solution fell on deaf ears."

He added: "The only goal for that many amendments is to stop the procedure, to call the coalition out. Individual amendments do not help, the whole bill should be redone with the assistance of the parties. And until it remains a corrupt bill, I can't exclude making another 60,000 or 100,000 proposed amendments."

According to Läänemets, the effort to show 50,000 proposed amendments as a quirk in politics shows that EKRE has still not understood the seriousness of the situation - by supporting the bill, the infiltration of dirty money is also supported.

He added: "ERJK has to be made more efficient, not made powerless. I haven't heard of any party wishing to make financing more transparent, to see how much was actually spent on advertising."

Läänemets concluded: "50,000 amendments in the name of democracy should not disappoint EKRE, what should do it is the €50,000 that was donated to their coalition partner Center."

Indrek Saar, leader of Social Democratic Party, told ERR that a bill discussed by all parties would certainly not see the liquidation of party finance watchdog EKRE, but would most likely give them more power instead.

The Reform Party has also submitted a proposed changed to the bill.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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