Kiik and EKRE disagree over funding for associations promoting equality

Tanel Kiik.
Tanel Kiik. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) hopes that projects whose funding was halted by Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) can be supported by resources available in the state budget. Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) however does not see such an agreement being reached in the government.

Tanel Kiik expressed hope on Monday that three projects, for which the Ministry of Finance halted funding for on Monday, can be financed from reserves allocated to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The Estonian Women's Studies and Resource Centre (ENUT) was supposed to receive €23,500 in state support last Friday, marking the third support payment for a project promoting gender equality.

Reet Laja, head of ENUT, explained that among other things, a conference on gender equality has been conducted and a library on social sciences has been maintained in the frame of the project.

Laja said: "The people who want to borrow books have been able to do so and also have been able to read our academic newsletter on our homepage. Because, as it comes out, many decided to work on their theses during the emergency situation."

Part of the money allocated to ENUT will go to their partners, including NGO Oma Tuba, who will use the funds to maintain feminist portal Feministeerium, paying for events, rooms and wages. ENUT did not receive the funds on Friday. They instead received a letter from the State Shared Service Center (RTK), in which it was stated that the support is delayed.

Laja said: "That's our position on it, the support is delayed."

She added that she does not know of any terminated contracts. ENUT will continue operating and will wait until the state transfers the support.

Laja said: "We can borrow from other projects for a few weeks. But that won't last too long. At the same time, even NGOs are resting during summer. We are not actively arranging any events, which is a relief currently."

ENUT, the Human Rights Centre and the Estonian Women's Associations Roundtable expected close to €75,000 in total support on Friday. They should receive over €500,000 in state support by 2022.

In a letter sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs, RTK called for alternative support measures to be considered immediately so the state could meet their end of the contract. RTK confirmed they are not allowed to allocate money from the gambling tax as of Monday.

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said on Monday that additional funding should be allocated to the Ministry of Social Affairs if they are responsible for supporting associations. He said the money should be taken from the government reserve.

Kiik said: "Whether that is from the government reserve, or whether it's out of next year's state budget. But not by violating the principle of legitimate expectations, violating the principles of dignified state governance, simply unilaterally informing of an arbitrary decision that has no legal justification."

Kiik said that the next step will be the Ministry of Social Affairs drawing up a written response to the Ministry of Finance.

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme: EKRE not in support of funding associations that split society

Kiik's coalition partner, Minister of the Interior Mart Helme said on Tuesday that EKRE is not in support of allocating funds from the government reserve.

Helme said: "There will certainly not be a consensus. Where is it written that funding must be ensured? Who has said that these associations need to be funded? Contracts are terminated. This particular contract has been unlawful from the beginning and it will be terminated. How can an illegal contract be in force?"

The former EKRE party leader does not agree with Kiik on the necessity to support the associations in question. He said the money already allocated should instead be returned.

Helme said: "I think the justified expectations of taxpayers have been deceived. The funding should actually be returned. Those associations should return the money and that would solve the problem."

Helme added that if the Ministry of Social Affairs finds funding for associations promoting equality from their own budget, he could support the projects promoting equality going forward. But he does not approve of them.

He noted: "I do not support funding organizations that create splits in society. For years and years, these organizations split society and the state is actually paying them for it."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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