Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center), in a letter to the Ministry of Finance, demanded the State Shared Service Center (RTK) pay out state support to partner organizations of the Ministry of Social Affairs by Friday. He called halting the funding for NGOs promoting equality an unlawful action.
ERR News wrote on July 13 that on the orders of the minister of finance, the state halted funding to three projects promoting equality. Kiik called the minister's order unlawful and believed it was a political action on his coalition partner's part.
On July 14, ERR News wrote that Kiik expressed hope that the funding for the Estonian Women's Studies and Resource Centre (ENUT), the Human Rights Centre and the Estonian Women's Associations Roundtable could be allocated from resources available in the state budget.
Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) however did not see such an agreement being reached in the government.
Helme said on Wednesday: "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."
On Thursday, Kiik sent a letter to Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Raul Siem (EKRE), who is standing in place of Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) and Director General of RTK Tarmo Leppoja, in which he stated that Siem's decision to halt funding for NGOs promoting equality is illegal, news portal Delfi reported on Thursday (link in Estonian).
Kiik wrote: "Your letters and actions are incomprehensible to us because money from the gambling tax is allocated to the Ministry of Social Affairs and the usage of that money is decided on by the Minister of Social Affairs. The NGOs have been paid state support twice before and the legal situation and stance of the ministry has not changed during that time."
He also noted that the actions of RTK fall under the jurisdiction of Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center), therefore leaving the Ministry of Finance no legislative basis to stop funding for NGOs.
Kiik also emphasized that according to the Gambling Act and Government of the Republic Act, money from the gambling tax is for the Ministry of Social Affairs to allocate.
The social affairs minister penned: "Organizations who have acted lawfully and are promoting gender equality and equal treatment should not have to suffer by arguments of government agencies."
He wrote that the Ministry of Finance should stop their unlawful actions and funding for the NGOs has to be confirmed by 3.00 p.m. on Friday at the latest.
ENUT, the Human Rights Centre and the Estonian Women's Associations Roundtable were expecting to receive close to €75,000 in funding. They should receive over €500,000 in state support by 2022.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste