Ministry of Social Affairs ends agreement with RTK to fund NGOs
The Ministry of Social Affairs will end its partnership with the State Shared Service Center (RTK) through which it finances its strategic partners and will bring the organization of subsidies back to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) has said.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Kiik said the decision was made in order to ensure consistent funding for the organizations. He said he did not want to put the NGO's in a situation where they would be stuck in the middle of an argument between the ministries.
"We do not put the State Shared Service Center in a situation where it has to decide which minister's word pays," the minister said.
Kiik said the currently canceled payments will be made within the next working days.
The source of the new payments is not yet certain, Kiik said, but added that there is time to find it. He said future payments will probably be made from the funds of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Speaking about the potential legal case between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Finance which was floated earlier this week, Kiik said: "A legal dispute would bring us victory in any case, but we have no desire or need to prolong this process."
Kiik added that equality is very important in Estonia and its denial is obsolete.
There are 13 strategic partners of the Ministry of Social Affairs which are supported on a quarterly basis.
Last Friday, three organizations the Estonian Women's Studies and Resource Centre (ENUT), the Human Rights Centre and the Estonian Women's Associations Roundtable did not receive the funding they had been allocated by the government.
ERR News reported on July 13, The Ministry of Finance (Rahandusministeerium) has suspended financing through the State Shared Service Center of projects in the field of promoting equal opportunities and gender equality from the proceeds from the gambling tax.
Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Raul Siem (EKRE), in his capacity as the acting finance minister during Martin Helme's (EKRE) vacation, said that the Ministry of Finance does not consider it right that the Ministry of Social Affairs continues to use the budget funds received from the gambling tax for the wrong purpose on the grounds that the recipients have a legitimate expectation to receive support.
The ministry is of the opinion that the State Shared Service Center, as a state agency implementing subsidies, cannot make payments from funds received from the gambling tax to projects that do not correspond to the areas specified in the Gambling Tax Act.
On June 16, Minister of Finance Martin Helme Kiik failed to reach an agreement regarding the withholding of funds and said the disagreement would now move forward in court. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) thinks support should be paid out.
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Editor: Helen Wright