'Protection money' bill to go to vote unamended

A Riigikogu sitting in progress.
A Riigikogu sitting in progress. Source: Erik Peinar/ Riigikogu office

No change has been made to the list of entries due so-called 'protection money' ahead of this year's full state budget.

The Riigikogu's finance committee passed the list unamended on Monday, for voting same day.

The scheme allows political parties to assign sums of money in proportion to their representation, to projects of their choosing, usually of a social, sporting, religious and particularly regional nature.

As such it is seen variously as greasing the wheels of the main state budget, or even a type of corruption, particularly by the Reform Party, which has long declined to dole out funds.

The three coalition parties, Center, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, this year are issuing their protection money handouts jointly, from a pool of €6.4 million.

The largest single recipient has also been controversial, an anti-abortion NGO founded in August, which has conducted one public march, is getting €141,000.

Six coalition MPs on the committee voted in favor of sending the "protection money" (in Estonian: Katuseraha, literally "roof money" - ed.) bill unchanged to the chamber, having fended off an opposition proposal to make amendments.

Other major recipients include Türi rural municipality government, which will be getting €120,000 for a creative house, and a Russian Orthodox church in the Ida-Viru County town of Jõhvi (€75,000 for a Sunday school and its fixtures and fittings).

The opposition Social Democrats (SDE) also take part in the practice, and this year had €300,000 to spend.

The largest beneficiary is the Estonian cyclists' union, which is to receive €21,000, and a sports club which will get €18,000 to promote ice rink-based sports, notably curling.

Voting on the state budget itself is due on Wednesday.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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