Former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) told the anti-corruption select committee all expenses made during his term in office were related to work.
This week, Ratas has come under criticism for lavish expenses of his office financed by the Government Office after a report was published by the newspaper Eesti Ekspress.
At an extraordinary video meeting of the anti-corruption select committee, Ratas offered explanations regarding claims published in the media on the use of public resources for private interests during his time in office as the premier, spokespeople for the Riigikogu said.
Chairman of the committee Eduard Odinets (SDE) said Ratas told the committee that he had not broken any rules and that all expenses had been justified and resulted from his work as the prime minister without exception.
"Jüri Ratas affirmed to members of the committee that he didn't have the Government Office pay for anything related to his personal expenses or those of the Center Party, and that all expenses covered by the Government Office were related to his work as prime minister," Odinets said.
Ratas said that he has always done his work from the heart, and as prime minister he was at all times guided by the notion that he represents all of Estonia; all the expenses related to work and were made within the prescribed rules and limits, he added.
€24,000 per year has been earmarked by the Government Office for representation costs of the prime minister's office and this figure was not exceeded, he said. Professional staff had been tasked with the planning of expenditures, Ratas said, who added that he was not personally involved in said activity.
Deputy chairman of the anti-corruption select committee Valdo Randpere (Reform) said that the monitoring of high-level officials' spending has at times exceeded reasonable limits and what should really be determined instead is the volume of resources earmarked for the prime minister's work.
Randpere said it was odd that the prime minister's spending should be investigated after the end of their term in office. Any problems should be pointed out during the term of office, he said.
The expenses in question were mostly related to travel and gift costs.
Editor: Helen Wright