National Audit Office: MPs should be shown vaccine purchase contracts
In a response to Isamaa Party chairman and MP Helir-Valdor Seeder, the National Audit Office said on Wednesday that the Ministry of Social Affairs should make it possible for MPs to look at vaccine purchase contracts.
"I see that an MP should be able to access information, which results in financial or other obligations to the Estonian state. An MP requires this information to perform their duties, which are to check the activities of executive power, meaning parliamentary checks," said state auditor-general Janar Holm.
Helir-Valdor Seeder turned to the Riigikogu after Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) did not allow him access to information regarding Estonia's obligations when it came to vaccine acquisition. Seeder asked for all the contracts and an overview of obligations imposed on Estonia.
Kiik did not allow Seeder to access the information and explained that the information in the contracts is not meant for general use. Since the European Commission signed the pre-purchase contracts with vaccine manufacturers, the European Commission as the information holder, has imposed an access restriction on the confidential information in the contract.
Holm said the restrictions cannot be reason alone to not allow an MP access to the information. "An MP cannot be considered as just anyone when ensuring someone access to information," the auditor-general said.
"An MP being given access to information is based directly on the Constitution and there is no legal basis for restricting it, even in the case of business secrets. At the same time, I see that it is important for an MP to consider how such information can be protected from being made available to the public, as it can endanger entrepreneurial freedom," Holm said.
The National Audit Office responded to Seeder's query about being able to see the vaccine procurement contracts positively, but noted that the social ministry has not forwarded the contracts to the National Audit Office yet.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste