President Alar Karis' office has asked for additional funding to the tune of nearly quarter-of-a-million euros, to cover increased foreign travel necessitated by the current security crisis, and also soaring energy costs.
The office has asked that the money come from a planned supplementary budget for 2022.
The total amount requested comes to €247,500, ERR reports, and includes compensation for the soaring energy prices experienced during much of the presidency of Alar Karis, who took office last October, so far.
A letter addressed to finance minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) requested €190,000 of the total in the interests of Estonia's security, which has necessitated a higher-than-usual number of foreign visits President Karis has had to engage in since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began last month.
The letter, by Director of the President's Office Peep Jahilo, stated that: "Due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the resulting security situation, the President of the Republic has had to pay extraordinary visits to Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Brussels and Moldova."
"Because the security situation is highly unstable, various multi-lateral and bi-lateral coordination meetings at head of state-level have been added, which significantly affect the volume of travel expenses. There has also been a surge in the number of Ukraine war-related advisory level events," the director added.
As to the energy component, Jahilo wrote that: "The rise in energy prices has created a situation where the budget of the President's Office for electricity and heating costs is not enough to cover the expenses for the whole year."
"Based on the level of previous years, we have budgeted for €145,000 in our budget for electricity and heating costs. January and February have used up 30.3 percent of the budget for the entire year. Based on our calculations, we need additional funds to the amount of €57,500 from the 2022 budget to cover the costs of electricity and heating," the letter continued, meaning the €190,000 referred to above plus the €57,500 for energy bills gave the €247,500 total.
Jahilo stated that the head of state will need to visit international organizations more and more in the future, as a direct result of the Russian Federation's actions, including not only the UN in New York, but also the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the human rights council in Geneva, plus also presenting Estonia and its narrative at various security conferences.
Jahilo said that foreign visit budget has remained the same for Estonian presidents since 2015, when Toomas Hendrik Ilves was in office.
Jahilo added that the office not only has to pay the energy bills for the existing presidential office, but also both home and office bills for ex-presidents.
The three living ex-presidents are Kersti Kaljulaid, Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Arnold Rüütel.
The annual state budget is issued at the end of the preceding year to which it pertains; two supplementary budgets were issued in spring 2020 and 2021, in response to the Covid pandemic.
Editor: Andrew Whyte