According to chair of the Riigikogu's Finance Committee Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), political parties represented at parliament must submit their proposals for the distribution of this year's "protection funds" (katuseraha) next Monday. This year, a total of €4 million, or around €39,600 per MP, will be distributed. Single grants cannot be lower than €5,000.
"It is voluntary. Any member of the Riigikogu who wants to apply [for the funds], can. If they don't want to, they don't have to," Kokk said. Last year, seven Reform MPs and one Isamaa MP opted not to apply for the funds.
According to Kokk, the conditions for organizations to be eligible to receive the "protection money" are unchanged from last year. Non-profit organizations (NGOs) and foundations to which the funds are to be allocated must have been active for over 12 months and have submitted an annual financial report for last year. Any money granted must be used either for investments or to support operational costs.
The Riigikogu's Finance Committee will meet on December 1 to discuss the proposals it receives.
Last year, €3 million, or around €30,000 per MP, was allocated. The year before, however, the amount earmarked was more than €6 million.
"Protection money" ("Katuseraha" in Estonian, literally "roof money") has been distributed annually in Estonia since the 1990s. Each year an amount of money is set aside to be allocated to non-profit organizations and foundations at the discretion of Riigikogu members, and according to the needs of the different parties. Decisions regarding the allocation of "protection money" take place annually towards the end of the year.
The funds are often put towards regional projects, while the timing of their issuing coincides with voting on the annual state budget. This has prompted many to claim that the "protection money" is a quid pro quo to get MPs from all parties to vote through the state budget bill, which must take place by year end.
Editor: Michael Cole, Andrew Whyte