Finance minister says cannot stop other ministries' direct fund allocations

Minister of Finance Annely Akkermann.
Minister of Finance Annely Akkermann. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Finance Annely Akkermann said that even though she does not support other ministers' proposals to allocate sums directly and without a competition, she had no choice but to forward the proposals to the Riigikogu.

The Ministry of Finance's proposal includes the following lines in the budget of the interior ministry: €700,000 for the construction of the Kastre Kindergarten, €700,000 for the reconstruction of a kindergarten in Tartu Municipality and €700,000 for the construction of the Värska High School in Setomaa Municipality. How does that sit with the logic of how the state budget works or that of public administration?

The Ministry of Finance puts together other ministries' proposals to amend the state budget bill that will then move on to the Riigikogu. These specific proposal to amend have been made by the minister of the interior [Lauri Läänemets].

The finance minister can introduce ceilings on proposed spending and make sure applications are in accordance with the law. Why the interior minister decided to make such proposals is a question best put to him. The finance minister needs to leave other ministries with freedom of decision in their administrative areas.

You told "Aktuaalne kaamera" news in October: "I have spoken up against the practice of Riigikogu 'protection money' in the past and remain of that mind today." Why did you not inform your colleagues that supporting local governments with ties to the minister's party in this manner is not in line with budget logic?

Indeed, they do not follow budget logic. I have been against the "protection money" (direct fund allocations by MPs – ed.) practice. I have been vocal about it for years, and I'm sure Lauri Läänemets is aware. However, I have no way to deny him.

Where do you stand on such budget allocations?

These interior ministry proposals, but also allocations to NGOs that are tied to specific political parties definitely aren't right. There must be fair competition for public funds.

If we have funds for school and kindergarten investments, we need to create a program and invite local governments to apply for funding. While there are no legal obstacles for doing what has been done in this case, it should not be done this way. That said, the finance minister cannot intervene in how other ministers spend their funds.

What is the problem when the minister tells us that they need a kindergarten in Kastre Municipality? Or when Minister of Public Administration Riina Solman (Isamaa) says that we need to give money to the Estonian Association of Large Families?

I believe that all local governments in Estonia could justify needing more money for schools and kindergartens. Just as I believe there are thousands of societies in Estonia perfectly capable of explaining why they need additional funds.

That is why public funds are distributed by having a goal and setting up programs where projects can apply for funding on a comparable basis.

What should the Riigikogu and Reform Party MPs do with these proposals? Could the parliament vote against them?

That is up to them.

What would be your recommendation for [Reform MPs] Jürgen Ligi, Aivar Sõerd or Kristen Michal?

It is a matter of the coalition staying together. A coalition that does not give its ministers freedom will not last. Let us say it is surely an ethical dilemma for Aivar Sõerd, and for Jürgen Ligi.

Should the Riigikogu decide to support MP Mihhail Stalnuhhin's proposal of allocating funds to Narva tank sympathizers' NGO Pomjat, will the money be paid out? I recall an anti-abortion NGO being asked for assurances that they will not pursue pro-life propaganda before the money was transferred.

"Protection money" is not simply transferred to NGOs' accounts no questions asked. A public contract is signed, and public funds cannot be used to insult public authority or fuel anti-Estonian sentiment.

We know what that particular NGO does, its goals and purpose. Is it possible that the Ministry of Finance will not be able to make the transfer?

I believe the finance ministry will not be paying these sums. They will not come from its administrative area. But I believe that every minister makes sure that such allocations cannot be used to fund activities aimed against Estonia and public order.

For example, should the money be paid out if they want to use it to buy candles to take to where the [T-34 tank] monument used to stand?

I do not think the money should be paid out if they want to light candles there.


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Editor: Urmet Kook, Marcus Turovski

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