This fall, the Riigikogu Finance Committee will begin work on amending the State Budget Act, in a way that means in future, the committee, rather than the government, will be responsible for preparing the budgets of constitutional institutions, committee chair Annely Akkermann (Reform) told ERR.
"Indeed, we are preparing it so that in the future the budgets of the constitutional institutions will be discussed more by the finance committee. It is precisely this preparatory process that we want to move away from the government and to the finance committee," Akkermann said on Tuesday.
As things stand, the budgets of Estonia's constitutional institutions are prepared by the government within the framework of the state budget, which is approved by the Riigikogu.
According to Akkermann, the proposed change will definitely require an amendment to the State Budget Act, with a draft having already been drawn up by the previous Riigikogu.
"We will first put everything on the table see where the work of the previous Riigikogu has left off, what has been discussed, what has been retained, what has been discarded and what still needs to be discussed," Akkermann explained.
Akkermann said that the first working group meeting to discuss the amendment is set to take place on September 5. "In the first week of September, we will prepare an agenda item for the finance committee and we will start working on it as soon as the session starts," she said.
However, Akkermann also added, that it will not be possible to amend the State Budget Act by the time the next state budget, for 2024, is adopted.
"We will certainly not be able to change the mechanism by next year, because that requires a separate bill, which needs to be processed and enacted, and I also think it should be enacted half a year in advance," said Akkermann.
"In the best case scenario, if there is the understanding that there is a need to change the basis for the budgeting of the constitutional institutions, that could happen from 2025 at the earliest," she added. "For next year's budget, the current rules have to be applied, as it cannot be changed that quickly."
The funding of Estonia's constitutional institutions has been raised repeatedly due to their heavy dependency on the government, which thus calls into question their independence. A recent clash occurred between the government as represented by Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) and President Alar Karis, when the president's office explored the possibility of obtaining additional funding from the government.
Võrklaev told ERR on Tuesday that in the process of drafting the new budget, he had offered the constitutional institutions the opportunity to come to the government cabinet and also to the Riigikogu Finance Committee to present any issues they may have.
Estonia's constitutional institutions are the Riigikogu, the Government of the Republic, the President of the Republic, Bank of Estonia, the Supreme Court of Estonia, the Chancellor of Justice and the National Audit Office.
Editor: Michael Cole