Riigikogu to discuss expenses reform

The board of the Riigikogu will discuss reforming the MPs' expense claim system this week, in light of a former EKRE member's fuel claims. Larger changes, such as stopping filing claims, have also been proposed.

Riigikogu speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) said the time is right to review the rules and introduce restrictions on fuel compensation.

He said, in the future, a member of parliament should only be allowed to buy fuel for themselves and only one type of fuel. Additionally, only one transaction should be allowed per day.

Riigikogu vice-chairman Toomas Kivimägi (Reform) said he completely agrees with Hussar. He said the issue will be discussed on Thursday and a decision should be made as soon as possible to avoid damaging the parliament's reputation.

Riigikogu Vice Chairman Jüri Ratas (Center) said expense scandals offend society's sense of justice. He supported the idea of discussing reforms.

Speaking about fuel compensation, Ratas said the board could consult with Riigikogu party faction leaders before changing the system.

Deputy Riigikogu Speaker Toomas Kivimägi (Reform). Source: Erik Peinar/Riigikogu

The process for introducing small changes only requires agreement from Hussar, Kivimägi, and Ratas. However, the officials believe bigger reforms are needed that require changing the law and further discussion.

Kivimägi said MPs expenses could match the system in place for ministers, which only allows them to make claims amounting to 30 percent of their salary.

He suggested lowering it to 20 percent for MPs but added that filing evidence for expense claims, such as receipts, could be stopped.

"In fact, it's about time this nonsense stopped for once. On one hand, there will be less bureaucracy, and on the other hand, there will be a small saving for the state through this," Kivimägi said.

Hussar said he agreed but discussions need to be held about how much could be claimed on official visits abroad.

Not having to file expense claims in the future would require the agreement of all Riigikogu parties.

Kivimägi acknowledged that, in the long run, if this change is introduced, tightening requirements for fuel is pointless. But said it should be done now to stop further abuse of the system.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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