Riigikogu board undecided on MP expenses misuse, to consult with parties

The Riigikogu in Tallinn.
The Riigikogu in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Riigikogu board has not yet reached agreement on how, and indeed if, MPs' expenses reimbursement regulations might be reformed. The issue has come under the spotlight in relation to the use of the parliamentary fuel payment card in particular.

The Riigikogu board consists of the speaker of the house and their two deputies.

Riigikogu speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) is next to speak to all six represented parties on the issue.

Speaking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) on Thursday, Hussar said: "One option is to reduce expense allowances and end their administration (ie. to cut bureaucracy – ed.). Eesti 200 has also come up with a proposal to cut expense allowances."

"The Conservative People's Party of Estonia faction has submitted a bill to the Riigikogu regarding the abolition of expense allowance also."

Deputy speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) said that an expense allowance essentially becoming a wage top-up is not a good state of affairs.

"I think the most important thing is that a member of the Riigikogu is based on one simple principle: This is taxpayer's money, which must be handled very frugally. Its use must also be very clearly and concretely related to work-related expenses," Ratas said.

Journalist Urmas Jaagant, from investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress, meanwhile says that the Riigikogu should have more serious work to do than checking up on refueling.

"There are many other things that the Riigikogu should be focusing on. The [2024 state] budget is not as comprehensible as it could be," adding relations between the executive and the legislature and the latter's supervision of the former as other topics.

"But all this is getting overshadowed by seemingly simple issues that actually concern only a handful of MPs. This problem is not very big, but a solution is sought every time the issue of expense allowances comes up again," said Jaagant.

The current procedure for using taxis and fuel payment cards was also briefly touched up at Thursday's session, Hussar said.

On receiving these, an MP signs for them, which is supposedly a way of stating that he or she understands the privilege should is for personal, professional use only.

"I personally am of the opinion that if an MP is unable to adhere to this rule, then that fuel money must be claimed back from them," adding that no actual decision to put that policy in place has been made.

Ex-EKRE MP Kalle Grünthal recently hit the headlines as criminal proceedings have been launched into his alleged misuse of Riigikogu fuel privileges, to the extent that he was reportedly somehow able to simultaneously refuel a vehicle with both diesel and gas.

Grünthal has now left EKRE, or been expelled from the party, depending on whose version of events are before you.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Anne Raiste

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