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Chancellor of Justice: New state budget bill may be unconstitutional

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise.
Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Estonia's Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise has said that the bill of amendments to the State Budget Act currently in the Riigikogu may be unconstitutional in several aspects.

According to the Constitution, the Riigikogu has the right and responsibility to decide over all items of government revenue and expenditure in the annual state budget, Madise wrote to MP Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Center), chairman of the Finance Committee of the Riigikogu.

The Chancellor of Justice said that the Supreme Court en banc has highlighted that the budgetary powers of the Riigikogu are among its most important powers. "The Riigikogu's role in budget proceedings cannot be reduced to a formal role," she said. "The annual state budget is a concrete code of conduct for the executive power. In order for MPs to be able to effectively exercise their right to have a say, the annual State Budget Act and its explanatory memorandum need to be sufficiently detailed and understandable."

Madise said that joining together the processes of drawing up the budget strategy and the annual state budget do not justify leaving out of the law important parts of the proceedings of drawing up the annual state budget bill.

She noted that sections of the State Budget Act which regulate the level of detail and the process of drawing up the annual budget are planned to be annulled with the bill and to give the jurisdiction currently held by the Riigikogu over to the government. According to Madise, the Constitution does not allow for the Riigikogu to give up that much of their budgetary powers.

The Chancellor of Justice said that the solution included in the bill of amendments to the State Budget Act according to which the government will set requirements for the drawing up of the state budget is not in accordance with the constitutional requirement that national issues be decided by the Riigikogu. "The Government of the Republic draws up the annual state budget according to rules set by the Riigikogu and does not set conceptual rules themselves," she clarified.

According to the bill, the outline of the annual state budget is set to change considerably, including the abolition of the ministry precision outline on the level of the State Budget Act, leaving thes and lower-level outlining decisions in the powers of the government. "The law as such enables the government itself to set the basis and principles of the state budget's outline," she said.

Madise said that distribution of money between areas of government is not within the government's right to self-organization and in that regard the budget's outline will have to enable the Riigikogu to execute its constitutional powers and responsibility to direct the activity of the government through the state budget.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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