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Riigikogu committee decides to ease rules for giving money to churches

St. Michael's Church in Kihelkonna, Saaremaa.
St. Michael's Church in Kihelkonna, Saaremaa. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

The Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, which on Monday reviewed a bill on the use of the proceeds from the privatisation of assets, decided to amend the draft legislation to enable all churches to seek money from the Ownership Reform Reserve Fund.

The committee decided to remove a provision in the section of the planned legislation on the allocation of money to churches that would allow for churches to be supported only if the support is meant to right an injustice caused through a breach of property rights.

"The amendment allows for the support of churches for different reasons," committee chairman Sven Sester (Pro Patria) said. He added that the decision on whether the grounds for support specified by a church in its application qualify will be made by the government separately in each individual case.

According to Uku Hanni, an adviser at the State Assets Department of the Ministry of Finance, a shorter legal text offers the government more fredom in deciding about support for churches. He pointed out that even though a broader circle of religious bodies will be eligible for support, the amount of money available for disbursement will not increase.

An estimated €6 million is expected to be received by Estonia in privatisation proceeds this year, and approximately €4 million in 2019.

Money from the Ownership Reform Reserve Fund will also be used for the demolition of empty apartment buildings that have become a hazard for residents of surrounding ares and the environment, as well as for resettling their remaining residents.

The second reading of the bill to amend the Use of Privatisation Proceeds Act, initiated by the government, is scheduled for 6 June.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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