The Riigikogu passed two Acts:
The Act on Amendments to the Structural Assistance for the Period of 2007‒2013 Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (836 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 58 votes in favour. The amendments add to the Acts more detailed rules on the granting and refunding of assistance, in order to ensure more effective use of the assistance. As a preventive measure, the authority to set target levels of the use of the assistance to the ministries planning the measures is provided. In order to ensure the coordination of activities, an obligation to approve programmes with the managing authority is expressly added. Cross-measure criteria for assessment of the financial capability of local governments are established. With a view to reducing the administrative burden, there will be an opportunity to establish in the Regulation on Reclaims and Refundings a minimum amount of reclaim starting from which assistance will not be reclaimed. The Act will help prevent the arising of hopeless reclaims by allowing to refuse to pay assistance if the final recipient fails to complete the project. In order to mitigate the liquidity problem of the European territorial cooperation and European and neighbourhood policy programmes, it will be possible to apply for self financing assistance.
The Act on Amendments to § 17 of the Food Act (883 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 68 votes in favour. The amendments will bring the Food Act into conformity with the corresponding Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. Pursuant to the Act, the requirements concerning flavourings will no longer be provided in national legislation but in a directly applicable EU Regulation.
Former Member of the Riigikogu Jüri Adams, former Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks and Deputy Chairman of the Social Democratic Party Faction Indrek Saar made reports at the deliberation of the matter of significant national importance “Financing of Political Parties”.
Adams spoke about the financing of political parties in Estonia and the problems connected with it through the years. He had to admit that there was no perfect system of financing of political parties anywhere in the world, everywhere the system had its “finesses” and also shortages. “The main pattern is connected with how much and what kind of donations it is legal to collect, and another issue is how much the taxpayer on his or her free will gives to the political parties for their work,” Adams highlighted the trends.
Jõks presented his vision of hidden financing of political parties. He made several proposals. In the opinion of Jõks, the system of financing of political parties from the state budget should be amended so that in the future the allocations from the state budget would cover only a reasonable part of operating expenses: the maintenance of staff and office. He thought only the money from donations that are exempt from income tax could be used for elections expenses. The donations of both natural persons and legal persons should have a ceiling. Jõks considered it necessary to increase the legal responsibility for hidden financing of a political party. “Only efficient and consistent supervision can bring along changes in the political culture,” the former Chancellor of Justice said.
Saar also spoke about the possibilities of making the controlling of financing of political parties more effective. He stressed that elections should not bring along a threat to security. “Or it means that the money should not come from a foreign state, not from the funds of the state, and also not from state and municipal enterprises or the funds directly connected with them,” Saar said. He admitted that we had left this clause out of our Act in 2003, although the rest of the European Union considers it obligatory. Saar thought it was necessary to discuss this issue once again. “But in the end it all comes down to the question: are the political parties forced to participate in arms race and what is the pressure to get money at all costs?” Saar stated. As the representative of the initiator of the deliberation, Saar remarked that actually today’s discussion of the issue directed the society’s attention to the problem. He found that on the background of the threats and arguments that were highlighted, the public would observe a little more what we spent and did during this election campaign and what we claimed afterwards.
Andres Herkel, Valdur Lahtvee, Sven Mikser, Aivar Riisalu, Tõnis Kõiv and Mai Treial took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu Press Service