Estonian MP: Govt avoiding assessments of bill seeking to dismantle ERJK

  • 2020-05-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Deputy chairman of the Riigikogu's constitutional committee Lauri Laanemets said that the Estonian government is trying to evade assessments of the bill calling for the dismantling of the Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) and placing its duties on the National Audit Office.

"It is unfortunate that the government, led by Prime Minister Juri Ratas, is holding back the content assessments of the ministries on the bill initiated by them," Laanemets told BNS. "The reason is also obvious, because the release of the Center Party from the proceedings initiated is criminal and the supervision of prohibited donations and misuse of public property will have no ground to stand on."

On Saturday, Laanemets, an MP of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE), sent letters to the prime minister, the justice minister and the minister of population. In his letter to the prime minister, Laanemets criticized the fact that the government had not given an assessment of the bill submitted by the coalition parties to amend supervision over the financing of political parties and demanded that this be done as a matter of urgency.

"Be statesmanlike and take responsibility for what is going on," Laanemets said in his letter to Ratas. "Before the first reading of the bill, I ask you to give the government's assessment of the bill and not to hide behind a five-week deadline for replying. The exceptionally fast handling of the bill has been a decision of you and the governing coalition, as confirmed by the chairman of the constitutional committee to the members of the committee," he added.

As the Ministry of Justice coordinates state anti-corruption activities, Laanemets requested an impact analysis -- what are the consequences of the coalition's bill restricting the right to issue precepts to parties to within three years of committing an illegal act and abolishing the high penalty fee of 0.85 percent per day, which has so far been successfully used as a coercive measure. Laanemets also posed the same question to Minister of Population Riina Solman, who is responsible for planning the development of civil society, including state funding for political parties.

Laanemets also asked the Ministry of Justice to assess the consequences of the implementation of the bill for procedures already initiated or the implementation of obligations not fulfilled by the deadline, referring to his previous criticism where amendments to laws may lead to suspension of ERJK proceedings against the Center Party.

"In your opinion, is a hypothetical situation where one party asks other parties for an advantage, such as the decriminalization of offenses committed by that party, to be regarded as trading in influence, or should the provision of the Penal Code be clarified?" Laanemets asked Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg.