Rask: ministry to blame for payment scandal

  • 2009-06-10
  • By TBT Staff

TALLINN - Chairman of the Supreme Court Mart Rask has said that a letter originating from the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the wage scandal that has recently emerged involving disproportionately high wages for top officials.

Aripaev reported Rask as saying that a letter from the ministry suggested a slightly different way of calculating wages that allowed certain top officials a higher salary than outlined by law. Salaries of Estonian officials are calculated as a multiple of the average wage in the country.

"It could have been calculated on annual average salary or current quarter's average, which in the time of wage increase was higher than last year's average. The same applies when comparing salaries of all other state officials 's judges, PM, chancellor of justice, state secretary," Rask said.
Rask said that there is no provision delegating authority when regulating or specifying salaries of top state officials.

"It's not understandable how the salaries of ministers, chancellor of justice, auditor general, commander of the armed forces were calculated not on last year's average salary, but current quarter's average. Such wage calculation has no legal base," Rask said.

The Supreme Court chairman pointed to the salary earned by the auditor general as a clear example of how the difference in calculation can drastically increase salaries. "When the wage coefficient of the chairperson of the state court is 6 and the wage coefficient of auditor general was 5.5, then one may assume that the salary of chairperson of the state court is higher than auditor general's. It appears that the auditor general's annual wage was nearly 50,000 kroons (3,195 euros) higher than the chairperson of the state court's [salary]," Rask said.

Rask earned 698,790 kroons last year, auditor general Mihkel Oviir earned 746,365 kroons. Andrus Ansip, the prime minister, earned 859,922 kroons 's although his wage coefficient is 6 and he's supposed to earn as much as Rask.  "[I] Assume the letter has been compiled by officials from ministry of finance's administration department. The letter writes of interpreting law, interpreting average salary differently. The court has the right to interpret laws, not some administrative official. The letter describes a method how to get a more favorable Estonia average salary to pay to the ministers. It is a practice that is obviously unconstitutional," Rask said.

Rask said the letter originated from the ministry while Siim Kallas 's who was minister from 1999 to 2002 and now serves as European Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud 's held the post.  Kallas said he doesn't remember the letter Rask pointed to.
"I don't recall seeing that letter or participating in discussions regarding that letter. But when reading that letter it seems to me that giving such interpretations is in the competency of implementing power," Kallas was quoted by BBN as saying. 

Aripaev has said it possesses the letter, signed by Jarvan and Kallas from January 12, 2001, where Kallas and Jarvan explain salary calculation based on quarters.