TALLINN – A popular initiative titled Peretoetused oiglaseks! (Make Family Benefits Fair) on Friday thanked Estonian President Alar Karis for not promulgating the Family Benefits Act and urged politicians to amend the law so that it does not segregate children by the size of the family they live in and divide society.
"The president made the only right decision. His decision helps to break the shackles of the coalition agreement and restore faith in justice and law," said Liina Virolainen, one of the leaders of the popular initiative, expressing gratitude to the president on behalf of all members of the working group.
Teele Joks, a co-initiator of the petition, added that while the proceedings on the bill were underway, many politicians admitted that things were not right, but said there was nothing they could do, as it was all based on the coalition agreement and political reality.
"Many had doubts and criticized, but still voted in favor. I very much hope that politicians will use this additional opportunity given by the president to make the law fairer for all Estonian children and families," Joks said.
The popular initiative supports the proposal of Social Democrats to increase the child allowance for each child to 119 euros and the single parent's allowance to 80 euros per month, and to keep the family allowance at the current level. In such way, the amounts of support provided for in the state budget would be distributed more evenly between children and families, while the allowance for families with three children would still be almost three times higher than for families with two children.
The leaders of the popular initiative pointed out that the law will not be made fairer just by cosmetic improvements and the elimination of a technicality, and called on the parliamentary parties to support the proposal.
The Riigikogu on Dec. 7 passed the bill amending the Family Benefits Act, which called for an increase in family allowances from Jan. 1.
President Alar Karis decided on Thursday not to sign the bill into a law, citing deficiencies in legislative technicalities that amount to incompatibility with the Constitution.