The 13 Estonian nonprofit associations whose funding with proceeds from the gambling tax was halted by the Finance Ministry will be financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs in the future, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said on Friday.
The minister pointed out that the opinion that there is no legal basis for discontinuing payouts from gambling tax proceeds to the strategic partners of the Ministry of Social Affairs has been voiced by lawyers from seven institutions of the state and upheld by a legal analysis by the Ministry of Justice.
Kiik said the Ministry of Social Affairs has decided that they will not put the State Shared Service Center (RTK) in a situation where they have to choose which of the ministries is right, and will consequently discontinue cooperation with RTK in the disbursement of support from gambling tax proceeds. As partners to the Ministry of Social Affairs, the 13 nonprofits will in the future get their contractual funding from the Ministry of Social Affairs.
"The Ministry of Social Affairs is the champion of social, health, labor and equality policy of Estonia. People's coping, health, and social protection, including promoting the wellbeing of elderly people and people with special needs is a competence of the Ministry of Social Affairs, and hence sectoral decisions are and must be made by the ministry. Advancing and supporting these fields is our duty, and it must continue also in the future," the Center Party minister said.
An agreement on the provision of support services has been concluded between the Ministry of Social Affairs and RTK, which include the conduct of payouts of support financed under the Gambling Tax Act.
"In light of the differing opinions as regards interpreting the Gambling Tax Act that have been revealed this year, it is advisable to change the existing agreement and continue making payouts to strategic partners and small projects from gambling tax funds in such way that they are organized immediately by the ministry," the minister said in a letter to RTK.
The strategic partners to the Ministry of Social Affairs are the Estonian Foundation of Disabled People, the Estonian Red Cross, the nonprofit SA Vaartustades Elu, the Estonian Union for Child Welfare, the Estonian-Swedish Mental Health and Suicidology Institute (ESIS), the Estonian Human Rights Center, the gambling disorder counseling NGO Hasartmangusoltuvuse Noustamiskeskus, the nonprofit Kuldne Liiga, the Estonian Women's Studies and Resource Center (ENUT), the Estonian Association of Large Families, the Estonian-Netherlands Charity Foundation, the Estonian Association of Pensioners' Associations and the Estonian Women's Associations Roundtable.
Kiik said that the payouts are to reach the bank accounts of the nonprofits in the next couple of days.
"We will move forward based on the existing applications for project funding and will if necessary find sources of financing from the budgetary funds of the Ministry of Social Affairs," he added.
By now, a total of 2,771,268.8 euros has been paid out in grants to the strategic partners.