The change was spearheaded by members of the ruling Reform Party that has steered clear of the practice in recent years. Seven Reform MPs decided not to participate this year, with the money kept in the state budget instead of being distributed between the remaining MPs.
The aim of changes is to render direct investments more transparent. Coalition and opposition MPs get to hand out the same amount of money.
The total protection money sum will fall €3.94 million short of last year’s, dropping from €6.72 million in 2020 to €2.78 million this year.
Reform Party whip Mart Võrklaev said that it remains to be seen whether the changes will improve the situation and add transparency or whether additional measures will have to be taken.
Another important change is that NGOs and foundations need to produce the previous year’s annual report to qualify for direct investments. This makes it impossible to allocate funds for so-called last minute bodies created expressly for the purpose. It is also possible to support local governments this year, which opportunity several MPs have taken.
Closer look at sums still speaks of nepotism
Despite unprecedented protection money scrutiny, Riigikogu groups make no secret of supporting NGOs, institutions and local governments with ties to members. The following covers but a few examples.
Former Keila Deputy Mayor Timo Suslov (Reform) will allocate €25,000 to the Keila city government for the construction of a regulation public beach, while Erkki Keldo (Reform) will give €30,000 to the Põltsamaa Municipality government for lighting and sound equipment for the Põltsamaa Music School.
The Hostre Village Society, run by Loit Kivistik (Reform), stands to receive €10,000 from Sulev Kannimäe (Reform). The Pöide Sports Association, in Saaremaa, run by Reform Party members Jüri Linde and Raili Nõgu, is to be paid €20,000 by Tiiu Aru (Reform).
Lauri Läänemets (SDE), who won the elections in Türi Municipality and formed the coalition there, will gift the municipality government €10,000 for new benches for the elderly.
Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Riina Sikkut will give €10,000 to fellow party members Pille Petersoo and Aivar Põlda who run the NGO Viimsi Mind Sports.
Center Party deputy whip Kersti Sarapuu has pledged €9,000 for party member Priit Seire’s Horse Farm Museum, while Centrist Maidu Aimse’s NGO Skamja stands to get €10,000 from Siret Kotka (Center) for development of civil society.
Opposition Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) MP Jaak Valge will allocate €12,000 to NGO Media Studies Center ran by EKRE member Aldo Maksimov. The money is meant for monitoring and analysis of media trends by the EKRE-affiliated NGO.