Bill seeking tougher party funding supervision stalls

Amendments to the Political Parties Act initiated during the previous government's time have, following a round of coordination, gotten stuck in the Ministry of Justice. Minister Lea Danilson-Järg described the bill to ramp up party funding supervision as a second-rate topic.

"The government today has agreed on a very ambitious plan that we are scrambling to execute. Efforts are concentrated on joint priorities. For example, how to help people cope with price hikes, ensure energy security, ramp up internal security and national defense," Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) said, explaining why she hasn't found the time to send the bill to the government.

"Every government sets its agenda based on its own plans, which is why earlier bills might be left aside. We have more urgent matters to attend to presently," Danilson-Järg added.

Her predecessor Maris Lauri (Reform Party), who sent the bill to amend the Political Parties Act and Credit Institutions Act to extend the powers of the Political Parties Funding Surveillance Committee (ERJK) out for coordination in May, was surprised the new heads of the ministry have deprioritized the bill.

"We knew the post-coordination period would fall to summertime and get dragged out. But I believe the bill will land on the government's agenda sooner rather than later. It includes important topics, like corruption, and it surprises me to hear that it is not sufficiently important for the new minister," Lauri added.

She described the topic as well-considered and said the bill could be passed into law before the year is out provided it reaches the Riigikogu. "It is a crucial bill," Lauri said.

The amendments would give the ERJK a legal basis to request documents, information and explanation from third persons and summon persons to its premises. The person would be given a sensible deadline in which to appear under pain of a financial penalty and compelled attendance upon failure to comply.

It would also alter the consequences of accepting illicit donations including an objective deadline (30 calendar days) in which the donation needs to be returned. After the deadline passes, the illicit donation would have to be transferred to the state budget.

Read the article at ERR.