Estonia: Parliament select committee discusses presidential funding scandal

The state budget control select committee of Estonia’s parliament, the Riigikogu, held an extraordinary session on 8 August 2023 to discuss a controversy over alleged “horse trading” by the Office of the President, ERR reports. Earlier, presidential adviser Toomas Sildam had an informal discussion with Merike Saks, secretary general of the Ministry of Finance, in which Sildam appeared to link the president’s approval of pending legislation to a request for additional funding for the Office of the President. Sildam later denied any quid pro quo, as did Peep Jahilo, director of the Office of the President. However, Saks said that she found the incident serious enough to inform Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev of the conversation. Võrklaev said that he rejected the presidential request for additional funding so as to avoid the appearance of a deal. Auditor General Janar Holm argued that constitutional institutions should not depend on the executive branch for funding, suggesting that the parliament’s finance committee instead of the government decide on the allocation of funds for constitutional institutions, including the Office of the President.

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