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On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Pre-school Child Care Institutions Act (2 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure covering of catering cost in an amount of 1.5 euro for children of 5‒7 years of age who are acquiring pre-school education at pre-school child care institutions. According to the explanation of the initiator, the parent covers the catering cost of his or her child at a child care institution but the increased unemployment and complicated economic situation in recent years have forced parents to take their children away from child care institutions. In the opinion of the initiators of the Bill, it is important to ensure the covering of catering cost of children in their two pre-school years so that their preparation for school would not suffer due to lack of economic opportunities of their parents. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the State Liability Bill (7 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to integrate the regulation of the compensation for damage caused by the state to a person by unjust deprivation of liberty which so far was regulated by a separate Act with the State Liability Act and to eliminate the deficiencies which have become apparent in the implementation practice. As the initiator stated, the merging of the Acts gave rise to so numerous amendments that it was necessary to submit a new consolidated text of the State Liability Act. Upon the entry into force of the Act, the legal protection system will become more efficient and it will allow persons to apply for elimination of unlawful acts of public authority, and restoration of as well as compensation for violated rights. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the Bill on Amendments to § 48 of the Income Tax Act (4 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 40 members voted against, one member abstained. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
The Resolution on granting of a state guarantee for the loan between the European Investment Bank and the Foundation North-Estonia Regional Hospital (49 OE), submitted by the Government, was passed with 77 votes in favour. According to the Resolution, the state will grant a guarantee to the loan in the amount of 43 500 000 euro taken by the North-Estonia Regional Hospital from the European Investment Bank. The loan is intended for construction of the X-section and reconstruction and extension of the C- and pathology section and financing of a medical equipment purchase project of the North-Estonia Regional Hospital. According to the Draft Resolution, the amount of the state guarantee is 52 200 000 euro and the premium for it is 0.16% on the average loan balance per year for every calendar year of the period of validity of the state guarantee. The guarantee agreement will be in force as of entry into the agreement until the end of 2035. Nobody voted against the Resolution, 2 members of the Riigikogu abstained.
 
The Act on Ratification of the 2006 International Tropical Timber Agreement (26 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 74 votes in favour. Upon ratification of the Agreement, Estonia becomes a member of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). As no tropical timber grows in Estonia, Estonia becomes a consumer member. ITTO was established by the Tropical Timber Agreement of 1983 (Article 3(1)) and continues in being for the purposes of administering the provisions and supervising the operation of this Agreement. Ratification of the Agreement grants to Estonia full powers to participate and vote at the meetings of the ITTO Council and a good opportunity to engage in close cooperation on an equal basis within the framework of other Rio de Janeiro conventions (the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change) which aim at a further strengthening of environmental protection and sustainable development. Nobody voted against the ratification of the Agreement, one member of the Riigikogu abstained.
 
The Act on Ratification of the Agreement on the Second Amendment of the Cotonou Agreement (12 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 72 votes in favour. The purpose of the amendments to the Agreement is to make specifications in the Cotonou Agreement which cover the obligations assumed by the EU in recent years (including the obligations emanating from the UN Millennium Development Goals, ensuring of peace and security, climate change) and simplify implementation of the Cotonou Agreement, creating the basis for emergence of a more systematic and formal political, economic and social dialogue. In particular, the regulation concerning economic cooperation, humanitarian, emergency and post-emergency assistance, procurements and regional integration is amended.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Other Associated Acts (9 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring Estonian Acts into conformity with EU directives. The purpose of the latter is to help enhance the competitiveness of the EU by reducing the administrative burden arising from the European company law directives. Amendments to the mergers and divisions directive involve reduction of reporting requirements for companies, including also in the case of a merger between a parent company and its subsidiary, and updating of information requirements. In addition, similar amendments have also been partially made to the Cross-Border Mergers Directive. Amendments to the Capital Requirements Directive enable Member States to reduce reporting requirements upon the formation of a public limited liability company and an increase in subscribed capital if these occur in the context of the merger or the division. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Fiscal Marking of Liquid Fuel Act (39 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, the use of the liquid fuel marked with a fiscal marker will be terminated in stationary motors and extraction, forestry and construction works. This will be the first stage in reforming the system of tax differentiation of the liquid fuel marked with a fiscal marker. The second stage will see implementation of payment schemes or direct payments also to the remaining beneficiary fields: carriage of passengers and goods by rail, shipping traffic, heat and energy production and agriculture. The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill; 44 members of the Riigikogu voted against and 36 voted in favour. Thus, the Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (42 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill was prepared with the aim of increasing state budget revenues as of 2013 by raising excise duty rates on tobacco products by 10%. The excise duty rate on cigarettes consists of a fixed rate and a proportional rate. The fixed rate will rise from 42.18 euro (the rate of 2012) to 47.63 euro. The proportional rate is 33 % of their maximum retail price. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Peace-Time National Defence Act and Other Acts in connection with Amendment of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (28 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring Acts into conformity with the changes made in the organisation of national defence with the Act on amendments to the Constitution. The greatest amendment as compared to the current regulation is changing of the national defence competence of the President of the Republic and elimination of the concept of the institution of “the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces” in Acts concerning national defence. The Bill also specifies the appointing to office and release from office of the Commander of the Defence Forces, the Commander of the General Staff of the Defence Forces, the Commander of the National Defence League and chiefs of services. According to the Bill, the Government of the Republic will appoint the Commander of the Defence Forces to office for one term of five years on the proposal of the Minister of Defence, taking account of the position of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu. The Commander of the General Staff of the Defence Forces will be appointed to office and released from office by the Government of the Republic on the proposal of the Minister of Defence, taking account of the position of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu. The Commander of the National Defence League will be appointed to office and released from office on the joint proposal of the Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces. A chief of service will be appointed to office and released from office by the Minister of Defence on the proposal of the Commander of the Defence Forces. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Securities Market Act and Other Associated Acts (8 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to transpose into Estonian law the European Union directive concerning financial collaterals and securities settlement. In addition, it specifies the register acts related to the securities accounts in the Estonian Central Register of Securities, in particular those concerning pledging of securities, and creates an opportunity for persons to open a securities account directly in the Estonian Central Register of Securities without the intermediation of a bank or another account administrator. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Restrictions on Acquisitions of Immovables Bill (54 SE, initiated by the Government, was concluded. Arising from public interest, the Bill changes the conditions of the acquisition of profit yielding land and immovables located in the area related to national security considerations. Under the regulation which was in force before, the authorisation system covered all citizens of Contracting States who wished to acquire an immovable the land use type categories of which include 10 ha or more of agricultural or forest land and who had not resided in Estonia for at least the last three years and had not engaged in the production of agricultural products or forest management as a sole proprietor in Estonia during at least the last three financial years. However, under the regulation which entered into force as of 1 May 2011, citizens of Contracting States can purchase land freely. Third-county nationals and legal persons will continue to have to apply for the authorisation of the county governor. Under the Bill, the range of legal persons of Contracting States who will be allowed to acquire agricultural or forest land only with the authorisation of the county governor will decrease significantly: only a legal person of a Contracting State who has not engaged in the production of agricultural products or forest management during the three years immediately preceding the year when the transaction is concluded will have to apply for the authorisation of the county governor for the acquisition of an immovable the land use type categories of which include 10 ha or more of agricultural or forest land. The Bill was sent to the second reading.)
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
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