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The Act on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Fiscal Marking of Liquid Fuel Act (682 SE), initiated by the Government, was approved with 56 votes in favour (33 votes against). The Act will raise excise duty rates of alcohol, tobacco products and natural gas, and establish an excise duty exemption on biogas. 

Pursuant to the Act, the excise duty rate on alcohol will increase by 15 percent in 2015, and by 10 percent in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The excise duty rate of cigarettes and smoking tobacco will be increased by 5 % per year from 2016 to 2018. According to the proposal of the Finance Committee, the price-based component of excise in the structure of cigarette excise was lowered, and the item-based component was correspondingly increased, as the result of which cheaper cigarettes will become relatively more expensive and thus less affordable. The excise duty rate for natural gas will be increased by 20% in 2015, 2016 and 2017. 

Besides that, in the future there will be no tax liability for electricity producers with a capacity below 100 kW who are connected to the system (residential customers and apartment associations), instead of that, tax liability on surplus of electric energy transmitted to the network will arise for the network operator. The Act also allows to use fuel under certain conditions as heating fuel in the fuel production process without paying excise duty. The major amendments to the Fiscal Marking of Liquid Fuel Act are the following: the right to use the liquid fuel marked with a fiscal marker in carriage by rail and for the production of heat and electric power is repealed. According to the Act, light heating oil will no longer be subject to fiscal marking and this means that, when the Act enters into force, only one fuel will be marked with a fiscal marking – diesel fuel for specific purposes As light heating oil will no longer be subject to fiscal marking, the excise duty rate for light heating oil will be raised to the same level as the excise duty rate for diesel fuel. Persons who will lose the right to use the fuel marked with a fiscal marker have to use up the old fuel marked with a fiscal marker by the end of this year, and it will be forbidden to use it in the new year. The only exception is for fuel used for heating: in such cases the liquid fuel marked with a fiscal marker can be used until the end of the heating period, i.e. until the end of April 2015. 

The representatives of factions Aivar Riisalu and Helir-Valdor Seeder, who who took the floor during the debate, gave their reasons for opposing the passage of the Act, and announced that the Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction do not support it. 

The Value Added Tax Act Amendment Act (644 SE), initiated by the Government, was approved with 56 votes in favour (32 votes against, 1 abstention). Instead of the taxation of use of automobiles for own consumption, the Act restricts the deductibility of the VAT paid upon purchase of automobiles and use of automobiles under contract for use (including upon rental and lease), and upon purchasing goods and services related to them (motor fuel, repair, maintenance, etc.). The purpose of the Act is the fairer taxation of the use of automobiles, which will at the same time increase state budget revenues. 

The representatives of factions Aivar Riisalu and Tõnis Palts, who who took the floor during the debate, presented their objections, and announced that the members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction do not support the passage of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Taxation Act and the Value Added Tax Act (680 SE), initiated by the Government, was approved with 57 votes in favour (31 votes against). The Act reduces the administrative burden of the Tax and Customs Board, and the financial risk of the state relating to the verification of claims for refund. In the Taxation Act, the initial deadline for the verification of claims for refund is extended from 30 calendar days to 60 calendar days. A possible longer period for verification will apply to all claims for refund, including the refunding of overpaid amounts of value added tax. The maximum period for the verification of the claims for refund of overpaid VAT amounts will be shortened so that the total length of the period (120 calendar days in total together with the initial deadline) will remain the same. The bases for the risk analysis of the Tax and Customs Board upon the verification of claims for refund were not be changed. After the implementation of the amendments, a tax authority will continue the practice of fulfilling 95% of claims for refund of overpaid VAT amounts within up to four working days. If a claim for refund is fulfilled within 60 calendar days, interest will not be calculated for the benefit of the taxable person. According to the Act, the Tax and Customs Board will publish on its website the amounts of state taxes, funded pension contributions and unemployment insurance premiums paid by taxable persons (except natural persons), and separately also the amount of taxes on labour force. The Act provides that, in general, the tax auditor need not prepare an audit report if no facts altering the tax liability are discovered as a result of the tax audit. A tax authority will prepare an audit report at the request of a taxable person. According to the Act, no interest will be calculated on tax arrears relating to the estate from the date of the opening of a succession. The calculation of interest is terminated on the day of the death of the bequeather. 

Aivar Riisalu, who who took the floor during the debate, presented the objections of the Estonian Centre Party Faction to the passage of the Act. 

The Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act, the Social Tax Act and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act (683 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 57 votes in favour (16 votes against). The Act specifies the principles and procedure for drawing up the list of non-profit associations, foundations and religious associations benefiting from income tax incentives. It also resolves some issues and problems that have arisen in the implementation of the Income Tax Act. Certain amendments are necessary in connection with new formats of tax return that are planned to be established as of 2015. The Act increases the rate of basic exemption, defines the concept of grant, and specifies when, to whom and in which amount a grant may be awarded. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act is also amended with a view to ensuring that grants awarded by the Cultural Endowment are exempt from income tax. In addition, the Bill provides for the power of the supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment to approve the bases for the payment of the awards and grants awarded by the Cultural Endowment. 

The representatives of factions Aivar Sõerd, Aivar Riisalu, Siim Valmar Kiisler and Rannar Vassiljev, who took the floor during the debate, analysed the circumstances connected with the impact of the Act. The Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction supported the passing of the Act. The Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction were of negative opinion. 

The Electricity Market Act Amendment Act (687 SE), initiated by the Economic Affairs Committee, was passed with 65 votes in favour. The Act clarifies the financing of the digital data exchange platform and the database of certificates of origin for electricity, to be implemented in the electricity market. Through the data exchange platform, data exchange will take place in the electricity market, allowing for the changing of an open supplier, forwarding of metering data, and fulfilment of the obligations imposed on market participants by law, and ensuring the rights granted to them. The guarantee of origin of electricity and the database for the administration of the guarantees were established with the transposition of the Renewable Energy Directive. It established the obligation of transmission system operators to issue a guarantee of origin for electricity produced from renewable energy sources. In order to join the trading system which allows for international transactions, the requirements for the acts performed with the guarantees of origin were specified in the Electricity Market Act. The amendments regarding the guarantees of origin will also enable transmission system operators to join the international trading system. 

The Roads Act Amendment Act (681 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 57 votes in favour (27 votes against). Pursuant to the Act, the financing of road management will be separated from the proceeds from fuel excise duty. The wording concerning the distribution of the funds for road management is also clarified. This enables more flexible and purposeful planning of the state budget. The volume of the financing of road management is determined in the state budget strategy, and the amounts allocated are fixed in the state budget every year. 

The representatives of factions Tarmo Tamm and Aivar Kokk, who who took the floor during the debate, gave their reasons for opposing the Act, and announced that the Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction do not support the passing of the Act. 

Resolution of the Riigikogu “Removal of Members and Appointment of New Members of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Development Fund” (695 OE), submitted by the Economic Affairs Committee, was passed with 55 votes in favour (9 votes against). It provides for the appointment of Valdo Randpere instead of Kaja Kallas and Indrek Saar instead of Reet Roos as a members of the Supervisory Board. 

The Riigikogu did not support (8 for, 58 against) the proposal No. 28 from the Chancellor of Justice to bring subsections 116 (1)–116 (6) of the Medicinal Products Act into conformity with the Constitution

By way of constitutional review, the Chancellor of Justice analysed the temporary restrictions on the establishment of general and branch pharmacies provided in the Medicinal Products Act. “The restrictions on issue and amendment of the activity licence of general pharmacy established in the Medicinal Products Act violate the freedom of enterprise provided in the Constitution in conjunction with the general fundamental right to equality provided in the Constitution,” said Indrek Teder. The Chancellor of Justice made a proposal to the Riigikogu to bring the relevant provisions of the Medicinal Products Act into conformity with the Constitution. 

Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Rait Maruste gave an overview of the discussion in the Committee. As the result of the discussion, it was found that the Social Affairs Committee had already started to prepare an amendment to the Act that would solve the problems connected with the establishment of pharmacies. “The Constitutional Committee did not support the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice,” said Maruste. 

The Chairperson of the Social Affairs Committee Heljo Pikhof also gave an overview of the discussion that had taken place in the Committee with the participation of the Chancellor of Justice. The Committee decided not to support the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice on changing the temporary restriction. Pikhof once again explained the need for establishing temporary restrictions. She informed the Riigikogu that a detailed analysis for securing pharmacy services in rural areas had been ordered. “The analysis should be ready in September, and then a relevant Bill for solving the emerged problems will be initiated,” explained Pikhof. 

Siim Valmar Kiisler and Viktor Vassiljev took the floor during the debate. 

At the beginning of the sitting, the member of the Riigikogu Siret Kotka took the oath of Office. 

The sitting began at 12 p.m. and ended at 1.55 p.m. 

Photos of taking the oath: http://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/2014/Riigikogu/01072014/

The Riigikogu Press Service 

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