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The Riigikogu passed (53 votes in favour, 1 abstention) the Act on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (506 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, which provides that, at state and municipal schools, instruction may also be provided on the basis of the curriculum prepared by and pursuant to the rules of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). A school which has received the IBO recognition for implementation of the curriculum may provide instruction on the basis of the IBO curriculum. This is an education policy decision which enables the students who, because of their parents’ position, move from one state to another to graduate from a general education school according to the IBO curriculum.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of three Bills
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to Acts relating to the Second Supplementary Budget of the Year 2009 Act (511 SE), initiated by the Government, is to increase the revenue and to reduce the expenditure of the state budget. For that purpose, the excise duty rate of cigarettes will be increased by 5 per cent and, the excise duty rate of different motor fuels, by 10 per cent. At the same time, value added tax will be increased to 20 per cent instead of 18 per cent. Environmental charges will also be increased. The procedure for payment and the rates of sickness benefits and the rate of care benefit will be amended. According to the Bill, study loans will no longer be compensated for in the future. The compensation relating to the study loan will be available for those who will have submitted an application as at 1 July 2009. The Social Democratic Party Faction and the Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 42 votes in favour, 55 against. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Temporary Administration of Payment of Salaries related to Average Wages in Estonia Act (522 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, will reduce the salaries of the high state officials whose salary is related to average wages by 8 per cent. The extended list includes all high officials whose salary is related to average wages, starting from the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and Associated Acts (518 SE), initiated by the Government, is to ensure sustainability of the unemployment insurance fund. The amendments in the benefits schemes will reduce the burden on the assets of the unemployment insurance fund. The Bill amends the regulation of unemployment insurance which is due to enter into force on 1 July 2009. The Bill postpones payment of the unemployment insurance benefit to people who cease employment on own initiative or by agreement of the parties until 2013. In comparison to the provisions of the Act which has been passed, the unemployment insurance benefit will be reduced to 50 per cent instead of the current 70 per cent in the first hundred days and to 40 per cent instead of the current 50 per cent starting from the 101st day until the 360th day. The regulation concerning night work is also specified. According to the Bill, it will be possible to establish specifications in the restrictions of night work only with the agreement of the employee or by a collective agreement. The Bill postpones compensation for the child care leave on the basis of the minimum remuneration rate and compensation for the leave for fathers on the basis of the average remuneration from the state budget funds until 1 January 2013. The Social Democratic Party Faction and the Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 41 votes in favour, 50 against. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
At Question Time, the Minister of Regional Affairs Siim Valmar Kiisler answered the question about unemployment in different regions, submitted by Inara Luigas, the question about the subsistence capacity of local governments, submitted by Mai Treial, and the question about administrative reform, submitted by Kalev Kotkas. The Minister of Justice Rein Lang answered the question about amendments to the Penal Code relating to domestic violence, submitted by Evelyn Sepp.
 
The sitting ended at 10.43 p.m.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
 
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