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Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Eesti Pank Mart Sõrg replied to the interpellation (No. 199) concerning the problems arising from the release for circulation of defective banknotes, submitted on 13 February by Member of the Riigikogu Marko Pomerants.

Mr. Sõrg announced that the Supervisory Board of Eesti Pank had discussed the case concerning the defective hundred–kroon notes on 21 February, and that a consequent decision had been made to enhance sample checking of new banknotes prior to releasing them into circulation. Likewise it had been decided that it was necessary to modernise risk assessment procedures in the risk management system of the bank, and the internal control systems would be supplemented on this basis.

According to Mr. Sõrg, the Supervisory Board assumed a position that Eesti Pank would have to be prepared for communicating with the public in similar extreme situations. The existing communication strategy was amended. The conclusion was drawn that the Supervisory Board should have been informed of the situation earlier. The Supervisory Board considers it very important to continue close cooperation with the Police in order to avoid inconveniences to the people, in connection with defective banknotes still in circulation.

Speaking of responsibility in connection with releasing money into circulation, Mr. Sõrg said that pursuant to the Act, Eesti Pank is the organisation responsible for currency circulation in Estonia and has the sole right to issue currency. Eesti Pank is thus responsible for releasing hundred-kroon banknotes of the 1999 issue with one missing security feature into circulation. Mr. Sõrg expressed his regret that the people had had to suffer inconveniences due to defective banknotes. In his words, Eesti Pank has no information that anyone has suffered any loss of property. “As to other than proprietary damage suffered by the people, Eesti Pank has had meetings with them and has forwarded them the bank’s excuses,” Mr. Sõrg affirmed.

Mr. Sõrg explained the reasons for informing the public so long after the fact. Communication in the matters of currency circulation depends on circumstances related to each concrete case, in order to guarantee the circulation of the Estonia kroons without failure and to ensure the reliability of cash in the eyes of users. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board stressed that in this case Eesti Pank has replied to all the media inquiries. “”No official of Estonia, no official or body of Eesti Pank has decided to classify the case. Eesti Pank has introduced all the measures in order to limit the spread of defective hundred-kroon banknotes of 1999 and to solve the problem,” Mr. Sõrg affirmed. In the words of Mr. Sõrg, as concerns cash, the main basis for keeping a so-called low-profile is a special need to ensure the safety of data concerning the qualities of cash, its manufacturing, handling and circulation. The common understanding of central banks proceeds from the principles that communication in the matters of currency circulation depends on the circumstances related to each concrete case. This principle is effective also in many other issues concerning public interest, for example in solving financial and bank crises, Mr. Sõrg explained.

Answering to the question about determining the guilty parties, Mr. Sõrg said. The meeting of the Supervisory Board on 21 February decided that there are no guilty parties, because the Acts and internal rules of procedure have been observed, and these provide for sample checking of banknotes coming from printing works, not hundred-percent double-checking.” Mr. Sõrg stressed once more that the relevant checking procedures had already been clarified.

Minister of Justice Rein Lang replied to the interpellation (No. 200) concerning the tasks of the Ministry of Justice, submitted on 14 February by Members of the Riigikogu Ken-Marti Vaher, Avo Üprus and Reet Roos.

Minister of Agriculture Ester Tuiksoo replied to the interpellation (No. 202) concerning the privatisation of the national holding of AS Werol Tehased, submitted on 16 February by Members of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel, Tõnis Lukas, Peeter Tulviste, Mart Nutt and Trivimi Velliste.

Minister of Finance Aivar Sõerd replied to the interpellation (No. 205) concerning the compensation for the increase in the price of district heating, submitted on 21 February by Member of the Riigikogu Sven Sester.

The verbatim record of the Riigikogu sitting (in Estonian) can be found at: http://web.riigikogu.ee/ems/plsql/stenograms.form

The Riigikogu Press Service