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The Minister of Culture Rein Lang replied to the interpellation concerning the future of Estonian literature (No 265), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Aadu Must, Enn Eesmaa, Ester Tuiksoo, Kadri Simson, Kalev Kallo, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Priit Toobal, Tarmo Tamm and Valeri Korb on 17 January. 

The interpellators referred to the interview with the Minister of Culture that had been published in newspaper “Postimees” on 9 January in which he had disclosed a plan to eliminate in the future the state support for literature for printing books. They also highlighted the emphasis that the state must discard the system of supporting libraries and point its attention to e-books. The interpellators expressed their concern about such plans and wished to hear the Minister’s position on the impact of these changes. 

According to Lang’s explanations, there is no separate direct support for literature for printing books, and no Estonian Government, including the current Government, has ever had an intention or any plan to implement such direct support for printing. The Minister noted that a reduced value added tax rate of 9% applies to books and this may be what the interpellators regard as the support for printing books. “The Ministry of Culture has made no proposal to increase or change this VAT rate, nor have I seen any official proposal to this effect by anyone else,” Lang confirmed. He added that the Cultural Endowment of Estonia also grants support for issuing books. The endowment for literature awarded by the latter has from time to time supported also the printing of books. “To my knowledge, the endowment for literature has not decided not to support the printing of a book in justified cases,” the Minister said. 

Lang referred to the question that had been asked and specified that if it had concerned the supporting of literature as a whole, mistaking it for only printing of books, then in fact the state has a plan to support the literary art as such much more intensely and effectively. “The volume of the literature programme of the Ministry of Culture is increasing year by year. In 2013, the support for the literature programme is larger than ever and it has doubled in comparison with 2012. It was scarce in 2012: 63 000 euro, and in 2013 the budget amounts to 120 000 euro. The budget of the endowment for literature of the Cultural Endowment has also increased, planned to amount to 1 350 841 euro this year, and this is also over 100 000 euro more as compared to the last year,” Lang pointed out the figures. 

The Cultural Endowment supports literature with creative grants, royalties, grants for issuing books, and financing of literary events. He added that the Cultural Endowment supports literature also through the Traducta grant programme which had been allocated 85 000 euro in 2012, and through the philosophy books series “Open Estonia Book”, the budget having amounted to 140 000 euro in 2012. 

During the open microphone, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Marika Tuus-Laul, Enn Eesmaa, Ester Tuiksoo, Lauri Laasi, Valeri Korb, Eldar Efendijev, Kadri Simson, Mailis Reps, Tarmo Tamm, Priit Toobal and Viktor Vassiljev took the floor.  

The Riigikogu Press Service