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Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation (No. 221) concerning the transition to Euro, submitted on 22 March by Members of the Riigikogu Henn Pärn, Tiit Niilo, Aivar Õun, Indrek Raudne, Andres Jalak and Ants Pauls.

Prime Minister explained that the Government based its assessment on the probability of meeting the inflation criterion on the economic prognoses of the Eesti Pank and the Ministry of Finance. Mr. Ansip stressed that we can meet the Maastricht inflation criterion only through a conservative budget policy and single steps in taxation policy. “Estonia can influence the short-term inflation only through taxation policy, changing the rates of indirect taxes. The Government has decided, in the interests of stability of the economic policy, not to play with tariff rates and temporarily not to reduce indirect taxes,” Prime Minister said. But it is still possible to postpone the planned increases in excises, in order to avoid supplementary increase in prices in the situation where the inflation in Estonia already exceeds the reference value of the price stability criterion, Mr. Ansip explained. The Government continues its conservative budget policy and keeps the budget of the governmental sector at least balanced, but in surplus whenever possible. By the end of 2005 the surplus of the Estonian governmental sector formed EEK 2.63 billion or 1.6 percent of the GDP. In the assessment of the IMF, Estonia’s economic policy has followed the right course and postponing the term of transition to Euro is regrettable, but inevitable. In their opinion Estonia’s economic and financial system is ready for the accession into the Eurozone. “The Government has constantly assured the Estonian entrepreneurs as well as international financial markets that Estonia wishes to accede to Euro at the earliest opportunity,” Prime Minister stressed. The Cabinet set the goal to accede into the Euro zone on 1 January 2008 and assigned the relevant expert committee the task to prepare a new version of the plan on the adoption of Euro by 1 June, proceeding from the changed goal, Mr. Ansip marked.

Prime Minister replied to three more interpellations. They were the following: The interpellation (no. 217) concerning the reports of OÜ Fiksor Holding, submitted on 16 March by Member of the Riigikogu Indrek Raudne; the interpellation (No. 224) concerning the activities of the coal terminal Coal Terminal Operator AS in the Port of Muuga, submitted on 3 April by Members of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel, Peeter Tulviste, Trivimi Velliste, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Mart Nutt and Mart Laar, and the interpellation (No. 225) concerning the termination of the activities of Pärnu Single Infantry Battalion, submitted on 10 April by Member of the Riigikogu Trivimi Velliste.

Minister of Internal Affairs Kalle Laanet replied to the interpellation (No. 219) concerning the weapons in civil use, submitted on 20 March by Members of the Riigikogu Mark Soosaar, Peeter Kreitzberg and Sven Mikser, and to the interpellation (No. 223) concerning the improvement of research standards, submitted on 22 March by Members of the Riigikogu Trivimi Velliste, Ken-Marti Vaher, Urmo Kööbi, Avo Üprus, Olari Taal, Mihhail Lotman, Peeter Tulviste, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Indrek Raudne and Andres Herkel.

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