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Prime Minister Andrus Ansip made a political statement before the Riigikogu in connection with the submission of the coming year’s state budget Bill. The Prime Minister said that the expenditure level of the 2010 budget which has been named “the budget of overcoming the crisis” is comparable to this year’s expenditure which amounts to 89.6 billion kroons. The revenue of the state budget amounts to 84 billion kroons. Ansip explained that Estonia can fulfil all criteria for the transition to the euro and adopt the euro in January 2011. In order to ensure long-term competitiveness of the Estonian economy, the Government will increase the expenditure on education, and investments in research and development activities will grow in 2010. The Prime Minister said that the state had increased the volume of investments by 14 per cent in the 2010 budget in order to stimulate economy. In Ansip’s words, the Government will not reduce pensions. Nor will the Government change the parental benefits system. The Prime Minister noted: “I believe that the Government submitted “the budget of overcoming the crisis” to the Riigikogu. I hope that the Riigikogu will conduct the proceedings of the budget in good cooperation, in a statesman-like and constructive manner. If we make the right decisions, we will be able to come out of this crisis faster and stronger than the others. The conservative budget policy has created good preconditions for that.”
 
Kadri Simson, Eiki Nestor, Tarmo Mänd and Marek Strandberg took the floor during the debate.
 
The Riigikogu passed two Acts:
 
The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act, the Public Service Act and the State Public Servants Official Titles and Salary Scale Act (483 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides that the sphere of public service development falls within the area of government of the Ministry of Finance and the respective functions of the State Chancellery will be transferred to the Ministry of Finance, was passed with 60 votes in favour. The Act is motivated by the new Public Service Bill and prepares its implementation.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and to Other Acts, related to Merger of the Health Care Board, the Health Protection Inspectorate and the Chemicals Notification Centre into the Health Board (536 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides reorganisation of the institutions within the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs, was passed with 85 votes in favour. The abovementioned institutions will be merged and the Health Board will be established.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Other Acts (466 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill provides transposing of the directive on shareholders’ rights into Estonian law which facilitates the use of voting rights by shareholders. If the Act is passed, then the Estonian public limited companies and private limited companies will be able to provide, if they so wish, their shareholders and partners an opportunity to vote by electronic means at general meetings and meetings of shareholders if this is safe and allows identification of persons.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of five Bills:
 
The State Export Guarantees Bill (565 SE), initiated by the Government, specifies the definition of export guarantee which is currently in force and defines the mechanism for implementation of state liability.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the State Assets Act and the Nature Conservation Act (568 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the legal provisions concerning the right of pre-emption which is created upon transfer of state assets pursuant to the State Assets Act and makes the right of entitled persons to purchase state assets on advantageous conditions dependent on their active participation in the auction organised for the transfer.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (550 SE), initiated by the Government, eliminates the exemption from income tax on study loan interests and trade union membership fees. The Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 33 votes in favour, 48 against.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Accounting Act and Associated Acts (517 SE), initiated by the Government, specifies the regulation of the submission of the annual reports of companies, non-profit associations and foundations to the registration departments of the county courts and provides the basis for establishing a taxonomy of the annual report.
 
The Mediation Bill (487 SE), initiated by the Government, discusses an alternative manner of settlement of disputes on a voluntary basis, besides judicial proceedings, in Estonia.
 
The Riigikogu did not pass a vote of no confidence in the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Foreign Affairs
 
Today, the Riigikogu deliberated the motions to express no confidence in the Minister of Justice Rein Lang and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet. The motion to express no confidence in the Minister of Justice Rein Lang, submitted by the Social Democratic Party Faction, had been signed by 40 Members of the Riigikogu. The motion to express no confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet, submitted by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, had been signed by 34 Members of the Riigikogu. The support of 51 Members of the Riigikogu is necessary for expression of no confidence. The vote of no confidence in the Minister of Justice Rein Lang: 34 votes in favour, 4 abstentions. The vote of no confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet: 35 votes in favour, 4 abstentions. Thus, the Riigikogu did not support the expressions of no confidence in the Ministers.
 
At Question Time, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered the question about the labour market, submitted by Kadri Simson, and the question about sale of state assets, submitted by Karel Rüütli. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet answered the question about foreign policy, submitted by Eiki Nestor. The Minister of Regional Affairs Siim Valmar Kiisler answered the question about reorganisation of rural municipalities, submitted by Toomas Varek.
The sitting ended at 6.12 p.m.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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