January 30, 2008
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of four Bills:
The Rescue Service Bill (164 SE), initiated by the Government, which regulates the legal status of rescue service workers and the organisation of work in rescuing. Among other things, the Bill provides a definition of rescue service workers, dividing them into rescue service workers engaging in management and rescue service workers directly performing rescue work. The Bill grants the right to retire in expectation of old-age pension up to three years before attaining the pensionable age to rescue service workers. The Rescue Board will pay a benefit to rescue service workers during that period in the amount equal to the amount of their old-age pension. Rescue service workers with the length of service in rescue service of at least 15 years would be entitled to such benefit. Another significant amendment is the proposal to bring the working time of rescue service workers into compliance with the Working and Rest Time Act and, in consequence, to replace 24-hour shifts by 12-hour shifts. The initiator is of the opinion that working in 12-hour shifts is more effective from the standpoint of organisation of rescue service and permits better planning of working schedule by commando chiefs.
The Bill on Amendments to the Trading Act, the Register of Economic Activities Act and Associated Acts (150 SE), initiated by the Government, which specifies different regulations of trading activities. The Bill provides more specific regulation regarding undertakings engaging in trade and at local government level, specifying the scope of application of the Trading Act as well as the spheres of trading. Passing of the Bill would enhance the possibilities for protection of the economic interests of consumers, in that the mandatory requirements set for traders and the extent of the information provided to consumers at the place of sale are supplemented. The Register of Economic Activities Act is amended with the objective of reducing administrative load, with simplification of the registration procedure by granting the registrar the right to perform all acts relating to the register, using the advantages of electronic environment. Also, the range of persons who have the right to make register entries is extended. The purpose of amending the Tourist Act is to harmonise legal regulation of the sphere of tourism, by enabling consumers and undertakings, as well as persons exercising supervision, to obtain information concerning persons engaging in this field from the register of economic activities.
The Bill on Amendments to the Energy Efficiency of Equipment Act and the Building Act (167 SE), initiated by the Government, which proceeds from the need to harmonise Estonian legislation with the corresponding European Parliament and Council Directive on eco-design requirements for energy-using products. The objective of the Bill is to set eco-design requirements for energy-using products and to ensure free movement of such products within the internal market. The Bill is concerned with requirements to be fulfilled by equipment falling under the implementing measures, in order to be allowed into the market and utilisation.
The Bill on Amendments to the Courts Act (114 SE), initiated by the Government, which liquidates the Viru Circuit Court as of 1 October 2008. As a result, the Viru County Court is subordinated to the Tartu Circuit Court. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 36 votes in favour, 44 against.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills:
The Bill on Amendments to the Fishing Act (184 SE), initiated by the Government, which was initiated in view of the need to take additional measures for establishing supervision of ships engaging in illegal, unnotified or unregulated fishing operations, in pursuance of the requirement established by a Council Regulation. The Act is also amended with a view to allowing mobile payment certifying the fishing right upon hobby fishing, and specifying the procedures for application for and granting of fishing card upon hobby fishing. Also, the Fishing Act is harmonised with the amendments to the Permanently Populated Small Islands Act which were passed by the Riigikogu on 22 February 2007.
The Bill on Amendments to the Act on the Accession to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (176 SE), initiated by the Government, which specifies that Estonia is going to accede to the version of the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) which was amended in 1999. The amendments made in the Convention in 1999 had not entered into force by 2004, the time of initial ratification of the Convention by the Riigikogu. However, states can only accede a version of COTIF which is in force. The Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail is a uniform system of legal provisions concerning international carriage of passengers, luggage and goods by rail. The uniform rules of the Convention are applied in international rail transport, but also with regard to road and water transport which is related thereto. Parties to the COTIF constitute the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), with the headquarters in Berne. Estonia’s accession to the OTIF will be possible after the specified instrument of accession has been presented.
The Riigikogu rejected three Bills at the first reading:
The Bill on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (133 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, which had proposed gradual increase of the proportion of the taxable income of a resident natural person which is received by the local government of the taxpayer’s residence to 12.9 per cent instead of the current share of 11.9 per cent, was rejected on the motion of the Finance Committee (47 votes in favour, 38 against).
The Bill on Amendments to § 15 of the Value Added Tax Act (155 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, which had been intended by the initiator for reducing the value added tax rate for food products to 5 per cent instead of the current 18 per cent, was rejected on the motion of the Finance Committee (53 votes in favour, 30 against).
The Bill on Amendments to the Roads Act (158 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, with the objective of increasing the share of the funds proceeding from fuel excise duty and allocated for renovation of local roads from the 15 per cent in 2008 to 30 per cent in 2011, was rejected on the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee (46 votes in favour, 36 against).
At Question Time, the Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered questions about the new regulation of employment relationship, civil control of surveillance agencies, municipalisation of the land of the Foundation Narva Tööstusala and the Estonian-Afghanistan policy. The Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder answered questions about handling of animal waste and financing of joint activity organisations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet answered the question about recapturing of Petseri.
The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at: http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno
The Riigikogu Press Service
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