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The new Member of the Riigikogu Tiina Lokk-Tramberg took the oath of office before the Riigikogu.

The Riigikogu passed with 55 votes in favour the State Budget of 2013 Act (278 SE). The revenue of the state budget is 7 483 493 252 euro and the expenditure and investments amount to a total of 7 683 758 782 euro. On behalf of factions, comments were presented by Kaia Iva, Sven Mikser, Jaanus Tamkivi and Kadri Simson. 37 members of the Riigikogu voted against the budget.

The Act on Amendments to the Temporary Administration of Payment of Salaries related to Average Wages in Estonia Act, the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act and the Courts Act (279 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 68 votes in favour. The Act extends the validity of the Temporary Administration of Payment of Salaries related to Average Wages in Estonia Act which is currently in force and postpones the time of the entry into force of the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act. The salaries of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Auditor General, the Chancellor of Justice, judges of all instances, the State Secretary, ministers, the Commander of the Defence Forces, the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner, the Public Conciliator, the President of Eesti Pank and Members of the Supervisory Board of Eesti Pank, and indirectly also other offices which are related to the salary of a minister, are related to the average wages in Estonia at present. 3 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and one member of the Riigikogu abstained.

The Act on Amendments to the Courts Act (281 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 55 votes in favour. The amendments create the institution of the advocate-general which will help raise the qualification of the court officials assisting judges in the preparation of cases and thereby raise the quality of work of courts, and improve court procedures. The advocate-general is a court official with higher qualifications who participates in the preparation of cases for proceedings and, in the cases provided for in the Codes concerning procedures, may perform procedural acts independently or under the supervision of the judge supervising him or her. 18 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2013.

The Act on Amendments to the Financial Management of Local Government Act and the Local Government Organisation Act (311 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 46 votes in favour. With the Act, some new principles of financial management are provided, provisions which have proven unclear upon the implementation of the Act are corrected and the restriction on the increasing of the current net debt burden for 2012 is extended. The net debt burden rule is changed on the basis of the principles determined in “The Budget Strategy of the State for 2013‒2016”. The aim of the Act is to ensure the financial stability of local governments in the unstable economic environment and to avoid potential financial risks. 34 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. This Act enters into force on 1 January 2013.

The Act on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act (283 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 50 votes in favour. The amendments establish a single waterway due to replace the lighthouse dues and the navigation dues. Also, the current bases for the calculation of the dues are amended: according to the amendment, the waterway due is calculated on the basis of the gross tonnage (GT) of the ship whereby the gross tonnage of the ship is multiplied by the unit price. In addition, the maximum limits of waterway dues payable for a ship are established. Benefits will be granted to ships which enter a port several times during a calendar year. 32 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and one member of the Riigikogu abstained. This Act enters into force on 1 July 2013; clause 1 14) enters into force on 1 January 2014.

The Act on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act, the Social Welfare Act and the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (294 SE), initiated by the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Estonian Reform Party Faction, was, was passed with 51 votes in favour. The aim of this Act is to provide the payment of needs-based family benefits, that is, to take into account the principle of providing more support to those who actually need greater help and who have got more children. The needs-based family benefit is a family benefit which depends on the income of the family. The most significant are five amendments to the State Family Benefits Act and the Social Welfare Act: the benefits to families with children living below the relative poverty threshold will be raised in two stages, the child allowances for the third and subsequent child for all families with three or more children will be increased as of 2015, the childbirth allowance in the event of a multiple birth of triplets or more children will be increased as of 1 July 2013, family benefits will be paid to graduates of the basic school who are 16 years of age and older also in summer months, and a provision is added according to which cumulating allowances (the needs-based child allowance and the child allowance for the third and subsequent child) will not be included in the income upon determination of subsistence benefits.

The Act on Amendments to § 177 of the Employment Contracts Act (320 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, was passed with 48 votes in favour. The amendments reduce the minimum daily rate of the unemployment allowance from 50 per cent to 35 per cent of the minimum remuneration rate. The amendment is necessary for redistribution of the expenditure of the budget of the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs so as to cover the 3.5 million euro health care expenditure deficit which emerged from the agreement entered into for suspending the strike of doctors and health care professionals in October 2012. 23 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act.

On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Water Act and the Taxation Act (319 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The initiation of the Bill was necessitated by obligations assumed by Estonia under international maritime law agreements. The purpose of the Bill is primarily to establish the provisions necessary for the prevention of pollution caused by dumping at sea. Dumping means discharging substances or materials into the sea with the aim of disposing of them, and because of this aim, the substances and/or materials intended for dumping are considered as wastes in international law. In addition, the Bill specifies the provisions concerning the issue of the permit for the special use of water, the dredging of water bodies and the making of payments to international funds for compensation for pollution damage. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Food Act (322 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to bring the provisions concerning food additives and processing aids of the Food Act into conformity with European Union law. In order to avoid duplication of EU law, the provisions delegating authority to the Government of the Republic set out in the Act are repealed. In the opinion of the initiator, it will be easier for the food industry to comply with these requirements if the whole sector is regulated by EU Regulations. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Ratification of the Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (323 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. With the Bill, the amendments made to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at the Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda, in 2010 are ratified. The amendments concern the definition of weapons, the use of which is considered a war crime, and the extending of the jurisdiction of the Court regarding crimes of aggression. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (729 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 50 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion to reject and 28 members voted against. Thus, this Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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