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The Act on Amendments to § 8 of the International Military Cooperation Act (141 SE), initiated by the National Defence Committee, was passed with 82 votes in favour. The amendments to the Act are due to the need to ensure the participation of staff officers and, as necessary, also staff non-commissioned officers of the Estonian Defence Forces in an international military operation launched by NATO or the European Union immediately when a decision to that effect is made. A provision was added to the Act according to which the Riigikogu determines by a Resolution the quota of the members of the Defence Forces for every year who can participate in the work of the international military headquarters located in the operation area upon launching of a new operation led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union.

The Act on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Alcohol Act (150 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 61 votes in favour. The amendments concern the implementation of the third stage of the development of the electronic system of delivery note (eSL) as of 2012. As a result of the improvement of the eSL system, the obligation of the undertaking to notify the tax authority through the eSL system of refusal to receive excise goods, and incidents with excise goods in intra-Community transport thereof is provided in the excise duty Act. Also, the excise duty rate of the aviation spirit used for non-commercial purposes is raised to the same level with the excise duty rate of leaded petrol as of 1 July 2012, and the excise duty exemption of shale-derived fuel oil used as domestic heating fuel is eliminated. It is possible to sell cigarettes with revenue stamps affixed to a block in the customs control zones of airports in the same way as it is allowed on board a boat or aircraft making sea-crossings or flights between two Member States. As a general rule, the revenue stamp has to be affixed to the sales packaging of cigarettes (20 items per pack). 18 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. The Act enters into force on 1 April 2012.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act and the Liquid Fuel Act (146 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, in order to avoid tax evasions related to the turnover of gold, the amendments establish a special reverse charge arrangement as is the case with the turnover of metal waste and immovables; the regulation to that effect entered into force in 2011. The amount of value added tax refunds relating to transactions with gold has soared dramatically as of the second half of 2010. The growth of fraud has been caused by the application of the reverse charge regulation for metal waste and the establishing of additional requirements for fuel handlers which has made swindlers to move over to the gold market. Application of reverse value added tax will eliminate the opportunity to deduct, that is, to reclaim from the state, value added tax in case of transactions between persons liable to value added tax. The obligation to pay value added tax will only arise in the “last link” of the supply chain, upon sale to the final consumer. In the opinion of the Ministry of Finance, upon application of reverse charge mechanism, the volume of gold fraud will decrease by approximately 6.8 euro per year. As the number of tax evasions has increased also in the field of fuel, the Value Added Tax Act is amended also in regard to taking fuel out of the excise warehouse, and relevant amendments are introduced into the Liquid Fuel Act. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Investment Funds Act and Other Associated Acts (152 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments would enable also employers to establish their own pension funds. The employer’s pension fund is a voluntary pension fund to which only the employer specified in the rules of this pension fund can make contributions for its employees, public servants and members of the management or controlling body. In addition, the Bill enables to manage investment funds complying with uniform standards (UCITS) on a cross-border basis in the European Union (i.e. in a situation where the management company is located in one Member State and the investment fund in another); establishes the legal basis for merging a UCITS with the UCITS of another management company, and for cross-border mergers of UCITS, and the conditions for creating new fund structures, that is, “master-feeder structures” according to which the assets of one UCITS (the feeder-fund) can be invested in another UCITS (master-find) as a whole or in a large part. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Collective Agreements Act (153 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to bring the regulation of the Collective Agreements Act into conformity with the Constitution and to provide the rules of procedure under which parties to a collective agreement which has become invalid due to expiry of the term have the possibility to cancel the collective agreement and to terminate it. The Collective Agreements Act which is currently in force is based on the principle that a collective agreement is entered into for a fixed term but, upon expiry of the term, the parties are required to continue to comply with the expired collective agreement. The obligation to continue to comply with the expired collective agreement continues until a new collective agreement is entered into. The initiator finds that, in case of failure to enter into a new agreement, such a solution means that the old agreement continues to be in force forever, and that such a situation is in conflict with the Constitution. The Social Democratic Party Faction and the Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of this Bill. 47 members of the Riigikogu voted against the motion and 38 members voted in favour. Thus, the motion was not supported and the Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Accounting Act and the Commercial Code (147 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to define the use of taxonomy and taxonomy forms for accounting entities that until now has been regulated with an implementing provision, and to simplify the formal requirements for annual report for accounting entities pursuing profit. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and Other Associated Acts (139 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The primary purpose of the amendments is to harmonise the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity, and some parts of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. At the same time, the market participants are informed of the full opening of electricity market in 2013. Among other things, specifications are made that have proved necessary in connection with the partial opening of electricity market and the increase of the number of market participants trading on free market. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Act on the Accession to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (160 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill is intended to guarantee application of Appendixes E, F and G to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail upon international carriage by rail. Appendix E provides the general procedure for the conclusion of contracts relating to the use of the railway infrastructure for international carriage by rail on the basis of the Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Passengers by Rail. Appendix F concerns the validation of technical standards on which the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) and the European Union agreed that the standards would be established on the basis of the technical regulations prepared and used in the European Union. Appendix G concerns the preparation of technical rules on the admission to circulation, in regard to which the OTIF also recommends to use the existing requirements as the basis, i.e. the technical rules already in use in the European Union. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Ratification of Statute of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) (163 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to ratify the Statute of the Agency which Estonia signed on 11 June 2009. The Statute of IRENA entered into force and the organisation was deemed to be officially established on 8 July 2010, one month after the submitting of the 25th instrument of ratification. The aim of the Agency is to promote the adoption of renewable energy and the sustainable use of different forms of renewable energy (bioenergy, hydropower, wind energy, etc.). The Bill was sent to the second reading.

 

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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