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The Deputy Chancellor of Justice-Adviser Hent-Raul Kalmo took the oath of office before the Riigikogu.

The Riigikogu passed with 81 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act, the International Sanctions Act and the Estonian Central Register of Securities Act (157 SE), initiated by the Government. The amendments specify the definitions used, extend the range of obligated subjects and explain their obligations upon application of diligence measures and performance of the notification obligation. The provisions regulating the independence and competence of the Financial Intelligence Unit are also amended. According to the amendments, in the future, the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act will also apply to undertakings engaging in buying up or wholesale trade in precious metals, articles of precious metal which have become unusable, and precious stones. The initiator stated that the Financial Intelligence Unit had noted, as of the second half of 2010, a trend of handling and also trading of used articles of precious metal (including broken gold items) and gold granules of unknown origin in large quantities in Estonia. In addition, in gold sale schemes, “cover enterprises” are used through which value added tax which, as a general rule, no one has ever paid is reclaimed from the state. Thus, because of known transactions of gold sale alone, the amount of value added tax not received by the state was no less than 10 million kroons last year. The obligated subjects within the meaning of the Act also include non-profit associations and foundations to which the Act applies in the case of transactions where payments are made in cash in an amount of EUR 15,000 or more. In connection with that, non-profit associations and foundations are obliged to apply diligence measures for identification of the person of the other party of such transactions and for preservation of relevant data. Also, suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing have to be reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit. In the text of the International Sanctions Act, the amounts denominated in kroons are corrected and set out in euro, and the issues of jurisdiction in administrative proceedings are specified.

The Resolution “Increasing the Holding of the Republic of Estonia in the Council of Europe Development Bank” (196 OE), submitted by the Government, was passed with 60 votes in favour. According to the Resolution, the Riigikogu grants its consent to increasing Estonia’s holding in the Council of Europe Development Bank to the extent of 5086 participation certificates totalling 5,086,000 euro. The Government of the Republic is authorised to perform the acts necessary for the subscription of the certificates. The increasing of capital will enable the Council of Europe Development Bank to better meet the increased loan needs of customers in the post economic and financial crisis situation, and, according to the approved development plan for 2010–2014 of the bank, to direct funds in the first place to the least developed member states that have less financing opportunities. The Resolution enters into force upon signature. One member of the Riigikogu abstained.

The proposal No 15 from the Chancellor of Justice concerning calculation of the unemployment insurance period (a proposal to bring subsection 7 (2) of the Unemployment Insurance Act into conformity with the Constitution) was deliberated. The Chancellor of Justice is of the opinion that subsection 7 (2) of the Unemployment Insurance Act is in conflict with the fundamental right to equality arising from subsection 12 (1) of the Constitution. It leaves the persons insured against unemployment without the unemployment insurance benefit or allows to pay the benefit during a significantly shorter period of time in the cases when the employer has paid the unemployment insurance premium for every month required but not on a monthly basis, in difference to the insured persons whose insurance premiums have been paid by the employer on a monthly basis. 73 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice, on the basis of which the chair of the sitting assigned the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu with the task of initiating a Bill for bringing the Unemployment Insurance Act into conformity with the Constitution.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Building Act, the Apartment Associations Act, the Apartment Ownership Act and the Building Association Act (156 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The main aim of the Bill is to harmonise Estonian legislation with the European Parliament and Council directive on the energy performance of buildings, and to contribute to the improvement of the efficiency of energy use in buildings by allowing easier access to the information on the energy consumption of a building and possible energy saving measures for users of existing buildings, and by applying principles suitable in the Estonian conditions in designing of the parts of buildings which determine energy consumption, when planning new buildings. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act (187 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill amends the basis for the determination of the fishing charges for the fishing gear used to catch eels in the water bodies where expenses are incurred for reproducing eel resources by way of restocking young eels. The Bill also specifies the provision which establishes the range of the limit rates for the fishing charge for demersal seine or Danish seine in regard to the demersal seine used on Lake Peipus. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act (182 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments transpose the European Parliament and Council Directive on Intelligent Transport Systems. The purpose of the Bill is to promote the application of information and communication technologies to the road transport sector and its interfaces with other modes of transport with a view to making a contribution to improving environmental performance, efficiency, safety and security of road transport and passenger and freight mobility, whilst at the same time ensuring the functioning of the internal market as well as increased levels of competitiveness and employment. The Bill was sent to the third reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and Other Associated Acts (139 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended. The primary purpose of the Bill 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.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second 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 third reading.

On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Competition Act (195 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring the Competition Act which is currently in force into conformity with the current European Union regulation concerning competition law in order to organise the granting of state aid more effectively. The amendments harmonise the definitions used in the Competition Act and in the European Commission legislation concerning state aid. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Ratification of Amendments to Articles 1 and 18 of the Agreement Establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (201 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the amendments to be ratified is to extend the activity mandate of the Bank to Mediterranean countries and to allow Special Funds accepted by the Bank to be used in its recipient countries and potential recipient countries. The amendments to the Agreement are connected with the “Arabian spring” events in the first half of 2011 when revolutions to establish democracy took place in North-Africa and Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia). Many international organisations, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, have already been active in this region, wishing to contribute to the development of democracy and this region. Amendments to the Agreement establishing the bank will involve no additional expenses from the state budget for Estonia. Upon the extension of the activities of the bank, no additional capital will be required from members. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of India and the Republic of Estonia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income (207 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Agreement to be ratified regulates the division of the taxation right between the Contracting States, and provides avoidance of discriminatory taxation and the obligation to prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Emergency Act (204 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to ensure the consistent functioning of vital services in a situation where the information systems ensuring the service which are located in foreign countries do not function and/or the electronic communications service with foreign countries has been interrupted. Services which are necessary for the organisation of vital social acts, health care, security, safety and the economic and social welfare of people are considered to be vital services. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the State Fees Act and Other Associated Acts (206 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to correct the current state fee rates, to simplify the system of calculation of state fees, and to encourage the use of the public e-file information system intended for parties to proceedings. It also intends to bring the level of the Estonian state fees depending on the value of an action closer to the average of reference countries. According to an assessment provided in an analysis of the Ministry of Justice, the Estonian state fees are 334.93% higher on the average in comparison with other European Union countries. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the Anti-corruption Bill (192 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to increase the transparency of public administration, to prevent corruption of higher officials, to improve the reliability of the system of publication of the interests of officials, and to reduce the administrative burden. The Bill establishes a new electronic register of declarations of interests and determines officials who have to submit their information to the register, and persons who have the right to check the information in the register. It also defines officials whose declarations will be public. In order to view the public data of a declaration, a person will have to identify himself or herself by a digital identity card. The register of declarations of interests is planned to be implemented from 1 January 2014. In addition, the range of officials who may be requested to submit a declaration will be extended. The Bill is based on the principle that official position comprises the cases when, upon performance of public duties, a person’s competence includes activities which enable to create advantages for himself or herself or to grant them to another person, and, consequently, there is at least an abstract risk that the person may misuse his or her competence. As a significant amendment, the Bill also reduces the restrictions on the activities of officials, allowing officials to engage in any other activities outside their official duties if this is not prohibited by law, and procedural restrictions are observed. So an official will be allowed to act as an undertaking or general partner in a general or limited partnership, as a member of the management or controlling body of a legal person, in an elected or appointed office, as well as on the basis of a contract of employment or a contract for the provision of a service. The Bill is an updated version of the Anti-corruption Act initiated on 11 June 2009 which was withdrawn from the legislative proceeding due to termination of the authority of the composition of the Riigikogu. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

The Riigikogu Press Service

 

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