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On the motion of the Finance Committee, the Bill on Amendments to § 4 of the Income Tax Act (97 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion to reject and 39 members voted against. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.

On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Parental Benefit Act and the State Family Benefits Act (98 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 50 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion to reject and 37 members voted against. The Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
The Riigikogu passed with 57 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the State Budget of 2011 Act (114 SE), initiated by the Government. The Act provides amendments in the budgets of constitutional institutions, the State Chancellery and ministries. The major amendments are made in health care and social protection expenditure. Health care expenditure will increase by 836 468 euro, that is, by 0.1%. This includes 509,840 euro intended for procuring additional HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis medicines and 250 000 euro planned for procuring ten resuscitation devices for the emergency medical care on small islands and in borderlands. Additional 89 326 euro are planned for leisure, cultural and religious activities which will increase the expenditure of this sphere by 0.05%. The funds will be used for development of the environment education centre at the Estonian Museum of Natural History and for renovation of the exhibition building of the Estonian Agricultural Museum. The funds allocated for guaranteeing public order and security will increase by 58 514 euro, that is, by 0.02%. The additional funds are provided for covering the repair and maintenance expenses of rescue vehicles and for mitigating the fuel price rise. An amendment was added to the budget of the Ministry of Justice and it is connected with the financing of the annotated edition of the Constitution published on the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of Estonia. Two members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. The Act enters into force on the day following publication in the Riigi Teataja.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Private Schools Act and Other Acts (92 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 58 votes in favour. The Act changes the regulation concerning joint study programmes in the Universities Act, in order to support the cooperation of educational institutions in opening joint study programmes. The regulation of the Universities Act being applied also to private schools and institutions of professional higher education, the relevant references in the Private Schools Act and the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act are corrected. The amendments support the possibility of establishing new innovative interdisciplinary study programmes which engage different fields of strength of educational institutions. In addition, the mistake is corrected in the Private Schools Act which up to now put private universities in an inequitable situation as compared to universities in public law by requiring that specialised private universities carry out instruction at all levels in several fields of study. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2012; clause 2 2) of the Act enters into force on the day following publication in the Riigi Teataja.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act (83 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 65 votes in favour. The amendments regulate the issues relating to the financing and the organisation of the work of the rescue commando of the Estonian Power Plant of Narva Power Plants Ltd with the aim of enhancing the consistent functioning of a vital service through the necessary rescue capacity. Ensuring the consistent functioning of a vital service is so important for the society that, besides the state, providers of vital services also have to take relevant measures in view of the character of their activities. As one measure, the amendment provides that, upon ensuring the consistent functioning of production of electricity as a vital service, the provider of the vital service is required to ensure the obligation to carry out rescue work through a rescue unit located on its territory or in the immediate vicinity thereof. The Act also establishes the basis for implementation of effective risk managing measures upon emergence of new providers of vital services. The amendment follows the principle that the obligation to support the carrying out of rescue work at different facilities is provided in relevant specific Acts. Section 1 of this Act enters into force on 1 January 2012 and § 2 enters into force on 1 January 2014.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Other Acts (106 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 73 votes in favour. The aim of the Act is to transpose into Estonian law the legal provisions necessary for the implementation of the relevant directives of the Council of the European Union. They will make the administrative cooperation in the field of taxation between Estonia and other Member States more efficient, and simplify and harmonise the international tax recovery procedure and the procedure for the exchange of information necessary for taxation. The provisions which have been problematic in the interpretation and application of the current Act are also specified which will improve legal certainty in tax proceedings for taxable persons as well as for tax authorities. This Act enters into force on 1 January 2012; clause 1 26) enters into force on 1 January 2013.
 
The Act on Ratification of the Agreement between Jersey and the Republic of Estonia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income (111 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 69 votes in favour. With this Act, the Riigikogu ratified the Agreement between Jersey and the Republic of Estonia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income. The Act also provides opportunities to implement this Agreement. The Agreement was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Urmas Paet and the Treasury and Resources Minister of Jersey Philip Ozouf in London on 21 December 2010. The Convention regulates the division of the taxation right between the parties and provides avoidance of discriminatory taxation and the obligation to prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
 
The Act on Ratification of the Protocol amending the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Singapore for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income Signed at Singapore on 18 September 2006 (112 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 64 votes in favour. The Agreement between Estonia and Singapore entered into force on 27 December 2007. The Agreement is supplemented by the protocol which entered into force together with the Agreement and which specifies certain provisions of the Agreement. The need to conclude a new protocol arose from the need to extend the scope of the exchange of information provided by the Agreement.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Aviation Act, the Maritime Safety Act and the Railways Act (103 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, the regulations relating to the safety investigation of aircraft incidents, marine casualties and railway accidents are amended. The relevant Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on marine casualty investigation is transposed into the Maritime Safety Act. A new structural unit, the Safety Investigation Centre, will be established at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. For the establishing and the functioning of the Safety Investigation Centre, it will be necessary to make amendments to three Acts – the Aviation Act, the Maritime Safety Act and the Railways 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 Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act, the Financial Management of Local Government Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act relating to the State Budget of 2012 Act (100 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill raises the excise duty rate on alcohol by 5% and amends the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act as regards the management and administration of the funds of the legal persons established on the basis of these Acts. The funds of both the Health Insurance Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund will be pooled in the State Treasury, that is, the bank accounts belonging to them will be merged with the state bank accounts group. The Estonian Health Insurance Fund and the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund will remain owners of their funds and they will be able to use their funds at any time for performance of the functions provided for in Acts. The Ministry of Finance will pay interests to them on the residue of the funds. The amendments to the Financial Management of Local Government Act concern loan restrictions of local governments and postponing of the implementation of the ceiling to loans in the extent of the amount of the income from principal activity. According to the motions to amend the Bill, amendments to the Artificial Insemination and Embryo Protection Act and the Prosecutor’s Office Act will be omitted from the text of the Act. The motion to amend according to which the alcohol excise duty rise will be postponed by one month, so that it will enter into force on 1 February 2012, also found support. The Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill; 47 members of the Riigikogu voted against and 38 voted in favour. Thus, the Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Temporary Administration of Payment of Salaries related to Average Wages in Estonia Act, the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act, Acts relating to Transfer of Courts Centre of Accounting to Area of Government of Ministry of Finance, the State Budget Act and the Government of the Republic Act and Other Associated Acts (101 SE), initiated by the Government, which aims to postpone the planned salary rise of the higher state servants by one year and to extend the validity of the Temporary Administration of Payment of Salaries related to Average Wages in Estonia Act which is currently in force by one year, was concluded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act (124 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, not only holders of a child care certificate but also others who have the knowledge and skills suitable therefor will be allowed to work as a childcarer. The education requirements for childcarers were first established in 2007, at the same time when the professional qualification standard of childcarers was established. According to the Act which is currently in force, representatives of other specialties who, in terms of their training, fully or in a large part meet the requirements of the professional qualification standard of childcarers, having studied in some other specialty, e.g. teachers who have specialised as subject teacher, etc., would not be allowed to work as childcarers as of 2012. The Bill provides that a person who has appropriate education of the same level or even a higher level than a holder of a child care certificate will be granted the right to work as a childcarer. Another amendment introduced by the Bill enables to appoint both a caregiver and a guardian to a person, as necessary. Today’s regulation does not allow appointing a caregiver to a person who at the same time also needs a guardian. Determination of the suitability of a person as a guardian or caregiver will remain within the competence of the court and local governments. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Increasing the Holding of the Republic of Estonia in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development” (125 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. With the Resolution, the Riigikogu grants its consent to increasing Estonia’s holding in the Bank to the extent of 247 shares according to which contributions will be made to the share capital of this bank to the extent of 1 787 810,70 USD during four years as of 2012. In the Resolution, the amount is written in US dollars because, due to changes in currency rates, the exact payable amount cannot be written in euro. The Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance will be authorised to perform the acts necessary for the share subscription. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to Legislation relating to Membership in International Monetary Fund (132 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to transfer the proprietary obligations of the Republic of Estonia assumed with membership in the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to Eesti Pank. The Bill is also intended to specify the rights and duties of Eesti Pank in representing the Republic of Estonia in the IMF. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Grant of Consent to Increasing the Quota of the Republic of Estonia in the International Monetary Fund” (133 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the draft Resolution is to grant consent to the payment of the contribution for increasing Estonia’s quota and to authorise Eesti Pank to perform the acts necessary to increase the holding. The Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) adopted a resolution in 2008 which included a proposal to amend the IMF’s Articles of Agreement and quota formula, and to increase the quota and redistribute the voting rights of under-represented member countries, including Estonia. One aim of the amendments to the Articles of Association of the IMF approved by the Riigikogu was to enhance the voice and participation of IMF member countries, “the quota and voice reform“, in order to ensure better representation and stronger voting right in the IMF for countries with a dynamically developed economy, including Estonia. For that, the system for calculating the total number of votes of member countries was amended in the Articles of Association of the IMF and a proposal to increase the quota was made to under-represented member countries, including Estonia. The quota cannot be changed without the consent of the member country and it has to be decided separately at the national level. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Public Procurement Act (113 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill transposes the relevant EU directive. Before the transposition of the Directive, contracting authorities were not required to follow the procedure provided by law when organising procurements in the fields of defence and security. Once the directive will be transposed, uniform rules will be established for contracting authorities for procurements where it is impossible to apply the usual procedure provided for in this Act. Accordingly, the directive lays down measures which the contracting authorities can use additionally in the case of contracts in the fields of defence and security (protection of classified information and security of supply requirements). With application of these requirements, it will be possible to carry out public procurements related to national security more openly and, consequently, a greater number of tenderers will have an opportunity to participate in these procurement procedures. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State under the Peacekeeping Mission in Afghanistan” (119 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. According to the draft Resolution, the time limit of the use of up to 170 members of the Defence Forces in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in the composition of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), led by NATO, is extended until 31 December 2012. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Composition of the European Union Anti-Piracy Operation Atalanta and NATO Naval Operation Active Endeavour” (122 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. According to the draft Resolution, the time limit of the use of up to 15 members of the Defence Forces in the composition of the European Union Anti-Piracy Operation Atalanta (European Union Naval Force Somalia) and NATO Naval Operation Active Endeavour is extended until 31 December 2012. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Composition of the NATO Response Force” (117 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. According to the draft Resolution, the use of up to 45 members of the Defence Forces in the composition of the NATO Response Force (NRF) is extended until 31 December 2012, as necessary. The NRF can be used, as necessary, in a collective defence operation under the North Atlantic Treaty as well as in a military operation organised for the purpose of maintaining or restoring peace and security on the basis of the provisions of Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter, or in any other military operation in compliance with generally recognised practices and principles of international law. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State under the Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo” (118 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. According to the draft Resolution, the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in this mission in the composition of Kosovo Force (KFOR), led by NATO, is extended until 31 December 2012. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State in Iraq” (120 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. The draft Resolution provides the extension of the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in this mission in the composition of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) until 31 December 2012. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the draft Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (121 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded. The draft Resolution provides the extension of the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in the UN-led peacekeeping mission (UNTSO – United Nations Truce Supervision Organization) in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria until 31 December 2012. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
 
The sitting ended at 7.16 p.m.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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