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On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act and Associated Acts (874 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The amendments of the Traffic Act are due to the need to specify and amend the regulations set out in the Traffic Act. The Bill specifies the scope of application of the Traffic Act, that is, a driver who drives a vehicle off the road must also have the right to drive the power-driven vehicle or all-terrain vehicle. The amendments also concern the regulation of the limitation period of fines for delay, the use of emergency lights of emergency vehicles, the bases of establishing the rates of compensation for towing of a vehicle to a guarded storage facility and storing it there, and the transitory provisions relating to the date of the medical examination of drivers of power-driven vehicles and the right to drive. The Bill was sent to the second reading.

On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the Citizens of Estonia Return to Home Bill (821 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 46 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 27 members voted against and 2 members abstained. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act (823 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 50 votes in favour. The current organisation of the unemployment insurance in the Unemployment Insurance Act is amended. According to the amendments, in the future, the employment services and labour market benefits offered to insured persons, except for the unemployment allowance, will also be financed from the collected unemployment insurance funds. For that purpose, the labour market services and benefits foundation capital will be established. The new provisions concerning the employment programme which are introduced to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act increase the role of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund in the process of preparation and approval of the employment programme. According to the amendments, the employment programme is prepared by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the employment programme which has been approved by the supervisory board of the unemployment insurance fund is approved by the Government. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2011. 27 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act.
 
The Riigikogu passed with 55 votes in favour the State Budget of 2011 Act (822 SE), initiated by the Government. According to the consolidated budget, the revenue of the state will increase by over 2%, that is, to 5.6 billion euro (87.7 billion kroons) next year. The increase of the revenue is connected to the increased accrual of the taxable revenue, the value added tax and social tax covering the largest share. The contribution of non-taxable revenue to the budget will reduce by nearly 4%, in comparison to 2010. The volume of the budget expenditure will increase by 5%, to 5.9 billion euro (92.5 billion kroons). The increase of the budget volume is due to the resumption of funded pension contributions and the increase of pension payments in connection with the growing number of pensioners, among other things. Education is a long-term priority in the budget and a next year’s priority, too, the growth amounting to nearly 8%. The growth of defence spending will increase to 1.9% of GDP and social sphere expenses will increase by 154 million euro. In 2011, the receipt of supports will increase by 12%, to 1.9 billion euro, including foreign supports which are planned to amount to 1 billion euro. The use of foreign support in comparison to 2010 will increase most in the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs. 32 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Financial Supervision Authority Act, the Investment Funds Act, the Credit Institutions Act and the Guarantee Fund Act (810 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 69 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to increase the operativeness and efficiency of exercise of financial supervision in a crisis situation. Accordingly, for example, it eliminates the restrictions provided in the law which is currently in force which do not enable the Financial Supervision Authority to obtain necessary information from the subjects of financial supervision pursuant to the expedited procedure in risk or crisis situations. It also provides as a significant amendment the possibility for the state to consider, upon existence of specific grounds, expropriation of a credit institution if this is necessary for securing financial stability. That, however, only in the case when this aim cannot be achieved by application of other relevant measures. The maximum amount of deposit guarantee is increased to 100 000 euro instead of the current 50 000 euro per depositor in a credit institution. This new maximum limit will apply as of the beginning of 2011. All amendments are aimed at ensuring the functioning of the Estonian financial system on regular bases, that is, its stability on a wider scale, and preventing potential financial crises. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2011.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act and Associated Acts (653 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 67 votes in favour (4 members of the Riigikogu abstained). The purpose of the Act is to update the Maritime Safety Act and to bring it into conformity with the requirements of European Union legislation and international conventions. Amendments and specifications arising from practice are made in the Maritime Safety Act and other associated Acts, and the problems which have emerged in the implementation of the Maritime Safety Act which is currently in force are solved. The maritime safety requirements and liability and fines in the event of violation of the Act are specified. New sections are added to the Maritime Safety Act which provide the maritime safety management system, the classes of the maritime safety audit of shipowners and their ships and the requirements for the conduct of additional audits, nonconformities discovered in auditing, etc. Several amendments concern pilotage, the requirements for pilots and the activities of pilots as well as the handling of marine casualties. An amendment added during the second reading provides compulsory pilotage for tankers in the inland maritime waters and in the water area of a port. At the same time, several new state fees are established and the regulation concerning the raising of sunken property is updated. The Act enters into force on 2 January 2011.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Consular Act and Other Acts (824 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 67 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to bring the Consular Act into conformity with the Civil Status Acts Act which entered into force on 1 July 2010. With the amendments, among other things, honorary consuls of Estonia are granted the right to issue Estonian identity cards. According to the Act which is currently in force, a consular officer or an honorary consul issues a passport of Estonia citizen to an Estonian citizen staying in a foreign state. At present, only consular officers have the right to issue identity documents. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2011.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act and the Euro Adoption Act (809 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 70 votes in favour. The amendments specify the provisions concerning the calculation and payment of the pollution charge for ambient air emissions and waste and the fee for mineral rights. Clause 1 1) of the Act enters into force on 1 January 2015, and clauses 1 3) and 5) and § 2 enter into force on 1 January 2011.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Fishing Act and the Euro Adoption Act (828 SE) and (724 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 50 votes in favour (1 member of the Riigikogu abstained). The purpose of the Act is to solve the problems arising in the fisheries sector due to overfishing of fishery resources. The Act provides norms on the basis of which the fishing opportunities of the following year for an undertaking who has been overfishing are reduced; a possibility is granted to compensate for “forced fishing” to an undertaking whose fishing opportunities were not used to the full extent due to overfishing by other undertakings. The state is granted the possibility to react to overfishing in an adequate and timely manner. The use of fishery resources will be made more transparent for the public. According to the amendments, the data concerning the permitted fishing opportunities designated to undertakings for the calendar year and the actual use thereof, and the quantity of fish actually caught by them are public. In the future, the Ministry of Agriculture will have to prepare and publish on its website an overview covering the above-mentioned data concerning all professional fishers of Estonia for every quarter. The data will be published broken down by water areas, counties and permanently inhabited small islands.
 
The Resolution “Use of the Estonian Defence Forces in Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State in the Composition of the Nordic Battle Group of the European Union” (850 OE), submitted by the Government, was passed with 48 votes in favour. According to the Resolution, up to 55 members of the Defence Forces may be used, as necessary, in a military operation organised for the purpose of maintaining or restoring peace and security in the Composition of the Nordic Battle Group of the European Union from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011.
 
The Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State under the Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo” (851 OE), submitted by the Government, was passed with 42 votes in favour. According to the Resolution, the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in the membership of Kosovo Force (KFOR), led by NATO, is extended until 31 December 2011.
 
The Resolution “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State under the Peacekeeping Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (852 OE), submitted by the Government, was passed with 41 votes in favour. According to the Resolution, the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, led by the European Union Force (EUFOR), is extended until 31 December 2011.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Notaries Act, the Notary Fees Act and the Euro Adoption Act and Associated Acts (833 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended. The amendments are connected with the adoption of the euro. Notarial acts with fixed fee rates in euro are provided in these Acts. The second reading of the Bill will be resumed.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Financial Supervision Authority Act, the Investment Funds Act, the Credit Institutions Act and the Securities Market Act (834 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The main purpose of the Bill is to harmonise Estonian law with the European Parliament and Council directive on enhancing financial supervision cooperation with the aim of increasing financial stability all over the European Union as a whole. The management of the positions of large exposures (e.g. great loans granted by credit institutions) and the capital qualities of credit institutions is improved by establishing certain requirements for equity capital and securities which have characteristics of debt instruments, and the requirements for liquidity risk management are also improved. 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 Waste Act and the Local Government Organisation Act (866 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The amendments arise from a Council of the European Union directive. Their purpose is to prohibit the use of equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls as of 1 January 2011. Holders of such equipment containing PCBs will have to eliminate the equipment by 31 December 2010 at the latest. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Draft Code of Administrative Court Procedure (755 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. A new consolidated text of the Code of Administrative Court Procedure is needed because the current Code of Administrative Court Procedure which entered into force in January 2000 and which has been amended for 21 times is fragmentary and no longer meets the needs of the Estonian legal system which has developed further in the meantime. Because of the large number of amendments that have been proposed, amendment of the Code of Administrative Court Procedure which is currently in force is out of the question. The Draft was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Prosecutor’s Office Act (814 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended. The purpose of the Bill is to additionally ensure independence of the Prosecutor’s Office from undesired influences, and the corresponding accountability and responsibility which are necessary prerequisites for the administration of justice in a state based on the rule of law. The second reading will be resumed at the 9th session.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Chemicals Act, the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Act, the Rescue Act and the State Fees Act (817 SE), initiatedby the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to organise the regulation related to the right of activity of dangerous enterprises and enterprises liable to be affected by a major accident. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (862 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to introduce into penal law the amendments concerning environmental crime which are made on the basis of European Union law. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the University of Tartu Act and the Universities Act (858 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill proposes amending of the University of Tartu Act as regards management of the University and specifies the functions of the University of Tartu as the national university. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Archives Bill (854 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Act provides the organisation of appraisal of documents, acquisition and preservation of records, granting access thereto and the use thereof, and the liability for rendering them unusable or destroying them unlawfully, as well as the bases of the activities of the National Archives and other public archives. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
At Question Time of the Riigikogu, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts answered the question about the amendment of the Traffic Act, submitted by Nikolai Põdramägi, and Jaak Aab’s question about infrastructure. The Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas in the capacity of Prime Minister answered Mark Soosaar’s question about sending of Estonians abroad and the Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur answered Evelyn Sepp’s question about the Government’s development plan for combating violence and Marika Tuus’ question about problems related to unemployment.
 
For more details, read the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):
 
The sitting ended at 6.40 p.m.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
 
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