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The Riigikogu passed with 54 votes in favour 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, 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. The aim of the Act is 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. 38 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. This Act enters into force on 1 January 2012; clauses 2 1) and 2), § 13 and clause 18 7) enter into force on the tenth day after publication in the Riigi Teataja.

The Act on Amendments to § 5 of the Value Added Tax Act (134 SE), initiated by the Finance Committee, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The amendments preserve the reduced limit of the refund of value added tax (38.35 euro) upon sale with value added tax refund (tax free) which is in force temporarily (1.01.2010-31.12.2011). The proposal to reduce the limits has been made by the Estonian Traders’ Association, the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Estonian Association of Travel Agents. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications had supported the proposal. In its opinion, the tax-free limit which was reduced to 38.5 euro for two years in January 2010 has had a positive impact on the tourism sector. According to this Act, the limit is made comparable with that in neighbouring countries and the limit of 38 euro is established for tax free sale. The amendment will have a favourable effect on the growth of tourism which in turn will increase budget receipts. 4 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2012.
 
The Act 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 passed with 55 votes in favour. The amendments raise the alcohol excise duty rates and consolidate the funds of the health insurance fund and the unemployment insurance fund with the state budget. 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. At the same time, they 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 60% loan restriction of local governments is also extended for the next year. 40 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act. This Act enters into force on the day following the day of publication in the Riigi Teataja, § 3 of the Act enters into force on 1 January 2012 and § 1 enters into force on 1 February 2012.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Prosecutor’s Office Act (126 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, was passed with 71 votes in favour. The Act regulates the remuneration of prosecutors. The amendments are due to the need to keep the salaries of prosecutors in proportion to the salaries of judges and other higher state officials in order to ensure the balance between the different branches of power. The Act provides that, upon determination of the remuneration of prosecutors, guidance is taken from the principles for determining the salaries of judges and the monthly salary rate of the Chief Public Prosecutor may not exceed the salary rate specified in subsection 2 (1) of the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act multiplied by the highest salary rate index specified in subsection (2) multiplied by factor 0.85. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and 2 members of the Riigikogu abstained. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2013.
 
The Strategic Goods Act (96 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The Act transposes the relevant European Union Directives, the aim of which is to simplify terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community and to establish an appropriate and modern strategic goods control system well functioning in practice. The Act also increases the responsibility of undertakings dealing with strategic goods and provides for a training and information obligation for persons dealing with strategic goods. The latter concerns undertakings dealing with strategic goods, state agency employees (security police, police and customs) as well as judges and students (e.g. the Academy of Security Sciences). The Act enters into force on 1 January 2012, and subsection 14 (6), subsection 25 (5), §§ 36‒48 and subsection 51 (3) enter into force on 30 June 2012.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Aviation Act, the Maritime Safety Act and the Railways Act (103 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 84 votes in favour. The amendments harmonise the regulations relating to the safety investigation of aircraft incidents, marine casualties and railway accidents. The Act transposes into the Maritime Safety Act the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on marine casualty investigation. 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 Centre, amendments are necessary in the Aviation Act, the Maritime Safety Act and the Railways Act. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2012.
 
The State Budget of 2012 Act (99 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 55 votes in favour. The revenues of the state budget of 2012 will amount to 6.116 billion and the expenditures will amount to 6.576 billion euro. For the third reading, the Finance Committee added a motion to amend, the major amendments contained therein being related to the postponement of the entry into force of the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act, the increase of the share capital of Estonian Air Plc, the postponement of the alcohol excise duty rise by one month, the liquidation proceeding of Muuseumiehituse SA, specification of the activity plan increasing the life-saving capacity of the Rescue Board, and allowing the State Forest Management Centre to take a short-term loan from the Ministry of Finance. Additional funds are allocated for supporting regional projects and for investments in the education, environment, culture and social spheres, for supporting the implementation of international study programmes, for infertility treatment and for enhancing the effectiveness of drug tests. Allocations to the rescue union, rescue centres, additional voluntary commandos in different regions and the operating expenses of the Police and Border Guard Board are also increased. 44 members of the Riigikogu voted against the state budget of 2012.
 
The 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 passed with 72 votes in favour. The Resolution extends the time limit of the use of up to 170 members of the Defence Forces in the international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in the composition of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) until 31 December 2012.
 
The 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 passed with 71 votes in favour. The Resolution extends the possibility of the use of up to 45 members of the Defence Forces (as necessary) in the composition of the NATO Response Force (NRF) until 31 December 2012.
 
The 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 passed with 69 votes in favour. The Resolution extends 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 and NATO naval operation Active Endeavour until 31 December 2012.
 
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and Other Associated Acts (129 SE) (129 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to transpose the relevant European Parliament and Council Directives on temporary agency work and on parental leave, and to introduce the necessary amendments into Estonian Acts. The Bill simplifies the conclusion and extension of fixed-term contracts in the case of temporary agency work, enables employers more easily to extend fixed-term contracts or conclude them again in the case of a temporary agency work relationship, establishes the information obligation of employers in the case of a temporary agency work relationship, and introduces other amendments. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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