Prime Minister Andrus Ansip made a political statement in the Riigikogu today in connection with the State Budget of 2012 Bill submitted to the legislative proceeding of the Riigikogu by the Government. The Prime Minister stressed that it is a conservative budget, based, on the one hand, on the reality of the world economy where economic forecasts have taken a more pessimistic turn and, on the other hand, on the promises made to electors in spring. He also called it a budget of stability and increasing of employment. Ansip: “The revenue of the next year’s state budget will be 6.11 billion euro. The expenditure will be 6.75 billion euro. In comparison to 2011, expenditure will grow by 11 per cent, that is, 652.7 million euro. The budget has been prepared with a deficit of 2.1 per cent of GDP.” Ansip explained the deficit by two components: the influence of investing the money received from the sale of emissions quota on the budget position of the government sector will amount to as much as 1.5 per cent of GDP next year and state contributions to the second pillar pension will be restored in full amount next year. The Prime Minister presumed that, next year, Estonia’s debt burden would remain the lowest in the European Union, 5.8% of GDP, and the state budget deficit and financing transactions are going to be financed at the expense of reserves. Tax burden is expected to remain at the same level, that is, 32.4 per cent, next year. “The state will continue to stimulate the economy by increasing the volume of investments which will also bring along a significant growth of employment,” promised Ansip. Larger volumes of investments concern the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment. In Ansip’s words, social protection costs will account for the largest part, that is, one third of the state budget expenditure but nevertheless they will increase by 190 million, that is, by 10%. As the most important fact, he mentioned the Government’s decision to raise pensions by 4.4 per cent starting from next year. He also mentioned the health insurance part which will amount to 770 million euro and will grant an opportunity to restore the prices of health care services in health insurance to the pre-crisis level. Social benefits will increase by circa 9.4 million euro in total. 2.5 million euro will be used for improving housing conditions of families with many children and other target groups. The budget of the sphere of culture will increase by 11%. “It is the first time that we are planning defence spending to amount to the target promised to our NATO partners, that is, two per cent of GDP,” said Ansip. In his opinion, these funds are needed for strengthening Estonia’s defence capabilities. In conclusion, the Prime Minister said: “Estonia’s finances are among the best organised finances in Europe. It is a value to be safeguarded. The budget that has been submitted will keep the state’s finances in order.”
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 402 of the State Budget Act
), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was concluded. The initiator stated that the Bill would grant the Government the possibility to guarantee debt obligations to the European Financial Stability Facility which this Act does not allow at present. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Mental Health Act
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, the amendments regulate the restrictions on the right of ownership of patients who are in treatment at a psychiatric hospital. The aim of the restrictions is to create preconditions for ensuring that persons who are in in-patient psychiatric treatment do not hold substances or items which may harm their own or other persons’ health, security or inviolability of private life. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 2 of the Public and National Holidays Act
initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was concluded. The initiator wishes to include Easter Monday among public holidays. The motion made by the Constitutional Committee to reject the Bill at the first reading was not supported by the Riigikogu. 60 members of the Riigikogu voted against the motion and 12 members voted in favour, 3 abstained. Thus, 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 Youth Work Act and the Social Tax Act
), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was concluded. The initiator stated that the initiation of the Bill was necessitated by the need to regulate the concept of “pupils’ summer brigade” at the level of an Act and to increase the number of places in pupils’ summer brigade by exempting employers from the social tax paid on the remuneration paid in money to young people who work in the pupils’ summer brigade for 13‒18 year olds. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
The Act on Ratification of the Cooperation Agreement on Pension Insurance between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation
), initiated by the Government, was passed with 56 votes in favour. The aim of the Agreement is to develop the cooperation between the two states in the field of pension insurance. The Agreement helps to realise the pension rights of the citizens of the parties to the Agreement and stateless persons, who have lived in the Republic of Estonia and in the Russian Federation and earned their pension qualifying period on the territory of those states. The Agreement replaces “The Cooperation Agreement on Pension Insurance between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Russian Federation”, signed in 1993, which will be in force until 16 October 2011, and “The Protocol Amending the Cooperation Agreement on Pension Insurance between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Russian Federation”, signed in 2002. Nobody voted against the ratification of the Agreement.
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Aviation Act
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, compulsory rules for calculation of airport fees will be established such that the bases and criteria for calculation of airport fees would be non-discriminatory, objective and transparent for airport users. The Bill also provides compulsory consultations between the airport managing body and airport users. The airport managing body will have to consult airport users before establishing particular new levels of charges as well as annually on a regular basis. The Bill provides the possibility for the airport managing body and airport users to agree on quality standards of the airport services. The Directive 2009/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, transposed by the Bill, applies to those airports of Member States whose annual traffic is over five million passenger movements and to the airport with the highest passenger movement in each Member State; in Estonia, it is Tallinn Airport Ltd. The Bill was sent to the third 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 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development”
), submitted by the Government, was concluded. According to the draft Resolution, the Riigikogu grants its consent to increasing the holding of the Republic of Estonia in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the extent of 900 callable shares totalling 9,000,000 euro. The capital of the bank is increased with the aim of reacting to the increased loan needs of customers and to continue developing of the economy of customer states also in the post economic and financial crisis situation. The draft Resolution was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Act on the Accession to the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. With the amendments, provisions are added to this Act such that Estonia could make a declaration to the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children which was adopted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 1996. The amendment will ensure that, in determining the law applicable in the relations of children and parents with a cross-border element, it will be possible to proceed from a uniform regulation in Estonia and in the future there will be no need to take into account the specifications arising from legal aid contracts. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Plant Propagation and Plant Variety Rights Act
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments bring the Act into conformity with the Commission Directive 2010/60/EU which entered into force on 30 August 2010. The Bill will allow the marketing of fodder plant seed mixtures which are intended for use in the preservation of the natural environment in the context of the conservation of genetic resources, even where the components of those mixtures do not comply with some of the general requirements for marketing. As a general requirement, a plant species will have to be in the list of plant species subject to entry in the Variety List and meet the quality requirements set for the plant species and no marketing authorisation will be required; instead, requirements are established for producers of fodder plant seed mixtures and the components of seed mixtures. The Bill also corrects the inaccuracies which have become apparent during implementation of the Plant Propagation and Plant Variety Rights Act in connection with transposition of the directive regulating the marketing of fruit plant propagating material and fruit plants intended for fruit production. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Waste Act
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. Specifications arising from European Union directives will be made to the Waste Act. The aim of the specifications is to clarify the definitions of the main concepts of waste management, to help implement measures regarding waste prevention and to encourage the recovery of waste and the use of recovered materials. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Radiation Act
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to specify the role of different agencies in ensuring radiation safety and at the same time to specify the procedure for safe inclusion of radioactive substances and waste and reacting to a radiological emergency. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
The Riigikogu Press Service