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The Riigikogu passed with 76 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Utility Models Act, the Patents Act, the Principles of Legal Regulation of Industrial Property Act and the State Fees Act (5 SE), initiated by the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Estonian Reform Party Faction. The amendments are due to the need to update these Acts and to eliminate the problems which have appeared. The updating involves first of all bringing the Acts into conformity with the new version of the Convention on the Grant of European Patents which entered into force in December 2007, that is, the European Patent Convention 2000. The amendments are also due to the considerable growth of the number of applications for registration of a utility model, that is, an invention susceptible of industrial application in recent years. As another important amendment, a new type of licence, “the licence of right” is introduced in the field of legal protection of industrial property in Estonia. The principle of this type of licence is that the owner of a utility model who does not wish to use his or her invention or is unable to do so due to lack of means or another reason can permit anyone who is interested to use the invention for a certain licence fee. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2012.

The Resolution “Approval of the Consolidated Report of 2010 of the State” (91 OE), submitted by the Government, was passed with 55 votes in favour. The aim of submitting the annual report of the state is to enable the Riigikogu to exercise its auditing function with regard to the Government, provide the Government with the opportunity to explain its activities during the accounting year, and submit the information necessary for the Riigikogu to make new resolutions regarding the budget. The consolidated annual report consists of the following parts:
1)         the management report;
2)         the annual accounts;
2.1)      the consolidated and the unconsolidated annual accounts of the state;
2.2)      additional information concerning local governments;
2.3)      additional information concerning public sector and government sector.
The consolidated report includes the audit report of the National Audit Office.
One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Resolution and 2 members abstained.
 
The Act on Ratification of the Instruments of Amendment of 2010 of the Constitution and the Convention of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (60 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 62 votes in favour. The purpose of ratification of the instruments of amendment of the Constitution and the Convention of the ITU is to enforce in the Republic of Estonia the amendments to the Constitution and the Convention of the ITU, signed on 22 October 2010. The amendments concern the finances of the ITU and contributions. The amendments contained in the act enter into force as a whole and as a single act on 1 January 2012 with regard to member states who are parties to the Constitution and the Convention of the ITU at that time.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill 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 concluded. The aim of the Bill is to ratify 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 and to create opportunities to implement it. 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 Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill 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 concluded. 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 Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the State Budget of 2011 Act (114 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to amend the budgets of constitutional institutions, the State Chancellery and ministries. The major amendments concern 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 funds are provided for covering the repair and maintenance expenses of rescue vehicles and for mitigating the fuel price rise. 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 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, was concluded. The aim of the Bill 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. The motion made by the Estonian Centre Party Faction to reject this Bill at the first reading was not supported. 50 members of the Riigikogu voted against the motion and 30 members voted in favour, 1 abstained. Thus, the Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Gambling Act and Other Associated Acts (88 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill specifies different provisions of the Gambling Act which concern mainly the technical requirements of organising gambling games. It amends the procedure for reporting and the provisions concerning the relations between supervisory authorities and organisers which aim to enhance the supervision exercised over the organisation of gambling, to make it more efficient and to reduce the administrative burden where possible. The implementing provisions of the Bill amend the Register of Economic Activities Act, the Advertising Act, the Media Services Act, and the Rehabilitation Bill and the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Customs Act (84 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to enhance the customs control, to regulate more specifically the establishment of free zones and to simplify the transfer of confiscated cultural valuables. The legal basis for the use of the automatic control equipment for customs is established and the use of X-ray equipment upon examination of goods is regulated. The Tax and Customs Board has introduced the automatic system for detection of registration numbers and designators of the means of road and rail transport and marine containers on the external border. The photo recording equipment takes a picture of the registration plate of the vehicle passing through the border inspection post. The system detects the registration number of the vehicle and notifies of a vehicle that has been selected as “a vehicle of heightened risk” on the basis of the risk analysis. By now, photo recording equipment has been installed in the customs control zone in Narva, Luhamaa and Koidula border inspection posts where the Tax and Customs Board has the competence to use technical means for the customs control. The Bill also extends the circle of the recipients of confiscated goods and amends the Act such that the Tax and Customs Board may transfer cultural valuables to an agency designated by the Minister of Culture. At present, only museums can be the recipients, and in certain cases museums may lack the conditions necessary for preservation of cultural valuables. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
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