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At today’s sitting, the second reading of the State Budget of 2011 Bill (822 SE) continued with voting on the motions to amend. On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill was concluded.

According to the Bill, the revenue of the state will increase by over 2%, that is, to 5.7 billion euro (89.4 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 6 billion euro (94.2 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. Of the motions to amend the budget which were submitted, the Finance Committee supported the motion to maintain the salary of higher state servants at the level of 2010 until the end of the budgetary year 2011. The proposal to increase the subsistence level rate to 76.7 euro, that is, to slightly more than 1200 kroons per month also found support. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
The Riigikogu passed with 74 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Fishing Act (798 SE), initiated by the Government. The amendments to the Fishing Act are necessary for implementation of the relevant European Union regulation. The purpose of the latter is to avoid, prevent and terminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Several amendments are related to the specification of the issues relating to the fishing gear used upon recreational fishing and the electronic issuing of the fishing card for recreational fishing. The requirements relating to the exchange of commercial fishing opportunities and the fishing fleet register, and the requirements for implementation of the electronic fishing logbook are also specified. Clause 1 4) of the Act enters into force on the day following its publication in the Riigi Teataja, clauses 1 5)‒9) and 29) enter into force on 1 January 2011.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act (802 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to improve the efficiency of tax proceedings and to reduce the administrative burden for tax authorities as well as for taxable persons. A ceiling is established for amounts of interest and, as a result of that, interests will never exceed the principal debt. At the same time, the Act is amended by adding provisions which will help the tax authority to fight tax evasions more efficiently. The part concerning the acts ensuring performance of the tax liability is amended and the opportunities to carry out an inspection are specified. 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 Value Added Tax Act (797 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the amendments is to transpose the amendments to the Council of the European Union directive and to provide the special procedure for cash basis value added tax accounting in the Value Added Tax Act on the basis of the Council of the European Union decision. The amendments to this value added tax directive concern determining of the location of turnover of the natural gas and electricity and heating and cooling energy. The option of the special procedure for cash basis value added tax accounting is extended to all persons liable to value added tax whose annual turnover does not exceed 200 000 euro. According to the Act which is currently in force, only sole proprietors have the right to opt for the special procedure for cash basis value added tax accounting. In order to prevent tax evasions, an obligation to apply reverse charge mechanism in case of immovables and metal waste is provided. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Broadcasting Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Law of Obligations Act (656 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to create legal provisions for persons who process data for journalistic purposes and who therefore have the right to rely on the protection of sources. The purpose of regulating the institution of the protection of sources is to ensure for persons who process data for journalistic purposes the right to refuse to give testimony in the course of court proceedings. An obligation to not to disclose the identity of the person who provided information if the person so wishes is established outside of court proceedings. In other cases outside of court proceedings, the persons who process data for journalistic purposes have the right to disclose the person who provided information. The national standardisation of the relevant guarantee helps ensure other principles characteristic of the freedom of the press, such as the freedom of investigation, and the independence of the press and the protection of the investigative journalism. On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, an amendment was added to the Bill which specifies application of the preventive function of the compensation of damage and provides the application thereof only within the context of causing non-patrimonial damage. The court is granted the right to take into consideration the preventive function of the compensation of damage separately only in the case of such personality rights violations as are aimed against the honour, name and image and the inviolability of private life of a person. The Estonian Green Party Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 21 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 44 members voted against and 2 members abstained. Thus, the motion was not supported and the Bill was sent to the third reading.
 
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Other Acts (286 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended. The purpose of the Bill is to organise the current surveillance system and to provide firm bases which allow to conduct surveillance activities which infringe the fundamental rights of the person, and to enhance the supervision exercised thereover. The Bill has been improved with contribution from the Chancellor of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Estonian Bar Association. The second reading of the Bill will continue.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 111 of the Gambling Act (857 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The purpose of the amendment is to postpone the implementation of the electronic recording and control system which was due to enter into force as of 1 January 2011 because organisers of gambling are not ready therefor, as the adoption of the euro requires additional reorganisations. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the State Funeral Benefits Act and § 15 of the Value Added Tax Act (786 SE), initiated by the Members of the Riigikogu Mai Treial, Ester Tuiksoo, Toomas Varek and Ain Seppik, was rejected at the first reading. 46 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 38 members of the Riigikogu voted against. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
Due to the end of the working hours of the sitting of the plenary assembly, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act (795 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was adjourned and it will be resumed tomorrow, on Wednesday, at the sitting beginning at 2 p.m.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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