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Riigikogu

The Riigikogu passed eight Acts and three Resolutions:
 
The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Other Acts relating to Reorganisation of the Plant Production Inspectorate, Regional Land Improvement Bureaus and the Land Improvement Bureau of Supervision and Expertise into the Board of Agriculture (470 SE), initiated by the Government, by which the board of agriculture is established as of 1 January 2010, was passed with 85 votes in favour.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Traffic Act (427 SE), initiated by the Government, which grants owners of public roads the right to restrict traffic both on the main road of the state and other roads, was passed with 80 votes in favour. This concerns primarily heavy vehicle traffic on the main highways of Estonia which, for the purposes of the Act, are owned by the Road Administration. The Act enables to use cameras upon taking of the theory test and driving test for drivers of motor vehicles. The Act also provides that if a driver works between 00.00 hours and 06.00 hours, the daily working time may not exceed ten hours in each 24 period. In comparison to the wording of the Act which is currently in force, the provision of the minimum duration of four hours regarding the work of a driver during that period, which was in conflict with the respective European Union regulation, has been omitted.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Investment Funds Act, the Insurance Activities Act, the Credit Institutions Act, the Securities Market Act and the Estonian Central Register of Securities Act (461 SE), initiated by the Government, the purpose of which is to ensure an open, transparent, competitive and economically efficient regulation at the European Union level which facilitates mergers and assumptions of the institutions of the financial sector and exercise of effective supervision over these processes, was passed with 78 votes in favour. The Act brings national law into conformity with the principles arising from the EU Directive on qualifying holdings. Thus, the supervision authority of the financial undertaking in which an acquisition is proposed is to be informed of an acquisition or increase of a holding where the thresholds of the holdings acquired are 10%, 20%, 30% and 50 %.
 
The Act on Amendments to the State Fees Act (465 SE), initiated by the Government, which concerns the cases when air operators engaged in certified commercial air transport apply for issue of the certificate of an air operator engaging in aerial works and there is no reason to impose a state fee in the established amount for reviewing of the application, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The Act provides the possibility for undertakings to pay fees annually, that is, by smaller amounts and not the whole amount as a lump sum.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Natural Gas Act and the District Heating Act (426 SE), initiated by the Government, which enables more specific information to be obtained on the formation of the price of natural gas and network services so that the bases for the formation of the price of natural gas and network services would be clear and transparent in the situation of open market, was passed with 75 votes in favour. The regulation of the approval of the price of the gas sold to household customers will also change such that only the gas undertaking in a dominant position on the market is required to obtain the approval of the Competition Board for the maximum prices of the gas sold to household customers. The remaining sellers of gas need not apply for price approval.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Structural Assistance for the Period of 2007-2013 Act (489 SE), initiated by the Government, which improves the use of structural funds and thereby facilitates the achievement of the social objectives relating to the use of the assistance and stimulating of the Estonian economy, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The Act extends the range of persons who receive payments of assistance pursuant to the simplified procedure.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Land Tax Act(459 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, the Social Democratic Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, which grants local governments the right to exempt home owners from the obligation to pay land tax, was passed with 62 votes in favour. According to the Act, the local government may exempt a person from the obligation to pay land tax on the residential land in the use of the person to the extent of 0.3 hectares in cities and 1.0 hectares in rural municipalities if the residence of the taxpayer is in a residential building located on such land according to the data on the place of residence entered in the population register and on the condition that the applicant for the tax exemption does not receive rent on the basis of the right of use of land. The Act harmonises the land tax exemption limits of home owners and pensioners which are provided by legislation such that local governments also have the right to grant land tax exemption to pensioners on the residential land in their use to the extent of 0.3 hectares in cities. The Act also grants the possibility for local governments to establish land tax rates as differentiated rates according to the categories of the intended use of cadastral units.
 
The Act on Amendments to the State Assets Act (481 SE), initiated by the Rural Affairs Committee, which provides that, upon transfer of immovables used as profit yielding land which contain areas under cultivation and parcels of natural grassland (agricultural land), the person who is using the land to be transferred on legal basis has the right of pre-emption, was passed with 85 votes in favour. This will allow current cultivators of the land to acquire the land at the price formed at public auction.
 
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Application of Stabilisation Reserve Funds” (499 OE), submitted by the Government, which enables to apply the stabilisation reserve funds in an amount of 3.5 billion kroons in order to reduce the general economic risks and to cover the gap between the revenue and expenditure of the state budget of 2009, was passed with 60 votes in favour (26 votes against).
 
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Estonian Defence Forces in the Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Composition of the 13th Rotation of the NATO Response Force” (495 OE), submitted by the Government, which allows the use of the Estonian Defence Forces with a team of up to 55 members of the Defence Forces, as necessary, in the composition of the 13th rotation of the NATO Response Force (NRF-13) from 1 July 2009 until 30 June 2010, in a military operation organised for the purpose of maintaining or restoring peace and security, as provided in the UN Charter, or in any other military operation in compliance with generally recognised practices and principles of international law, was passed with 75 votes in favour.
 
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Estonian Defence Forces in Providing Security at the Presidential Elections in Afghanistan” (496 OE), submitted by the Government, which allows the use of the Estonian Defence Forces in providing security at the presidential elections in Afghanistan in the period from 1 July to 1 December 2009, was passed with 61 votes in favour (8 votes against). Estonia will participate in the security operation within the framework of the peacekeeping mission led by NATO (International Security Assistance Force – ISAF). The Resolution allows the use of staff of up to 140 members of the Defence Forces.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of five Bills:
 
The Second Supplementary State Budget of the Year 2009 Bill (510 SE), initiated by the Government, provides additional decrease of the state budget revenue by 4.29 billion kroons and decrease of expenditure by 2.81 billion kroons. A debate was held. Thereafter, the Riigikogu reviewed and voted on 58 motions to amend. As a result of the voting, the amendments which had been proposed to be covered by reduction of the amounts of parental benefit were omitted. The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 39 votes in favour, 51 against. The Bill was sent to the third reading which is scheduled for 17 June.
 
The Ports Bill (393 SE), initiated by the Government;
 
the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code, the Public Service Act, the Aliens Act, the Local Government Council Election Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure (416 SE), initiated by the Government;
 
the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Imprisonment Act (382 SE), initiated by the Government;
 
the Bill on Amendments to the Electronic Communications Act (424 SE), initiated by the Government.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of four Bills:
 
the Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and Associated Acts (518 SE), initiated by the Government, the purpose of which is to ensure sustainability of the unemployment insurance fund. The amendments in the benefits schemes are intended for reducing the burden on the assets of the unemployment insurance fund. The Bill concerns the amendments in the regulation of unemployment insurance which are due to enter into force on 1 July. Amendments are made in the substitution rates of the unemployment insurance benefit in case of unemployment and in the entry into force of the unemployment insurance benefit of the insured persons who terminate the employment or service relationship on own initiative or by agreement of the parties. The Bill suspends payment of the unemployment insurance benefit to people who cease employment on own initiative or by agreement of the parties until 2013. In comparison to the provisions of the Act passed on 17 December 2008, the unemployment insurance benefit will be reduced to 50 per cent instead of the current 70 per cent in the first hundred days and to 40 per cent instead of the current 50 per cent starting from the 101st day until the 360th day. The Social Democratic Party Faction and the Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 38 votes in favour, 50 against.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act (505 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee, provides the possibility of compensating the costs related to the use of housing also to persons who are renting an apartment on the basis of a contract of loan for use.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act (502 SE), initiated by the Government.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Public and National Holidays Act (509 SE), initiated by the Government.
 
Thirteen Bills were withdrawn from the legislative proceeding:
 
The Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction as initiators withdrew from the legislative proceeding the Bill on Amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act (512 SE).
 
The Government as the initiator withdrew from the legislative proceeding the Bill on Amendments to the Names Act and the State Fees Act (464 SE) and the Bill on Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the United States of America for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (480 SE); the Bill on Amendments to the Universities Act, the Research and Development Organisation Act, the National Library of Estonia Act, the Private Schools Act and the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act (493 SE); the Bill on Amendments to the Vocational Educational Institutions Act and the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act (490 SE); the Bill on Amendments to the Defence Forces Service Act and Other Acts (486 SE); the Bill on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and to Other Acts, related to Merger of the Health Care Board, the Health Protection Inspectorate and the Chemicals Notification Centre into the Health Board (501 SE); the Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act (508 SE); the Public Service Bill (484 SE); the Bill on Amendments to the Anti-corruption Act (494 SE).
 
The Estonian Green Party Faction as the initiator withdrew from the legislative proceeding the Bill on Amendments to the Research and Development Organisation Act (76 SE), the Bill on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act (503 SE) and the Bill on Amendments to § 23 of the Forest Act (504 SE).
 
At Question Time, the Minister of Social Affairs Hanno Pevkur answered the question about social policy, submitted by Marika Tuus, the question about social insurance, submitted by Mai Treial, the question about the extraordinary pension fund, submitted by Inara Luigas, and the question about a social campaign, submitted by Kadri Simson. The Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder answered the question about agricultural policy, submitted by Arvo Sarapuu.
 
The sitting ended at 5.21 a.m.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
 
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