The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia Act (47 SE), initiated by the President of the Republic, was concluded. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves as the presenter of the Bill introduced the amendments which would be made to the Constitution with the Bill. After the amendments are passed the Constitution will not include any references to the Commander or Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. The amendments will also specify the competence of constitutional institutions regarding national defence: the executive power – the Government and the Minister of Defence – will regulate national defence and will be responsible for its functioning; the Riigikogu will make the most important decisions regarding the national defence, will establish the acts regulating the national defence and exercise supervision over the Government’s activity in the field of national defence; and the President, as the highest leader of the national defence, has, first and foremost, a symbolic and ceremonial, but also a balancing role, exercising his or her general political organising right only in cases when it is specifically fixed by the Constitution. The status of the Commander of the Defence Forces and the procedure for his or her appointment to office will be brought into conformity with the procedure of governance of the parliamentary state wherein the Defence Forces may be subordinated only to the Government. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
President of the Eesti Pank Andrus Lipstok gave an overview of the activities of the Eesti Pank in 2006. Mr. Lipstok said that the primary task of the Eesti Pank was to ensure the price stability in Estonia, which would create conditions for a long-time economic growth. He stressed that the price stability was guaranteed by the bank through the fixed exchange rate. The real income in Estonia is about 70 percent of the average of the European Union, but the prices of goods and services are also 65 percent lower than in the European Union. Therefore the average inflation in Estonia has remained at 3.5 to 4 percent during the last six years. The President of the Eesti Pank declared that the administration of the Estonian foreign reserves was an integral part of ensuring the stability of the kroon. In 2006 the Eesti Pank received more income from investment business than was expected and the amount of convertible foreign assets was EEK 33.17 billion at the end of 2006, and the profitability of the investment income of foreign assets was around.2.5 percent. Mr. Lipstok also highlighted the problems of supporting the reliability and stability of banking. In 2006 Estonia has fully transposed the new Directive of the European Union on calculating adequacy of capital which will be implemented in Estonian banks from the beginning of the next year. Mr. Lipstok affirmed that the Estonian financial system stayed strong and reliable all through last year.
The Chairman of the Management Board of the Financial Supervision Authority Raul Malmstein gave an overview of the 2006 report of the Financial Supervision Authority to the Riigikogu. The overview included the development of the financial market from the supervisory viewpoint. Housing loans increased by 63 percent in 2006, the annual growth of consumption loans was 94 percent, the volume of loans as of the end of 2006 exceeded the volume of deposits 1.4 times. Mr. Malmstein said that the important priority of the Financial Supervision Authority in 2006 and the aim of the coming years was to raise the awareness of the consumers of financial services and educate them. In order to guarantee the reliability of the Estonian financial sector the Financial Supervision Authority has paid increasing attention to the activities preventing money laundering. Mr. Malmstein also drew attention to the fields which await relevant resolutions of the Riigikogu in the near future.
The second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Earth’s Crust Act (20 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, Estonian People’s Union Faction and Estonian Green Party Faction, was concluded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Environment Committee as the leading committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Waste Act (45 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee as the leading committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Restrictions on Acquisitions of Immovables Act (27 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was concluded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee as the leading committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Parental Benefits Act (44 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was concluded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee as the leading committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 321 of the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (9 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was concluded. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee as the leading committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol Act (4 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 41 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 33 against the Act, nobody abstained. The Bill was withdrawn from legislative proceeding.
The Estonian Centre Party Faction as the initiator withdrew the Maintenance of Law and Order Bill (5 SE), from legislative proceeding.
See the verbatim record (in Estonian): http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno
The Riigikogu Press Service
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