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The Riigikogu passed 12 Acts:
 
The Act on Amendments to the Alimony Act, the State Legal Aid Act and the Code of Civil Procedure (917 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 79 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to bring Estonian national law into conformity with the Council of the European Union Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations. The purpose of the Regulation is to determine the law applicable to maintenance obligations in cases of transnational disputes. It also determines with which national court the action should be filed and how a decision given in a Member State can be enforced in other Member States.
 
The Archives Act (854 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 78 votes in favour (1 against). The Act creates the optimum legal conditions for ensuring long-term preservation of digital documents upon transition to digital document and archives management. The Act reduces the term for transfer of records to ten years (instead of the current twenty) as of the creation of a document because factors influencing the preservation of digital information, in particular the rapid antiquation of hardware and software (incl. file formats being discarded from use and IT-systems being replaced), take place about every ten or fifteen years. The transfer of documents of archival value from agencies performing public duties to the National Archives within ten years at the latest will enable to manage the related risks and to apply digital archival methods for ensuring long-term preservation and usability of records in one particular centre of excellence.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Code of Enforcement Procedure and Other Acts (763 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 77 votes in favour. The Act replaces the current possibility of imposing a fine by a court with the regulation of a penalty payment imposed by a bailiff. In the event of seizure of an account or a claim, the existing or any future bank account or a claim of the debtor will remain seized until the claim is satisfied. Opportunities to withhold amounts from the income of the debtor to fulfil a claim for child maintenance support are broadened. The Act specifies the provisions concerning the expiry of the limitation period for the enforcement of a pecuniary punishment or a fine to the extent of assets imposed for a criminal offence.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Other Acts (286 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 70 votes in favour (5 against). The Act reorganises the pre-trial procedure and judicial proceedings, as well as the procedure for the enforcement of decisions made in criminal matters; it also provides a firm basis and procedure for conducting surveillance activities which infringe the fundamental rights of a person, and for enhancing the supervision exercised thereover.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Chancellor of Justice Act (915 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, was adopted with 80 votes in favour. The Act assigns to the Chancellor of Justice the additional duties of children’s ombudsman according to Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Chancellor of Justice is authorised to investigate any situation of violation of children’s rights and conduct any related inquiries; prepare and publicise opinions, recommendations and reports on any matter relating to the promotion and protection of children’s rights; promote harmonisation of national legislation, regulations and practices with the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and perform other functions relating to children’s rights.
 
The Penal Code Amendment Act (862 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, was adopted with 78 votes in favour. The Act introduces into penal law the amendments concerning environmental crimes that proceed from the European Union law.
 
The Punishment Register Act (762 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 78 votes in favour. The Act creates the legal basis for transferring the existing punishment register from the area of government of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under the Ministry of Justice. The punishment register is a state information system database that contains data on the persons punished and on their punishments. According to the Act, everyone has the right to receive relevant data from the register, unless otherwise provided by law, and the Government of the Republic, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, police authorities, the Prosecutor’s Office, the prison service, employers and other entitled persons and agencies have the right to receive data from the archives of the register. Data concerning the punishment of a person is entered in the register when the criminal conviction has entered into force; when a decision of an extra-judicial body or a court judgment on the imposition of punishment in a misdemeanour matter has entered into force, with the exception of a decision of an extra-judicial body in warning proceedings; when a court has ordered coercive psychiatric treatment of a person; when a court has ruled on the application of a sanction with regard to a person younger than 18 years of age; and in other cases. According to the Act, persons entered in the punishment register are disclosed from 50 fine units (EUR 200) upwards.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Public and National Holidays Act (914 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Mart Nutt, Toivo Tootsen, Toomas Trapido, Maret Merisaar, Trivimi Velliste, Mart Jüssi, Peeter Tulviste, Urmas Klaas, Enn Eesmaa, Ivi Eenmaa, Marko Mihkelson and Mari-Ann Kelam, was adopted with 80 votes in favour. According to the Act, the Kindred Peoples’ Day will be celebrated as a national holiday on the third Saturday of October. The aim of the Kindred Peoples’ Day is to increase awareness about Estonians belonging to the family of Finno-Ugric nations, to value our origins, our mother tongue and our cultural heritage. The Kindred Peoples’ Day would be a day celebrating our unique linguistic and cultural identity, the national indigenous culture of Estonia, as well as a day to think of other Finno-Ugric nations, to promote their languages and cultures and to speak about their problems.  
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act (900 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 77 votes in favour. The Act transposes into national law the directive of the Council of the European Union on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment. The directive establishes the European Union Blue Card system which allows to engage in highly qualified employment and to move to a second Member State for the same purposes. In addition, the directive creates more favourable conditions for family reunification of highly qualified third-country workers.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Public Health Act and Associated Acts (906 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 77 votes in favour. The Act establishes in the Public Health Act a separate chapter concerning databases related to the health of the population, which provides the legal bases for the cancer register, the medical birth register, the myocardial infarction register, the tuberculosis register and the water safety information system. At present, the cancer register, the medical birth register and the tuberculosis register are maintained at the National Institute for Health Development and the myocardial infarction register is maintained at Tartu University Hospital. The water safety information system is a new information system which will be created at the Health Board and which will collect data concerning operators of drinking water, natural mineral water and spring water, the water supply and the quality of drinking water, holders of swimming pools and recreational swimming pools and the quality of pool water and bathing water. The Act establishes the correct legal basis for databases operating in the public health sector.
 
The Spatial Information Act (890 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 77 votes in favour. The Act ensures the transposition of the relevant European Parliament and Council directive into Estonian law and creates legal bases for the development of the Estonian infrastructure for spatial information, which would be in compliance with the European Union infrastructure for spatial information. For the purposes of this Act, “spatial data” means any data with a direct or indirect reference to a specific location or geographical area, including data held in databases, describing the location, characteristics and form of spatial objects in geographical space. The Act provides the requirements concerning spatial data sets and services for making them available and sharing them, the conditions for managing the geodetic system and the address data system and for collecting and granting the use of topographic data, for coordinating the development of the infrastructure for spatial information and reporting, the state supervision over the establishment of geographical addresses and the liability for violation of the requirements for protecting a geodetic mark.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act and Associated Acts (922 SE), initiated by the Government, was adopted with 78 votes in favour. The Act brings the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act into conformity with the requirements laid down in the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. These concern the health regulations on animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption.
 
The Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar, Chairman of the Board of AS Saidafarm Juhan Särgava, member of the Estonian Centre Party Faction Arvo Sarapuu and economic expert at the Estonian Development Fund Heido Vitsur made their presentations at the deliberation of the matter of significant national importance The impact of increasing prices on the subsistence of people.
 
Savisaar was critical of Estonia’s economic development of recent years and its connection with the rise in prices. He discussed problems connected to the national tax policy and gave his opinion on the matter. In Savisaar’s opinion, the economic indicators should be assessed in full consideration of the context and their interrelations. Only a comprehensive approach can give us a realistic image of the big picture and by viewing the various economic indicators together we will avoid erroneous conclusions, Savisaar said. He recommended to include in any analysis of the rising prices in Estonia the relationship between the consumer price index and the change in the GDP, which should be viewed in long-term perspective.
 
Särgava discussed the problems of prices in relation to agricultural production and analysed the factors that go into price shaping. According to Särgava, farmers must raise their prices or they could not cover their costs. At the same time, he admitted that overpriced products remain unsold. Särgava listed quality and product range as factors that increase prices, advertising and a better market as helping factors, and a newer machinery as a way to help lower the costs. Yet all this requires support from the state and the local government.
 
Sarapuu analysed the facts relating to increasing prices on the global scale and linked these to the Estonian situation. He thinks that the government can influence the rise in prices through fiscal policy and he sees one opportunity through lowering the VAT and the excise duties.
 
Vitsur emphasised the importance of keeping a close eye on the rise in prices. In his opinion, Estonia cannot withstand the rise much longer. Estonian economy may suffer because of the decreased volume of investments and this would lower our competitiveness. In Vitsur’s opinion, Estonia is in one way or another in a situation where we must think about our actions in the context of rising global prices, increasing cost of living, ongoing convergence and without having much production that would give us more added value. According to Vitsur, if the added value of our exports is low, the majority of the export is used to buy in the commodities that we need for everyday use. He thinks that it is difficult to acquire the kind of superfluous assets that could be invested or used as a foundation for a new economic growth. Vitsur noted that the main problem of entrepreneurs is how to receive credit and money for new developments. This is the key issue. If we are unable to earn it ourselves or if we cannot create an environment where businesses can borrow money from, this situation of increasing prices and salaries is very difficult to overcome, Vitsur explained.
 
Marek Strandberg, Urmas Reinsalu, Mai Treial, Urmas Klaas and Arvo Sarapuu took the floor during debate.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Climate and Energy Agency Bill (926 SE), initiated by the Estonian Green Party Faction. The purpose of the Bill is to convert the Climate and Energy Agency, currently functioning as a centre of excellence, into an independent legal person in public law.
 
The sitting ended at 1.05 p.m.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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