The Riigikogu passed with 43 votes in favour (25 against) the Act on Amendments to § 167 of the Defence Forces Service Act (60 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The Act clarifies the payment of conscript benefit. Pursuant to the Act, the conscripts will no longer receive a single benefit payment in the amount of two weeks’ average gross salary at the termination of their military service. They will, however, retain the monthly benefit, which as of 1 January of this year amounts from EEK 2,000 to EEK 4,000, depending on their rank, office and length of service. Previously, conscripts received a monthly benefit amounting to only from EEK 160 to EEK 1,000, depending on the length of their service, office and rank, and also received a benefit in the amount of two weeks’ average gross salary at the termination of their military service.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of two Bills:
Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act and Wages Act (42 SE), which proceeds from the need to bring the Act into conformity with the new European Union legislation aimed at improving traffic safety and social guarantees to motorists, as well as ensuring equal competition between carriers. Among other things, the amendments stipulate a fine of up to EEK 12,000 for a violation of daily driving and rest time rules.
The Bill on Amendments to the Motor Third Party Liability Insurance Act, Insurance Activities Act and Traffic Act (48 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The Act introduces the amendments proceeding from the directives of the European Parliament and the Council directives into the Acts in force. The most prominent change is the increase of the limits of compensation to 1 million euros in case of property damage, and 5 million euros in case of personal injury per insured event, regardless of the number of injured parties. Pursuant to the Bill, policies no longer need to be carried around or presented on paper. The cover will be checked via motor third party liability insurance register.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills:
Bill on the Ratification of the Agreement on Working Holidays between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of New Zealand (73 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. Pursuant to the Agreement, Estonia and New Zealand may issue multiple working holiday visas to each other’s citizens of 18 to 30 years of age for up to 12 months.
The Bill on Amendments to § 21 of the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act (70 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction. The Bill specifies which public service officials do not enjoy the right to strike, thus permitting striking for those not on the list. According to the compilers, the field of application of the strike ban is presently unjustifiably large, banning striking in all government agencies and other state bodies and local governments.
The Riigikogu rejected two Bills at the first reading:
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Riigikogu rejected the Bill on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act (25 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction. The objective of the Bill was to increase child care allowance for a child of up to 3 years of age from the present EEK 600 to EEK 3,000. The result of voting: 44 votes in favour, 31 against.
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Riigikogu rejected the Bill on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act (36 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction. The objective of the Bill was to increase birth allowance and adoption allowance from the present EEK 5,000 to EEK 10,000 for every child born or adopted. The result of voting: 37 votes in favour, 30 against.
At the Question Time, Marek Strandberg asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet a question about carrying out the seabed studies necessary for the installation of the Nord Stream sub-sea gas pipeline.
Mr Paet explained that the Government will discuss the response to the research permit application tomorrow and will hopefully arrive at a decision. The Minister of Foreign Affairs made a reference to the Espoo Convention on the environment, particularly the Baltic Sea marine environment. One of the principles of the Convention says that every aspect of all possible environmental impacts and risks must be studied before something is built under the Baltic Sea. This includes consideration of all other options. „We do not approve of the plan to build this pipeline in the Baltic Sea; we prefer continental alternatives. Since every application and project has been submitted, it would be advisable to carry out all environmental studies,” Mr Paet said. „In the hypothetical case where these researches are carried out in the Estonian economic zone, one of the unequivocal conditions is that Estonian specialists and researchers must always be present, also on research vessels. Another condition is that all the results are forwarded to Estonia,” Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined.
Urmas Paet also answered the question of Jaanus Marrandi on the Baltic Sea gas pipeline and its influence on foreign policy and the question of Maret Merisaar on Estonia’s representation in the European Parliament. Minister of Finance Ivari Padar answered the question of Mai Treial on social benefits. Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo answered the question of Vahur Lahtvee on the personal hygiene of conscripts. In addition to topics registered in advance, the Ministers also answered questions asked on spot.
The verbatim record of the Riigikogu sitting (in Estonian) can be found at: http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno
The Riigikogu Press Service
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