At today's Riigikogu sitting, the Government submitted the declaration to the effect that three Bills initiated by the Government be a matter of confidence. They are the Bill on Amendments to the Social Tax Act, the Income Tax Act and Other Acts (41 SE), the Bill on Amendments to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act and Other Acts (40 SE) and the Bill on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (38 SE).
The Government applied for convention of an additional sitting of the Riigikogu for further proceeding of these Bills on Monday, 15 June at 11 a.m. The President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor made the relevant decision on the convention of the sitting.
The Riigikogu approved with 56 votes in favour (1 against, 5 abstentions) the Insurance Activities Act (8 SE), initiated by the Government, which regulates insurance activities and insurance mediation. The Act ensures that the insurers established in Estonia are solvent, sustainable, well-managed and transparent in their activities, and the supervision mechanisms applied help protect the interests of customer The new Act will ensure a more even level of the insurance intermediary service and acting based on clients’ interests. The Act specifies the contents of the mandatory information that the insurance intermediary has to disclose to the customer prior to the conclusion of an insurance contract. Prior to the provision of the service, the insurance intermediary will have to disclose its precise role – whether it is an insurer or the representative of the customer. In the intermediation of insurance contracts, also the persons for whom the intermediation of insurance contracts is not the main business, e.g. travel undertakings, will have to disclose more information both about themselves and the insurance contract intermediated. The creation of the new Act was motivated by the EU insurance supervision reform. The changes to be made in the field of insurance are partly similar to the rules already adopted in the banking sector earlier.
The representatives of factions Tarmo Tamm and Andres Ammas who took the floor during the debate highlighted the problems that will have to be solved in connection with implementation of the Act.
The Minister of Culture Indrek Saar presented the report on the implementation of “The Fundamentals of the Cultural Policy until 2020” in 2014.
Saar gave a detailed survey of the problems related to various areas of culture. First, the Minister quoted the first principle of the“The Fundamentals of the Cultural Policy until 2020” that is important in his opinion and that definitely needs always to be borne in mind when assessing cultural policy. “The state creates opportunities for the development and the enhancement of the availability of culture both for creators of culture and those partaking in it. All residents of Estonia must be guaranteed an opportunity to create culture and to partake in it, regardless of their regional, social, cultural, ethnic, age, gender or other individual characteristics and needs,” Saar noted. The Minister of Culture pointed out issues related to the development of spheres of culture as well as the social problems of the people working in this sector.
The report emphasises that, in the implementation of cultural policy, statistics are collected systematically on all spheres of culture, studies are conducted and research is promoted under the leadership of the state for making argumented decisions and assessing the impact of the decisions. The financing of culture is transparent, it is based primarily on the content of the activities and not the form of ownership. The state concludes framework agreements of up to three years in case of important cultural events and activities in order to ensure sustainable development of the cultural initiatives and organisations that have proved themselves. The supports of the Ministry of Culture are generally given through public application rounds. In addition to the other state budget funds, culture is financed through the public law Cultural Endowment of Estonia. The fundamental principles of the cultural endowment, namely the formation of the budget pursuant to the procedure provided for in the Act, and independent endowments and expert groups consisting of sectoral experts, will not be changed. The Cultural Endowment supports primarily creative persons and project-based initiatives, and the main activities of state budgetary agencies and long-term activities of national cultural importance are financed through the budget of the Ministry of Culture. Last year, communication between the Cultural Endowment and the Ministry of Culture was improved in order to ensure that the money asked from the application rounds of the Ministry and the expert groups of the endowment is used as effectively and purposefully as possible.
The representatives of factions Hardi Volmer, Krista Aru, Rein Ratas and Laine Randjärv who took the floor during the debate stressed the importance of cooperation in the implementation of cultural policy.
The Riigikogu approved with 83 votes in favour (2 against) the Act on the Accession to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency and the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the European Space Agency concerning the Accession of Estonia to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency, and the Ratification of the European Cooperating State Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the European Space Agency, and the Repeal of the Act on the Ratification of the European Cooperating State Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the European Space Agency (39 SE), initiated by the Government.
The Act provides for Estonia’s accession to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency (ESA). Membership in the ESA benefits businesses and research and development institutions alike, through directed procurements of the ESA as well as by winning public calls for tenders by the ESA. In addition to the direct benefits, participation in the activities of the ESA improves the visibility of businesses at the international level, and allows businesses to move upwards in the value chain, integrate into important supply chains, and introduce space applications into terrestrial economy.
Accession to the ESA will mean an obligation for Estonia to contribute to its budget but it will also bring about the possibility for Estonian enterprises to participate in ESA procurements. A single special payment of EUR 600,000 will have to be made, to which an annual contribution of EUR 870,000 will be added. The Agency will use EUR 500,000 of this during the transition period (2016–2022) for directed procurements from Estonian businesses and research and development institutions. EUR 260,000 will go towards the overall expenses of the ESA and EUR 50,000 towards the upkeep of the infrastructure necessary for launching launchers. The remaining EUR 60,000 will be for Estonian businesses and research and development institutions for making offers within the obligatory research programmes of the ESA.
Erki Savisaar and Imre Sooäär took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Investment Funds Act (15 SE). The Bill will allow the funds of pension funds to be invested in unquoted securities to the extent of up to 30 percent instead of the current 10 percent. Also, as a result of the amendment, pension funds will be allowed to acquire a holding of over 10 percent and controlling holdings in enterprises. Under the current Act, a pension fund may not own more than 10 per cent of the shares of an enterprise. The funds of pension funds are one of the important sources of long-term capital. The availability of capital increases employment, productivity and innovation.
The Bill on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (36 SE), initiated by the Government.
The amendments concern the fields related to regional administration and development, spatial planning and competition supervision. With the Bill, the Ministry of Agriculture will be renamed the Ministry of Rural Affairs. Implementation of the regional programmes that are related to rural development will be transferred from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Rural Affairs as of 1 January. Regional administration and development and spatial planning will be transferred from the Ministry of the Interior to the area of responsibility of the Ministry of Finance as of 1 September 2015. The shaping of the competition supervision policy and the Competition Board will be transferred from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to the Ministry of Justice as of 1 September 2015 in order to increase the independent performance of functions. A number of specifications relating to the functions of the ministries were introduced into the Bill. The Bill amends the provisions of the Planning Act and the Building Code that need to be specified before they enter into force.
Jüri Adams, Priit Toobal and Andres Herkel took the floor during the debate.
The Estonian Free Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 34 votes in favour, 54 against.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Customs Act (22 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill introduces a number of amendments in the Act. Declaration of goods of a non-commercial nature will become simpler for natural persons. According to the Bill, natural persons will be allowed to always declare goods of a non-commercial nature, that is, for personal use, with a simplified declaration regardless of the value or weight of the goods. The customs will also be given the right to verify whether goods are counterfeit. The granting of permission for the use and the procedure for revocation of TIR-carnets will be provided at the level of an Act. TIR (Transport International par Route) carnet is a customs document that facilitates customs procedures upon the crossing of state borders. The Bill will give the deciding on the issues of the uniform and insignia of customs officials to the competence of the Minister of Finance and the Director General of the Tax and Customs Board.
The Riigikogu rejected at the first reading the Bill on Amendments to § 2 of the Public Holidays and Days of National Importance Act (4 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, which had been intended to include Easter Monday among public holidays. The result of voting: 53 in favour, 32 against, 5 abstentions.
The sitting ended at 8.37 p.m.
Video recordings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
Riigikogu Press Service
Gunnar Paal, 631 6351, 5190 2837
Your feedback is important. Please share it with us!