On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Election Act and Other Acts (186 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The Bill specifies the organisation of electronic voting in elections. As major amendments, the Bill provides the formation of a separate electronic voting committee, the period for electronic voting and the advance polls in polling divisions will be equal, the auditing of the e-voting system is provided at the level of an Act and a voter will be given the opportunity to check if the electronic vote given by him or her is correctly forwarded to the system (will be implemented as of 2015). The Bill also provides the competence of the National Electoral Committee in the event of suspension or termination of or failure to commence electronic voting. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of this Bill. 63 members of the Riigikogu voted against the motion and 17 members voted in favour. Thus, the motion to suspend was not supported and the Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Other Acts (241 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill provides transition to the sectoral functioning model in the Tax and Customs Board whereby a single uniform service area will be established instead of four administrative service areas. The initiator stated that sectoral management allows for more flexibility in the distribution of tasks in view of the actual workload, experience and competence of officials regardless of in which city the official is located. The transition to the new functioning model is also motivated by changes in customer behaviour due to the year by year increase in the volume of e-services and in the number of users of e-services which has brought down the number of visits to customer service centres. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Public Information Act (263 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The bill is intended to address the infringements in the legal order of Estonia indicated by the European Commission. In the opinion of the European Commission, in Estonia, the rights related to the re-use of public information are not guaranteed or the solutions laid down in law are not specified with sufficient legal clarity. The purpose of the Bill is to provide more clearly the rules on the re-use of public sector information in the legal order of Estonia and to thereby stimulate the creation of new products and services by the private sector. According to the Bill, holders of information may not establish exclusive arrangements for re-use of information unless it is justified in the public interest. The validity of the reason for granting such an exclusive right shall be reviewed every three years. The aim of the provision is to regulate a situation where the monopoly of holding of information and release of information has been transferred to a third person who is not a holder of information. The Act is intended to create a situation where the re-use of documents would be open to all potential actors in the market, even if one or more market players already exploit added-value products based on these documents. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Planning Act (247 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the proposed amendments is to enhance and accelerate the processing of the county plans of line constructions passing through several local governments and to contribute to the establishment of infrastructures necessary in the public interest and to the creation of general legal clarity in this area. The Bill releases local governments from the obligation to transfer immovables occupied by buildings, as provided for in the Planning Act, and provides that, if a need to transfer appears, then either an agreement is entered into under the Law of Obligation Act, or the Immovables Expropriation Act is applied. This will help prevent the situations where local governments refuse to concert such plans and to enter the location of a line construction in the comprehensive plan because this may bring along a situation where a local government will have to unjustifiably transfer an immovable while the obligation to transfer should in fact lie with the person interested in the construction of the line construction planned by the plan. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Ambient Air Protection Act and the Liquid Fuel Act (267 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to bring the Act into conformity with European Union law. The general objective of the directive transposed is to improve the ambient air quality by the implementation of various measures and the establishment of requirements; the most attention is paid to the reduction of fuel life cycle greenhouse gas emissions. An additional objective of the directive is to regulate and promote the functioning of the fuel market, paying great attention to the production of biofuels in a sustainable manner. The Bill also provides the establishment of a fuel monitoring database which will enable to bring the already functioning fuel monitoring database into conformity with the Public Information Act. The fuel monitoring database is a database belonging to the state information system in which fuel monitoring data are consolidated and published. With the help of the database, consumers can obtain information on the quality of the fuel sold at petrol stations which enables consumers to make an informed choice when buying fuel. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (268 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. According to the Bill, in the period 2013 ‒ 2016, alcohol excise duty rates will be raised by 5% annually with the aim of increasing the state budget revenue. According to the explanation of the initiator, with the 5% increase of alcohol excise duty rates, for example, the price of beer (1 litre, 5% vol) will rise from 1.8 euro to an estimated 1.82 euro, the price of wine (0.7 litres) will rise from 7 euro to 7.04 euro, and the price of vodka (1 litre, 40% vol) will rise from 12 euro to approximately 12.36 euro next year. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act and the Taxation Act (236 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to establish a state study allowance for students which supports students in a less favourable economic situation in access to the higher education, their success in studies and completion the study programme in the nominal period. With the Bill, provisions concerning the needs-based study allowance are added to the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act, and in this connection the Taxation Act is amended. According to the Bill, a student whose average income per family member remains below the relative poverty threshold has the right to receive the needs-based study allowance, and a student is considered a family with his or her parents until the age of 26. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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