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At today’s sitting of the Riigikogu, the Bill on Amendments to the Riigi Teataja Act (659 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will release ministries from the obligation to draw up consolidated texts of the Regulations of ministers published in the Riigi Teataja.

The function will be transferred to the publisher of the Riigi Teataja, that is, the Riigi Teataja Division of the Ministry of Justice. The amendment will allow to optimise the organisation of work of ministries. The publisher of the Riigi Teataja has the competence and technical possibilities to draw up and submit consolidated texts for publication. An additional post is planned to be established at the Ministry of Justice. The necessary resource will be covered from the funds of the Ministry of Justice and other ministries

At present, the publisher of the Riigi Teataja preserves on paper all original texts of acts submitted for publication (except for regulations of local authorities) which is however not expedient. According to the Bill, the preservation of the paper print-outs of the original texts published in the Riigi Teataja will be abandoned, except in the case of Acts as the most important legal acts. All original texts submitted for publication will be digitally preserved in the Riigi Teataja information system.

According to the Bill, ministries will transfer the drawing up of consolidated texts to the Ministry of Justice as of 1 January 2019.

Six more Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (657 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee, is to make access to special welfare services supporting the subsistence and quality of life of the persons with special psychological needs quicker and clearer for both the users and the organisers of the services. Also, a uniform system of organisation for referral to services and provision of services will be created. The Bill is intended to ensure that adults with a mental disorder in need of assistance receive the assistance corresponding to their actual need for support, in order to prevent a worsening of the person’s subsistence and quality of life. The aim of the Bill is to ensure provision of a needs-based and flexible special welfare service. For that, the assessment of the need for a special welfare service and the counselling of persons will be brought to the Social Insurance Board.

The Personal Data Protection Bill (679 SE), initiated by the Government.

Starting from 25 May 2018, the relevant directly applicable EU Regulation on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data began to regulate the personal data protection law. This also necessitates a review of the national regulation that is currently in force.

So far, the Personal Data Protection Act has regulated the issues of personal data protection as the general Act. It transposed an earlier EU directive which was repealed however as of 25 May 2018. Although the General Regulation is a directly applicable EU legal act, in certain issues the Member States have been given discretionary power to specify, establish and preserve the issues relating to personal data processing provided for in the general Regulation.

Estonia’s new Personal Data Protection Act will create a general framework for personal data processing where we have the discretion arising from the EU General Regulation. The new Personal Data Protection Act will also transpose the EU directive on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing the Council Framework Decision on the law-enforcement authorities directive.

The Personal Data Protection Act Implementation Bill (650 SE), initiated by the Government.

As of 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation is in force in the European Union, and relevant amendments will have to be introduced into the Estonian Acts to implement it. The Bill will amend 130 Acts.

The Bill will update the regulations concerning databases – the purposes of processing of personal data and the compositions of data will be amended, and the period of preservation of data will also be limited. The establishment of the statutes of databases has been transferred from the Government level to the competence of ministers where possible.

At the same time, the bases for personal data processing in law-enforcement authorities and security authorities and the Defence Forces and for restricting the rights of data subjects will be harmonised with the directive concerning law-enforcement authorities. In addition, the performance of background checks on visitors and service providers on the objects guarded by the Police and Border Guard Board (e.g. Kadriorg Palace, Toompea Castle, Stenbock House, the common building for ministries, etc.) will also be regulated. In the course of such checks, with the written consent of the person, the Police and Border Guard Board will have the right to process his or her personal data for example concerning place of residence, punishments and crossings of the external border. An employee of the Police and Border Guard Board may also request additional data and talk to an employer or a representative of an educational institution if necessary.

When the Act enters into force, statutes of 81 national databases will have to be updated. The implementation of the updated personal data regulations will involve costs for the state. According to estimation, in the areas of administration of four ministries, databases need additional IT-developments to the extent of a total of 860 000 euro in connection with the functionalities of log processing system, data deletion and pseudonymisation, as well as bringing server parks into conformity with the requirements.

Jüri Adams who took the floor during the debate moved to reject the Bill on behalf of the Free Party Faction. Ten members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 45 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the first reading of the Bill was concluded. The term for submission of motions to amend is 11 October.

The Bill on Amendments to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act and Other Acts (641 SE), initiated by the Government, will specify the requirement for (obligation to submit a notice of economic activities) and restrictions on (no fees may be charged personally for employment service and mediation of temporary agency staff) providing employment service and the service of mediating temporary agency staff, set for undertakings.

The Bill will enhance supervision of compliance with the requirement for and restrictions on the provision of service, set for undertakings providing employment service and mediating temporary agency staff. Under the current Act, the Ministry of Social Affairs exercises supervision over undertakings. According to the Bill, the Labour Inspectorate will exercise state supervision of undertakings for compliance with the requirements set out in the Act.

The Bill will amend five other Acts: the Gender Equality Act, the Employment Contracts Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Work Ability Allowance Act. Amendments to six Acts have been consolidated into one Bill, because several amendments are interrelated or similar.

The Bill on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act (674 SE), initiated by the Government, will provide for the tax treatment of transactions associated with vouchers, and simplify the procedure for the declaration of VAT on import on the VAT return and the procedure for the taxation of the supply of electronic communications services and electronically supplied services in the Value-Added Tax Act.

The tax treatment of vouchers has not been harmonised at EU level so far, nor is the VAT taxation of vouchers separately regulated in Estonian law. The VAT treatment of the transactions associated with vouchers needs to be harmonised at EU level, because when there are no uniform rules, both double taxation and non-taxation occur in the case of cross-border transactions.

Mihhail Stalnuhhin from the Centre Party Faction and Tarmo Kruusimäe from the Faction Isamaa took the floor during the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (675 SE), initiated by the Government, will make tax proceedings smoother and resolve problems that have arisen in practice.

According to current law and court practice, tax arrears can be collected only from a member of the management board of a company. In the future, it will be possible to collect it from the actual manager who has caused the tax arrears to the undertaking intentionally, acting behind the cover of a member of the management board entered in the commercial register.

As the current regulation may cause confusion and unnecessary disputes in defining the type of tax inspection, the concepts of tax audit and examination of individual cases will be eliminated by merging them into a single type of tax inspection. This will involve no major fundamental changes.

Besides data on tax arrears, information on other outstanding obligations of persons that have become due and that the Board is administering will be disclosed on the website of the Tax and Customs Board in the future. They are for example penalty payments, fines and tax liabilities of third parties imposed by a tax authority. At present, tax arrears in the amount of 10 euro are disclosed; in the future, tax arrears together with possible accessory obligations starting from 100 euro will be disclosed.

To make the work of the tax authority more efficient and in the interests of faster service of taxable persons, the possibility for the tax authority to issue certain administrative acts automatically will be provided for in the Act. The tax authority will perform inspection and will have the possibility to intervene as necessary. Official titles of employees, and the place of performance and extent of work will be entered into the employment register besides other data. The data are necessary for Statistics Estonia for collecting official statistics.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
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