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A Bill amending the public Transport Act, which would allow the provision of on-demand ride sourcing services, and simplification of certain requirements for taxi service, passed the first reading in the Riigikogu.

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Public Transport Act (188 SE), initiated by 26 members of the Riigikogu, is to ensure security and reliability of on-demand ride sourcing services. For that, the Bill provides for the establishment of the relevant minimum requirements for providers of on-demand ride sourcing services and for an electronic on-demand ride sourcing system. Also, in the drafting of the Bill, it has been taken into account that on-demand ride sourcing should as much as possible take place without interference from the state, and according to market conditions. In the opinion of the initiators of the Bill, the current Public Transport Act is not in conformity with the new digital services that facilitate urban mobility.

The Bill will also simplify the requirements for taxi drivers, and delegate responsibility and supervision more to the manager of taxi service. The legislative amendments planned should open the taxi service market to competition which is less weighed down by requirements which have proved extremely problematic to be met and supervised also in practice.

Applications that use mobile communications technology, geopositioning, and non-cash payments are technologies that are actively used in the carriage of passengers already in Estonia, too. At present, Uber and Taxify are the largest operators of the electronic on-demand ride sourcing system in Estonia. The initiators of the Bill note in the explanatory memorandum that, owing to the popularity and wide availability of the technological solutions used, it is necessary to update this area of public transport and to ease the current regulation which prohibits the provision of on-demand ride sourcing services.

Kalle Palling, who took the floor on behalf of the initiators of the Bill, said that, when the Act is passed, the term ‘on-demand ride sourcing’ will be introduced into the Estonian legal language. “Sharing economy gives consumers more options, creates flexible opportunities to earn additional income, promotes people to engage in micro-enterprise, and all in all improves the tax receipts of the state sector,” Palling said. He added that motions to amend would be made between the first and the second reading, and the Economic Affairs Committee was organising very broad-based inclusion which involved the whole sector.

Toomas Kivimägi, who made a report on behalf of the Economic Affairs Committee, said that the committee had found that if people who offer the sharing service earn additional money alongside their principal jobs, then it is certainly a welcome opportunity for additional income. “A separate question is how to define this ride sharer after all. And maybe a very principal question, that needs a clear position and answer, is whether to restrict the volume of the ride sharing service or not,” Kivimägi said. “In addition, the Economic Affairs Committee had a question of who will exercise supervision over the provision of this service, if it is sharing economy or on-demand ride sourcing. The Committee also discussed whether some kind of separate form of enterprise should be established for this form of enterprise, and whether we should equalise the classical taxi service and ride sharing.”

Andres Ammas, Jaanus Marrandi, Erki Savisaar, Martin Helme, Ken-Marti Vaher and Toomas Kivimägi took the floor on behalf of factions during the debate.

The Centre Party Faction and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 25 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 45 voted against, and there were 3 abstentions. The motion was not supported.

The deadline for motions to amend the Bill is 10 May.

The Riigikogu passed the Resolution on amendment of the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Riigikogu Committee of Investigation to Investigate the Possible Corruption that Occurred in the Management of Port of Tallinn Ltd and the Measures Necessary to Prevent Such Incidents in the Future” (194 OE), initiated by the committee of investigation to identify possible corruption risks in Port of Tallinn Ltd. 83 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, nobody was against and there were no abstentions.

With the Resolution, the deadline for the completion of the work of the Riigikogu committee of investigation to identify possible corruption risks in Port of Tallinn Ltd is extended until the end of the spring session, in order that the committee could ascertain, with due care, all issues posed to the committee of investigation by the Resolution of the Riigikogu, and draw the respective conclusions and make relevant proposals to the Riigikogu and the Government of the Republic.

For the performance of the tasks assigned by the Riigikogu, the committee will inevitably need to hear the former members of the management bodies of Port of Tallinn Ltd, and the ministers and state officials responsible. It will be extremely complicated to accomplish that within the time frames set for the work of the committee, because it is impossible to tighten the committee’s work schedule which is already tense as it is, without jeopardising the performance of the official duties of the committee members in other committees and the plenary assembly.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Aviation Act (161 SE), initiated by the Government, which improves the level of aviation safety and harmonises national law with relevant European Union legislation. 82 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, nobody was against, and there was one abstention.

The Act also establishes necessary requirements for ensuring an efficient occurrence reporting system at all levels. Competent authorities are designated, who have to be notified of occurrences. The Civil Aviation Administration and the Safety Investigation Bureau continue to be the competent authorities.

In addition, the procedure for the notification of the national competent authorities and for the transmission of the relevant data is specified. The Act changes the period of notification of an occurrence. Under the Act that was in force before, an occurrence had to be reported within 24 hours but, under the amendment, within 72 hours. The amendments made to the Act require the reporter to submit a preliminary analysis to the Civil Aviation Administration within one month after the occurrence and, within three months, a final report that would point out safety risks and describe the action implemented after that.

The Bill on Amendments to § 5 of the Income Tax Act (186 SE), initiated by the Centre Party Faction, was transferred to tomorrow’s sitting.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201604191000.

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
Marie Kukk
T: 631 6456; 58 213 309
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee