At today’s plenary sitting, the Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills intended to additionally increase pensions in the coming year.
The Bill on Amendments to § 61 of the State Pension Insurance Act (79 SE), initiated by the Government, concerns the increasing of the base amount of pensions by seven euro on 1 April 2020 after the indexation of pensions. According to the forecast, together with indexation, pensions will increase by 45 euro.
According the explanatory memorandum, in 2020, the increasing of the base amount of pension will concern around 330,000 persons, and it will reduce the relative poverty rate among pensioners by 0.6 percentage points. The explanatory memorandum notes that the extraordinary increasing of the base amount of pension will increase the pensions of all old-age pensioners, persons receiving pension for incapacity for work and persons receiving a survivor’s pension. The increasing of the solidarity component will help relatively more the non-working pensioners who receive a lower pension.
During the debate, Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party), Oudekki Loone (Centre Party) and Indrek Saar (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.
The Bill on Amendments to § 61 of the State Pension Insurance Act (31 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, will provide that the base amount of pension will rise by 100 euro and the national pension will rise by 60 euro after the indexation due on 1 April 2020.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the Bill is intended to improve the subsistence of the elderly. It is intended to increase old-age pensions to the extent that the average old-age pension would be above the relative poverty rate. According to the explanatory memorandum, the increase in the national pension proposed by the Bill will help the elderly out of absolute poverty.
Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu did not support a proposal by the Chancellor of Justice:
The Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise made a proposal to the Riigikogu to bring clause 18 (1) 6) of the Local Government Organisation Act into conformity with the Constitution. In the words of the Chancellor of Justice, the clause is in breach of the right to stand as a candidate and the fundamental right to freely choose profession, area of activity and position of employment.
The Chancellor of Justice explained that the restriction under which people who had a contract of employment with a city or a rural municipality could not be members of a municipal council was in conflict with the Constitution. As examples she mentioned bus drivers, cleaners and stadium guards, who must choose between their job and their mandate when they are elected at local elections.
“The right to stand as a candidate and to start working in the representative body after being elected, as well as the right to vote and to retain one’s job are very important fundamental rights. Clear and logical justifications must be given if these rights are restricted,” Madise said. In her words, there were no such justifications in that case. Madise noted that active local people were often members of municipal councils, and the Local Government Organisation Act and the Anti-corruption Act set out clear and strict rules for withdrawal.
During the debate, Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party) took the floor, and noted that drawing a border in the issue of the membership of municipal councils was a legislative policy choice. He called on the factions to think along in that matter.
Paul Puustusmaa spoke on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction. He said that his faction saw no conflict with the Constitution in that issue. He noted that the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice could bring about a greater risk of proceeds of corrupt practices, and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party did not support that.
Siim Kiisler (Isamaa) noted that the legislative amendment proposed by the Chancellor of Justice would not resolve the situation, and that there was no substantial conflict with the Constitution. Thus, in his words, there was no reason to support the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice. He added that the question of how to increase trust in municipal councils deserved further analysis.
Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) said in his speech that the concept of official was narrow in Estonia. He noted that, currently, employees had the right to stand as candidates, but a problem arose when they were elected and had to decide between their office and their mandate.
31 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice, 37 were against, and there were two abstentions. Thus, the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice was not supported.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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