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In connection with forwarding the State Budget of 2007, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip made a political statement before the Riigikogu.Prime Minister stressed the importance of severe and conservative budget policy for the present Government. To quote Mr. Ansip: “The Riigikogu will start to deliberate the budget in which the revenue exceed the expenditure by EEK 1,1 billion: the amount of revenue is EEK 75,687 billion and the amount of expenditure EEK 74,563 billion.” Mr. Ansip stated that the income tax reform would continue in the next year, bringing along the reduction of income tax to 22 %. “We wish to decrease the external sovereign debt, the smallest in the European Union, by EEK 1,8 billion. The debt of the central government will then form only 2.8 % of the GDP,” Mr. Ansip said. In the opinion of the Prime Minister, the budget of the year 2007 can be called “The budget of a secure Estonia”: Secure in the meaning of economic life, security of the state and everyday life of the people. Mr. Ansip said that national defence would take up 1.84 % of the GDP, EEK 220 million was planned for the wages increase of the policemen, EEK 78 million for rescue officials, EEK 38 million for the Border Guard officials. Due to the economic growth, pensions will also increase from 1 April 2007 – the average pension will be EEK 3,490. The economic growth will also enable to increase the wages of teachers as well as cultural workers by 15 %. In the end of his speech, Prime Minister said: “I should like to thank the hard-working Estonian people and honest taxpayers, due to whom the revenue of our state is rapidly growing.”

Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks gave an overview to the Riigikogu of the conformity of legislation passed by the legislative and executive powers and by local governments with the Constitution and the laws before the Riigikogu. The report of Mr. Jõks consisted of three parts: an overview on last year’s positive developments, problems of the Estonian law and order, and visions of the Chancellor of Justice about developments jeopardizing democracy.

Positive developments highlighted by Mr. Jõks included the changes to the standards and practices of workers’ redundancy protection and validity of driving licences, a thorough reform of anti-corruption legislation by the Ministry of Justice, the improvement of the citizens’ legal knowledge, the improved professional abilities.

When drawing attention to the weak points of law and order, the Chancellor of Justice stressed that nothing had been done to prevent members of the Riigikogu from belonging illegally to the supervising boards of companies. The Chancellor of Justice also mentioned the problems concerning the establishment of a controlling body for checking the financing of political parties and in connection with this, the restrictions imposed on election propaganda. In the opinion of the Chancellor of Justice, there were still shortcomings in the organization of the Defence Forces, in the matters of school health care, in the accessibility of psychiatric aid, in updating legislation concerning classified information, public water supply and sewerage system and the state legal assistance. The Chancellor of Justice stated that the loop-holes of the state supervision and its fragmentation between different agencies was disturbing. He also drew attention to the dangerous transit vehicles passing through Tallinn, Tartu, Narva and other densely populated locations in Estonia every day, as well as to the problems in planning and organisation of construction works.

When speaking of developments endangering the constitutional order, Mr. Jõks highlighted the superficial integration of the third sector, the labelling of people into has-beens and up-and-comers, referring also to the threats of social sanctions made by the political elite, their disparaging, ridiculing attitude and creation of an atmosphere of fear. In the opinion of the Chancellor of Justice, the society will become more and more closed. The expansion of the activities of political parties is taking on exorbitant dimensions and private interests are habitually given the upper hand over public interests. Mr. Jõks illustrated these allegations with the example of the aspirations to politisise the supervising Board of the National Broadcasting.

Concluding his report, Allar Jõks said: “Solutions to the problems of national importance can be born only in the Hall of the Riigikogu.”

The Riigikogu passed with 46 votes in favour the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, Private Schools Act and Pre-school Child Care Institutions Act Amendment Act (915 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. A lot of amendments and specifications of technical character were introduced in the Acts. The amendments and specifications are necessary for solving the problems and conflicts, due to the amendments introduced in other legal acts, or different interpretations of provisions.

The Riigikogu Press Service