At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu discussed the motion of no confidence in the Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, which Kaja Kallas had submitted on behalf of 45 members of the Riigikogu. The motion of no confidence was not supported. 46 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour and 53 were against. The support of at least 51 members of the Riigikogu was needed to express no confidence.
When submitting the motion of no confidence, Kaja Kallas said that, starting from the Government’s assumption of office, and unfortunately also before that, the Minister of the Interior Mart Helme had damaged the reputation of the Estonian state and the reputation of the agencies reporting to his ministry. Besides, he had shown by his behaviour that he did not understand the responsibility accompanying the post of member of the Government. “Mart Helme has verbally attacked and degraded women, scientists, social sector experts, the press and the principles of the rule of law from the position of a member of the Government.”
The Minister of the Interior Mart Helme fended off the accusations put to him and presented his explanations: “They are unfounded and wrong,” Helme said, and reproached the members of the Riigikogu who had submitted the motion of no confidence. Then Helme answered questions from members of the Riigikogu. The questions put and the answers given are published via the link to the verbatim record of the sitting below.
During the debate, Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party), Kaja Kallas (Reform Party) and Jaak Madison (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
The Riigikogu passed a Resolution
The Riigikogu passed The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of Members of the Supervisory Board of the State Forest Management Centre” (24 OE), submitted by the Environment Committee, which provides for the appointment of members of the Riigikogu Mihhail Korb and Andres Metsoja as members of the Council.
82 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Resolution, five were against, and there was one abstention.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills
The Bill on the Denunciation of the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches (25 SE), initiated by the Government.
The Convention established over three decades ago is outdated by now and no longer provides sufficient solution to football-related violence. Adherence to the Convention may in some cases even increase the risks relating to safety and security at football matches, for example disproportionate use of riot police.
In 2016, a newer and updated convention was drafted in the Council of Europe which also focuses on security and good services at matches, besides managing violence. In order that Estonia could accede to the newer convention, it is necessary to denounce the earlier agreement.
The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (30 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction and the Faction Isamaa, will amend the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act, in order to reduce the excise duty rates for beer, cider and strong alcoholic beverages by 25 per cent with the aim of curbing the business in border areas. The explanatory memorandum notes that the excise duty rates for alcohol will be lowered with the aim of giving undertakings the possibility to reduce alcohol prices at the expense of reducing the excise duty rate in order to curb the business in alcohol in the areas of Estonian-Latvian border which has intensified from 2015 onwards. As a result of alcohol becoming cheaper, the quantities of alcohol procured in Latvia may decrease and the quantities of alcohol bought in Estonia, i.e. in the northern border area, may grow.
No legislative intent for the Bill has been drawn up because it is an urgent issue of state budget revenue. The action programme for 2019-2023 approved by the Government on 23 May 2019 provides for a reduction in excise duty rates with a view to bringing tax revenues into Estonia.
The Riigikogu rejected a Bill
The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act, the Social Tax Act and Other Acts (7 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, which also provided for lowering alcohol excise duty rates in order to reduce the business in border areas which has grown extensively due to high excise duty rates.
During the debate, Siim Pohlak (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor and moved to reject the Bill at the first reading, and Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party) called on to support the Bill.
61 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of the rejection and 32 were against. The Bill was dropped from the proceedings.
At the beginning of today’s sitting, the members of the Riigikogu held a moment of silence in remembrance of the late, long-serving member of the Riigikogu Mart Nutt who died unexpectedly on 2 June.
The sitting ended at 8.54 p.m.
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.)
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