Lipstok explained that it is up to the Supervisory Board of Eesti Pank and, in conclusion, the Riigikogu, to decide on the results of the work of Eesti Pank. Lipstok confirmed that confidence in the Estonian kroon, and the currency board and the economic policy of Estonia, especially in the current complicated market situation, continues to be relatively high. As an example, he mentioned the report on the Estonian economy, published by the International Monetary Fund in March this year, and the discussion of it in the Board of Directors of the IMF. As a result of the discussion, the IMF confirmed that the system of the Monetary Committee has been useful for Estonia and the Estonian financial sector has withstood the global crisis well. The background of these two sentences is a long and hard work, several missions, and this assessment in this form is definitely competent and tenable. Also, the vulnerabilities which jeopardised the economy in recent years have remarkably diminished by now. The inflation which soared after the accession to the European Union has definitely dropped. The price level in Estonia will remain stable or may even drop to a certain extent this year and the coming year. The current account deficit, that is, the discrepancy between the savings and investments of the economy has decreased and the current account may be in surplus this year. Therefore, economy has become significantly less dependent on the inflow of foreign money.
Lipstok affirmed that Estonian currency and banking are weathering the global crisis well. The stable exchange rate of the kroon and the banking integrated with Northern countries are the main pillars of the adjustment and the new growth phase of the Estonian economy. No less important in this context are the stable exchange rate of the kroon and the sustainability of the Monetary Committee system which we have already confirmed by our activities, as well as sticking to the policy towards the adoption of euro, and the adoption of euro at the earliest possibility when the results of the assessment of fulfilling the Maastricht criteria make it possible.
Lipstok said that the cooperation between Eesti Pank and other competent authorities nationally and in the Northern and Baltic region is generally fluent and trusting. In Lipstok’s words, this has certainly significantly contributed to maintaining the stability of banking in the current tense market situation. Lipstok emphasised that, in the estimation of Eesti Pank, Estonia will meet all Maastricht criteria by the end of this year, including the inflation criterion which has been postponing the possibilities of the adoption of euro. “Inflation has decreased significantly in Estonia and it will remain at a lower level or will be negative both this year and the coming year. The budget criterion has become a key issue by now and the essential and the most important economic policy measure for supporting the adoption of euro is to keep budget deficit at the level of less than 3 per cent of gross domestic product,” noted the President of Eesti Pank.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning implementation of the Social Charter (No 264), submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction.
Ansip noted that countries are supposed to report annually on the performance of the obligations assumed by the European Social Charter. On the basis of the conclusions of 2008, Estonia has problems with the length of the alternative service in the Defence Forces, availability of career counselling provided as an employment service, and employment of disabled persons. From earlier conclusions, the issue of the limited right to strike, scarcity of social security agreements, nonconformity of the subsistence level and the fact that physical punishment of children in families is not prohibited are still topical. Estonia is no exception among the European countries in not having ratified one or another article of the European Social Charter. On the contrary, France and Portugal are the only ones to have fully ratified the revised Social Charter. Fifteen Member States of the European Union, including also Austria, Poland and Spain, have not yet ratified the revised Social Charter which was approved in 1996. “In all conclusions, Estonia has deserved mostly positive assessment. On the other hand, taking account of the critical conclusions, we have increased pensions, improved the occupational health and safety regulations for sole proprietors, and labour law protection of working children,” said Ansip.
The Prime Minister also replied to twelve interpellations submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction, concerning Sõmera care home (No 249), the year of poverty and social exclusion (No 250), the Fishing Act (No 252), gender equality in local governments and the state (No 253), the activities of the Minister of Regional Affairs (No 254), the merger of the Health Protection Inspectorate, the Health Care Board and the Chemicals Notification Centre (No 256), a nuclear power station (No 261), Niguliste Museum-Concert Hall (No 262), the problems relating to the use of recreational craft in internal water bodies (No 263), the Government of the Republic Act and the Planning Act (No 266), the House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads (No 267) and the situation in the labour market (No 270).
The Minister of the Environment Jaanus Tamkivi replied to four interpellations, concerning the environment strategy (No 197), the development plan of the Ministry of the Environment (No 198), the use of unreformed state land (No 199), implementation of Agenda 21 (No 200), submitted by members of the Estonian Centre Party Faction, and an interpellation concerning the reduction of a building exclusion zone in Jõelähtme rural municipality (No 275), submitted by members of the Estonian Green Party.
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act (457 SE), initiated by the Estonian Green Party Faction, was excluded from the agenda for the working week.
The sitting ended at 7.43 p.m.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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