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Prime Minister Juhan Parts gave an overview of the situation in research and development activities and the Government?s policy in this sphere.

In the words of the Prime Minister, in 2005 the volume of the national research and development activities is approximately EEK one billion. Last year the total expenditure of the sphere formed 0.83 per cent of the GDP. Mr. Parts attached importance to the fact that Estonia would not back down the political objective to achieve the level of 3 per cent of the GDP for the expenditure of research and development activities and on the assumption that the expenditure of the public sector would be at the level of 1 per cent and the expenditure of the private sector would form 2 per cent. ?The first step would be to bring the public expenditure to the level of one per cent by the year 2010, that means to allocate supplementary EEK 200 million for the financing of the sphere every following year,? the Prime Minister said.

Speaking of favoured spheres, the Prime Minister stated that the priorities of the research and development activities, one was still looking for, although they had been previously set up. ?In the strategy the Knowledge-based Estonia the Riigikogu has made its choice for biotechnology, materials science and information technology. Now it is necessary to respect these choices, to explain their meaning more clearly and concretely and to allocate the resources as appropriate, ? he said.

Speaking of the subsidies from the European Structural Funds, Mr. Parts stated that up till now the restrictions related to the financing from Structural Funds are underestimated. For example, through Structural Funds it is not possible to finance several activities in the centres of excellence. Estimatedly in the next years it is necessary to allocate extra EEK 100-200 million from the Structural Funds for the research and development activities.

After the Prime Minister?s speech, the representatives of factions took the floor.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 2 of the Public and National Holidays Act and to § 25 of the Working and Rest Time Act (576 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction.