When presenting the report on the implementation of “The Fundamentals of the Cultural Policy until 2020” in 2017 to the Riigikogu today, the Minister of Culture Indrek Saar said that Estonia’s success as a cultural state was based on the creativity of our people, and preserving Estonian was a task for all of us.
Saar said that Estonian culture was doing fine, it was loved in its home country, and recognised internationally. “This is confirmed on the one hand by the statistics on visitors of museums, theatres, cinema and concerts, and on the other by the success of our creative persons everywhere in the world,” Saar said. The minister said that the aim was to increase cultural export even more.
When presenting the report on the implementation of cultural policy, Saar pointed out an objective according to which the salary of culture workers should rise to the level of the average salary in Estonia. He noted that the salary of the culture workers remunerated from the state budget had risen from 731 euro to 1150 euro in three years.
When touching upon thematic years, Saar said that 2017 had been the cultural year of children and young people that had been directed at the valuing of the new generation. He noted that on 1 September the hobby activities reform had been implemented which aimed to ensure that every child had an opportunity to participate in hobby activities. “As of this year, the volume of the hobby activities support measure is 15 million euro,” Saar said.
The minister said that in the current year the focus was on the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia with the “EV100” jubilee and cultural programme extending over several years, but 2018 was also be the year of cultural heritage. He expressed concern that one third of construction monuments were in a bad or emergency state. To ensure the preservation of cultural monuments, Saar said, the new Heritage Conservation Act drafted in the Ministry of Culture would reach the Riigikogu in the coming months. He also noted that the architecture that was currently created should also be valued more.
When speaking of cultural diversity, Saar said that one challenge was to reduce segregation and to step up cooperation between various communities. “Looking back on 2017, we are pleased that cultural life has significantly intensified in Ida-Virumaa and Narva,” Saar said. “Language cafés have contributed to the emergence of a common language space.”
In his speech, Saar also touched on folk culture. The grand event of last year was the XII Youth Song and Dance Celebration “Here I’ll Stay”. One of the most important events in the area of administration of the Ministry of Culture last year had been the opening of the Estonian Film Museum at Maarjamäe in Tallinn, the minister said. He also summarised the developments of the past year and supports in the areas of performing arts, cinematography, sound arts, literature and publishing, visual arts, and cultural journalism and media.
Laine Randjärv, who took the floor on behalf of the Reform Party Faction during the debate, expressed concern over the funding and status of the Song and Dance Celebration, and recommended discussing the issue after a thorough analysis also in the development strategy for culture until 2030.
Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits, who spoke on behalf of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, said that, when setting next big goals, it was first of all necessary to think of investments and to decide what to do with the potential new building of the Estonian Public Broadcasting, the Estonian National Opera and the National Library.
Krista Aru, who spoke on behalf of the Free Party Faction, commended the cultural policy directed at internationalisation and dialogue, and the raising of the salaries of culture workers, but at the same time drew attention to the importance of the valuing and preservation of national heritage.
Aadu Must, who took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party Faction, said that the Estonian cultural heritage was so vast that it was impossible to maintain it with only state funding, harsh and difficult choices had to be made, and he called for cooperation between various agencies and sectors.
Hardi Volmer, who spoke on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction, said that state funds were the main means for cultural policy making, but at the same time he emphasised the importance of social creativity and its sustainability.
The Riigikogu passed three Acts:
The Act on Amendments to the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act (532 SE), initiated by the Government, brings the relevant Chapter of the Aviation Act into conformity with the EU Regulation that regulates both commercial and non-commercial air operations. Up to now, only commercial air transport has been regulated at the EU level. In the amendment of the Aviation Act, account has also been taken of the need to bring the Aviation Act into conformity with the relevant EU Regulation that regulates the issues relating to the qualifications and licences of aviation personnel.
70 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act, six were against, and there was one abstention.
The Act on Amendments to the Weapons Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (494 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for the possibility to issue electronic weapons permits, among other things. At present, only weapon permits on paper are in use. If the documents certifying the hunting rights will have been issued electronically, they will not have to be carried on paper while hunting. According to the Act, it is possible for applicants for a weapons permit to take the theory exam, which is in Estonian, also in a foreign language with the help of an interpreter.
The Riigikogu had reviewed the motions to amend, and a number of amendments had been incorporated into the Act during the second reading. Besides the right to use a silencer, the permitted quantity of cartridges for firearms in the ownership of a natural person was also increased from the current 100 cartridges to 200, and a holder of a weapons permit has the right to own up to 5000 primers.
During the debate, Madis Milling (Reform Party), Rein Randver (Social Democratic Party), Henn Põlluaas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Jaanus Karilaid (Centre Party), Raivo Aeg (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union) and Külliki Kübarsepp (Free Party) took the floor.
52 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act, and 33 were against.
The aim of the Act on Accession to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (557 SE), initiated by the Government, is to accede to and implement in Estonia the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004. The aim of the convention is to protect the marine environment from alien species who may be transferred through ships’ ballast water. The spread of alien species is considered one of the five main threats to biological diversity.
The main amendment is that the ships that use ballast water will have to duly manage the ballast water discharged into the sea which means that cleaning systems will have to be installed on ships.
Accession to the convention enables ships flying Estonian flag to apply for exemptions from these requirements. It is possible to grant exemptions to ships which operate between specified ports. In Estonia, exemptions will be applied for presumably for regular routes, for example, Tallinn–Helsinki and Tallinn–Stockholm routes. In Estonia, the Maritime Administration, which performs the functions of the maritime administration in Estonia, will grant exemptions. Not installing cleaning systems on ships is justified if the alien species are the same in the ports on the regular routes.
The convention was adopted at the Assembly of the International Maritime Organization in 2004 and it entered into force internationally on 8 September last year. 63 states which represent 68.51 per cent of the world’s merchant fleet have ratified or approved or acceded to the convention.
70 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act and there was one abstention.
Two Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the State Assets Act (570 SE), initiated by the Government, is connected with the preparation for the listing of the shares of Port of Tallinn Ltd and Enefit Green Ltd on stock exchanges. In order that the state as a shareholder would not have an advantage over other shareholders, the state will have to withdraw into the same information space with other shareholders.
The Bill will ensure that the activities of partially state-owned companies listed on stock exchanges comply with stock exchange rules and that all shareholders are treated equally. This will enable to achieve the fair value of the shares of partially state-owned companies for the state as well as private investors, because the state will be bound to behave as an ordinary investor, that is, on the basis of the principles of private investors and the information available to them. The Bill will provide that the provisions of the State Assets Act that are in conflict with the requirements for the management of companies, the disclosure of information and carrying out a special audit, valid in the securities market, will not be applied in the case of a partially state-owned company if its securities are listed on stock exchanges or an application for listing its securities is submitted.
According to the amendments proposed in the Bill, the Government will not be able to ask the multiannual strategy and financial plans of a company to make decisions relating to the company. Also, it is not good practice that the annual dividend of a company on a stock exchange is decided at the Government level. In the future, the state will not have the right to use its structural unit to conduct a special audit of a company, and the minister will not have the right to obtain the minutes of the meetings of the supervisory board, and materials that are considered internal information. The requirement to the effect that participation of partially state-owned companies in other companies is to be decided by the general meeting will also not be able to be applied.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the state has a holding in 29 operating companies as at December 2017.
The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Bankruptcy Act, the Credit Institutions Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act (remuneration of trustee in bankruptcy) (575 SE), initiated by the Government, is to give employees an earlier and simpler possibility to receive an insolvency benefit from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund in the event of the insolvency of their employer, and to ensure legal clarity in the time of the payment of and the method of calculating the remuneration of interim trustees and trustees in bankruptcy. The courts will have an obligation to assess the solvency of the employer on the basis of the data submitted by an employee already when the court makes the ruling not to accept the bankruptcy petition for proceedings. The employee can turn to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund with such a ruling in order to apply for an insolvency benefit. In bankruptcy proceedings without assets, the courts will be given a legal basis to remunerate the trustees in bankruptcy also on an hourly wage basis. At the same time, it will be possible for an interim trustee to lodge a claim for reimbursement of his or her remuneration and expenses against a shareholder of a private limited company that has been established without a contribution.
The sitting ended at 5.44 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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