At today’s plenary sitting, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas made a political statement before the Riigikogu on the situation due to the spread of coronavirus.
“Taking into account the global epidemiological situation and the spread of coronavirus in Europe, the increasing threats to the Estonian economy, the difficulties of the supply chains in the business sector, the domestic and foreign policy challenges and the need for a more efficient management structure for various state authorities, in my opinion, it can be clearly said that we have reached an emergency. However, we will overcome it as a society and with everyone’s contribution,” Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said.
The Prime Minister said that the Government had decided to take the following additional measures:
– to postpone the reception of cruise ships until 1 May;
– in the organisation of official missions of state authority employees, local governments, as well as the private and non-profit sector, the recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to be considered;
– to recommend to postpone public events with more than 100 participants;
– to obligate the Health Board to coordinate the authorisation of public events with more than 100 participants, and to task it with the assessment of the conformity of the authorizations already issued;
– to postpone all planned tours in state authorities from today;
– to open a coronavirus crisis hotline number 1247 from 16 March at the latest.
The Prime Minister said that the Government had also formed a committee that would manage the addressing of the situation related to COVID-19, and the search for solutions to the resulting public health and economic problems.
The head of Government said that, at the same time, it was definitely very important to make sure that a balance was maintained between the freedoms of people, the overall functioning of society, and the steps needed to contain the virus. “There is a risk that the health crisis will evolve into a wider crisis affecting our economy, our welfare, and people’s jobs. The European Union Member States and institutions are engaged in close cooperation and information exchange to address these issues,” the head of Government confirmed.
The Prime Minister appealed to everyone to take care of their own and their close ones’ health and to pay attention to their behaviour regarding the people around them, particularly the elderly people belonging to risk groups and other fellow people with poorer health.
“If we all act together and everyone makes efforts, with calm thinking and common sense, respectful of one other and contributing as a society, we will overcome the current difficult situation,” Ratas said.
As at today, 464 COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Estonia, and there are 17 known cases of the virus at the moment.
The Prime Minister also answered questions from members of the Riigikogu. During the debate, representatives of the factions took the floor and discussed the current situation. Kaja Kallas spoke on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, Kersti Sarapuu on behalf of the Centre Party Faction, and Siim Pohlak on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction. Priit Sibul spoke on behalf of the Faction Isamaa and Indrek Saar on behalf of the Social Democratic Faction.
A Bill passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Liquid Fuel Act (126 SE), initiated by the Government. As of 2020, the obligation to add biocomponents to fossil fuels will be made more flexible, and the transparency and efficiency of the trade in the statistics on the biocomponent and renewable electricity will be increased.
From 2020, the obligation to add biofuel to every litre will be replaced with a semester-based obligation which can also be met by contributing biomethane or electricity into final consumption in the transport sector. According to the Bill, the supplier will decide how to most efficiently meet the biofuel obligation over the semester. As another amendment, an electronic database for trade in statistics will be implemented. It will provide a transparent opportunity for suppliers to sell to suppliers who need statistics the statistics in excess of the minimum share of the obligation to add biofuel.
The Bill aims to support the domestic production of biomethane and the use of electricity in the transport sector. The Bill is intended to reduce the demand in Estonia for first generation biofuel produced from food crops, and to reduce the price pressure on the final price of fuel relating to the addition of biocomponents.
Amendments were also made to the Bill, and trams and trolleybuses, which use electricity and are part of road transport, were included. A year-based calculation will be implemented instead of the semester-based calculation, and the sanction in the amount of 5 million euro, provided for the failure to comply with the semester-based obligation, was replaced with a year-based sanction in the amount of 10 million euro.
The trade in the statistics on renewable energy was also made more flexible.
The requirements in the regulation of the Liquid Fuel Act (including the obligation to add biocomponents) will no longer be applied to the petrol used in lawn mowers and chain saws.
If the Act is passed, it will enter into force on 1 April.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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