Prime Minister Andrus Ansip made a political statement before the Riigikogu in connection with the submission of the supplementary budget.
The Prime Minister noted that much had changed since the moment of passing the 2009 state budget in autumn previous year. “The economic situation and, consequently, tax revenues have declined dramatically. According to the risk prognosis of Eesti Pank, this year’s state budget may go into a deficit of up to 15 billion kroons. This is more than we can afford. The Estonian state has gathered substantial reserves in recent years which guarantee us the security and solvency so urgently needed in the present moment of crisis but to eat up the savings as fast food cannot be a reasonable resolution to the situation. Cutting the budget expenditure is painful and uncomfortable and yet inevitable,” said the Prime Minister.
The Government has prepared a negative supplementary budget with the aim of improving the budget position of the government sector by 8 billion kroons. “This is the only way to avoid excessive accumulation of national debt, to keep some reserves for the future and to retain the hope to enter the eurozone as soon as in 2011,” explained Ansip.
In the words of the Prime Minister, the Government wishes to keep a rapid pace in decision-making and to give budget cuts the necessary legislative force at the earliest opportunity. With this intention in mind, the Government will bind the passing of the Bill on Amendments to the Supplementary Budget of the Year 2009 Act and Associated Acts with a vote of confidence in the Government
The Riigikogu passed an Act and a Resolution:
The Act on Amendments to the Police Service Act, the Defence Forces Service Act, the Border Guard Service Act, the Prosecutor’s Office Act, the Courts Act, the Chancellor of Justice Act, the National Audit Office Act, the Members of the XII Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia and of the VII, VIII and IX Riigikogu Pension Act, the President of the Republic Official Benefits Act, the State Pension Insurance Act and the Public Service Act (375 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Hanno Pevkur, Urmas Reinsalu and Hannes Rumm, which reorganises the bases for payment of state special pensions, was passed with 81 votes in favour. According to the Act, a person who receives special pension will lose the right to special pension if he or she is convicted of an intentionally committed offence against the state or against honesty which is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. The Act concerns the persons who receive occupational pension on the basis of the Police Service Act, the Defence Forces Service Act, the Courts Act, the Chancellor of Justice Act and the National Audit Office Act. In the case of an offence against the state or against honesty, a Member of Parliament will also lose the right to the old-age pension for Members of Parliament. The President will lose the right to occupational pension if his or her term of office is terminated due to the entry into force of a judgment convicting him or her of a criminal offence. In the case of conviction, the spouse of the President will lose his or her official benefits, that is, the right to have a secretary at his or her disposal, to use an official car and services related to the maintenance and use thereof, to receive a monthly representation allowance to cover the representation costs the amount of which is 30 per cent of the salary of the President, and to receive a benefit for travel costs and other justified expenses.
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Estonian Defence Forces in Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (414 OE), submitted by the Government, which provides the extension of the time limit of the use of the Estonian Defence Forces with a staff of up to five in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria, led by the UN (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization – UNTSO), provided in an earlier Resolution of the Riigikogu, until 31 December 2010, as of 21 February 2009, was passed with 81 votes in favour.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of three Bills:
the Bill on Amendments to the Gender Equality Act, the Equal Treatment Act, the Republic of Estonia Employment Contracts Act, the Local Government Organisation Act and the Local Government Council Election Act (317 SE), initiated by the Government. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Act such that it would adhere to the requirements provided by the European Community. Among other amendments, the definition of harassment on grounds of sex will be added to the Estonian law and, with a view to ensuring better legal protection of persons, it will be prohibited to request data relating to the issues connected with gender identity from applicants for a job. According to the Bill, harassment on grounds of sex occurs where an unwanted conduct or activity related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The Constitutional Committee added a motion to amend the Bill, initiated by the same Committee, which amends the title of the Bill and regulates the Local Government Organisation Act and the Local Government Council Election Act. The motion to amend specifies the procedure for giving compensation mandates in local governments with several electoral districts which will help avoid confusion in the ascertaining of persons who are elected. The Local Government Council Election Act will provide the election procedure in a town with a population of more than 300 000 in the case when city districts will be dissolved in Tallinn. According to the Act which is currently in force, electoral districts are to be formed by city districts, with the consideration that each city district is an electoral district. The amendment creates the possibility to dissolve city districts in the future, but the procedure for the formation of electoral districts in such case is established. The Bill also takes into account the potential merger of local governments in the future. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 31 votes in favour, 57 against. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
The Bill on Amendments to the General Part of the Civil Code Act and the Law of Obligations Act (365 SE), initiated by the Government, provides the establishing of a flexible limitation for consumer loans of natural persons (the so-called SMS loans) depending on the market situation, and an interest rate or annual percentage rate of a consumer credit contract exceeding such limitation will be contrary to good morals. According to the Bill, in case of consumer credit contracts it will be presumed that the value of the mutual obligations of the parties is out of balance contrary to good morals also in the cases when, at the time of grant of credit, the annual percentage rate payable by the consumer exceeds by more than three times the average percentage rate of consumer loans granted to private persons by credit institutions, as disclosed most recently by Eesti Pank. Eesti Pank will organise the monthly disclosure of the annual percentage rate specified in this section on its website.
the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code and the Taxation Act (360 SE), initiated by the Government.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of three Bills:
The Bill on Amendments to the Status of Member of the Riigikogu Act (421 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, the Estonian People’s Union Faction, the Estonian Reform Party Faction, the Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Estonian Green Party Faction, reduces the rate of compensation of the expenses of Members of the Riigikogu and discards the institution of assistant. According to the Bill, work related expenses shall be compensated for to Members of the Riigikogu on the basis of expense receipts in the amount of up to 15 per cent of the salary of a Member of the Riigikogu, instead of the current 30 per cent. This restriction will apply from 1 March 2009 until the termination of the authority of the 11th composition of the Riigikogu. In the opinion of the initiators, this will reduce the expenditure of the budget of the Riigikogu by an estimation of 9 to 10 million kroons per year.
the Bill on Amendments to the Status of Member of the Riigikogu Act (417 SE), initiated by the Estonian People’s Union Faction.
the Bill on Amendments to the Structural Assistance for the Period of 2004-2006 Act (423 SE), initiated by the Government.
Two Bills were dropped from the legislative proceeding:
On the motion of the representative of the initiators, two Bills were withdrawn from the legislative proceeding: the Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act (368 SE & 293 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, the Estonian People’s Union Faction, the Estonian Reform Party Faction, the Estonian Green Party Faction, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction, and the Bill on Amendments to the Status of Member of the Riigikogu Act (419 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Jaan Kundla.
The Riigikogu did not deliberate:
The following Bills were not deliberated due to absence of reporters from the sitting:
the Bill on Amendments to the Accounting Act (373 SE), initiated by the Government.
the Bill on Amendments to the Planning Act (345 SE), initiated by the Estonian Green Party Faction.
the Bill on Amendments to § 4 and § 10 of the Traffic Act (398 SE), initiated by the Estonian Green Party Faction.
the Bill on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (420 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee.
the Bill on Amendments to the Identity Documents Act, the Consular Act, the Penal Code and the State Fees Act (395 SE), initiated by the Government.
the Bill on Amendments to the Planning Act and Associated Acts (410 SE), initiated by the Government.
At Question Time, the Minister of Internal Affairs Jüri Pihl answered the question about increase of crime, submitted by Kalle Laanet. The Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo answered the question about purchase of arms and defence systems, submitted by Maret Merisaar. The Minister of Culture Laine Jänes answered the question about heritage conservation, submitted by Eldar Efendijev.
The sitting ended at 12.38 a.m.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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