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January 21, 2008

The Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning the opening of the market of postal services (No 27), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Kalev Kallo, Arvo Sarapuu, Tiit Kuusmik, Valeri Korb, Helle Kalda and Inara Luigas on 19 November 2007. The interpellators enquired which steps the Government was going to take for stopping the reported deterioration of the availability of postal services.

Ansip explained that the first subsection of § 51 of the Postal Act provided that the universal postal service provider had the exclusive right to forward letters with the weight of more than 50 g at the national level until 31 December 2008. The reserved area should be discarded after that date and the market will be opened to new postal service providers.

The Eesti Post Ltd has the obligation arising from law to ensure the providing of consistent, high-quality postal services at reasonable prices on the whole territory of Estonia on the bases and pursuant to the procedure provided in Acts, Ansip noted. The Eesti Post Ltd uses motored carriage in areas of low density and small market where a permanent post office would be unreasonable and, in addition to motored carriage, also the services of the postal bus as a pilot project in South Estonia. Motored carriage, that is, a mail carrier who gets around by car, brings the necessary postal services to home to people. This may include home delivery of letters, parcels or pension, the ordering of periodical publications or sale of philatelic products. A postal bus is a mobile post office which operates on the agreed route and also offers all postal services. “The Eesti Post Ltd is not reducing the accessibility of postal services, it is bringing the services to consumers in a more economic and modern way, thereby also showing increased flexibility in its activities,” the Prime Minister explained. “Changes are always complicated and, above all, unaccustomed for customers, however, this does not mean that they are necessarily bad or useless or that they would not result in improved service at the end of the day,” Ansip said.

The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning the privatisation of the Estonian Air (No 29), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Kalev Kallo, Olga Sõtnik, Lauri Laasi, Lembit Kaljuvee, Vladimir Velman, Heimar Lenk, Nelli Privalova, Rein Ratas, Enn Eesmaa, Aadu Must and Toivo Tootsen on 22 November 2007. The interpellators wished to hear the opinion of the Government on the issue. The Prime Minister said that the Government had not discussed the matter and neither had it decided to sell the shares of the Estonian Air.

The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning the administrative reform (No 30), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Arvo Sarapuu, Toomas Varek, Jaak Aab, Aadu Must, Tiit Kuusmik, Jüri Ratas, Helle Kalda, Lembit Kaljuvee, Inara Luigas, Toivo Tootsen, Jaan Kundla, Enn Eesmaa, Valeri Korb and Vladimir Velman on 3 December 2007. The interpellators asked which steps the Government was going to take for increasing the administrative capacity of local governments.

Ansip said that the Ministry of Finance had submitted the Financial Management of Local Governments Bill for approval in the previous year, and the Minister of Regional Affairs and national local government associations had submitted several significant proposals and comments on the Bill which all had had to be analysed thoroughly. In all probability, the Bill is going to be taken to the legislative proceeding of the Riigikogu by the spring session of this year.

The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning the VEB Fund (No 32), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Karel Rüütli, Jaanus Marrandi, Mai Treial, Ester Tuiksoo, Tarmo Mänd and Villu Reiljan on 6 December 2007. The interpellators wished to know what the Government had done to solve the problem of the claims of the VEB Fund with Russia at intergovernmental level and whether any claims against Estonia were impending in connection with the Fund.

Ansip explained that, as is known, the VEB Fund is gathering the claims of legal persons of Estonia against the Bank of Foreign Economics of the former Soviet Union. This is not an obligation of Estonia. Our courts have taken the position several years ago that Russia, and not the Estonian state, is responsible for funds which were frozen more than 16 years ago. “After restoration of independence, none of the Estonian Governments has yet succeeded in bringing the topic of the VEB Fund to the negotiation table, due to the opposition of Russia. However, this may probably take place sometime in the future”, the Prime Minister said.

The Minister of Social Affairs Maret Maripuu replied to the interpellation concerning water with higher-level radioactivity (No 28), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Vladimir Velman, Rein Ratas, Nelli Privalova, Jüri Ratas, Olga Sõtnik, Tiit Kuusmik, Lembit Kaljuvee, Valeri Korb, Enn Eesmaa, Jaan Kundla, Inara Luigas, Kadri Must, Helle Kalda and Heimar Lenk on 21 November 2007.

Maripuu asserted that, so far, the Health Protection Inspectorate had not issued a permit to any water handler in cases where radiological indicators of drinking water were exceeded. “Also, no sales permit of drinking water which does not conform to the quality requirements but is harmless for health has been suspended for exceeding the level of radio nuclides,” the Minister said. The Health Protection Inspectorate has organised meetings for preparing an action plan concerning the radioactivity of drinking water in co-operation with various relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, the Radiation Protection Centre, the Institute of Physics of the University of Tartu, the Geological Survey of Estonia and the Estonian Water Enterprises Association. As a result of this work, the draft national development plan for radiation safety until 2017 is available to the public at the homepage of the Ministry of the Environment, the problems relating to radioactivity of drinking water are highlighted and the necessary activities have been proposed.

The Minister of Social Affairs also replied to the interpellation concerning health care (No 31), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Villu Reiljan, Mai Treial, Tarmo Mänd, Jaanus Marrandi, Ester Tuiksoo and Karel Rüütli on 5 December 2007. The questions concerned the treatment of AIDS and accessibility of health care services, the reserves of the health insurance fund, the avoiding of disruption of work in health care system, the establishing of activity based prices for health services and the proportion of health care services in the GDP.

Maripuu affirmed: “Our activities are constantly aimed towards development of health services, health education, health protection and prevention so that these would meet both the expectations and the needs of the people, and would ensure sustainable improvement of the health of the population. We are also continuing the process of developing the population health policy initiated in recent years which is aimed at preparing of a development plan for population health which would provide a common targeted framework for the development of the health sector.”

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) is available at: https://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno

The Riigikogu Press Service