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Prime Minister Andrus Ansip replied to the interpellation concerning complying with the European Social Charter (No 76), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Mai Treial, Karel Rüütli, Villu Reiljan, Ester Tuiksoo and Tarmo Mänd on 5 June. The interpellators pointed out that Estonia was not complying with the principle of the Charter requiring that the level of income-replacement benefits should never fall below the poverty threshold defined as 50% of median equivalised income. The interpellators asked when the Government was going to begin to comply with the respective provisions of the European Social Charter and the European Code of Social Security. 

Prime Minister explained that the European Committee of Social Rights had concluded on the basis of the report submitted by Estonia in 2005 that our minimum pensions were too low because they remained below the poverty line. The report was made on the basis of the period from 2003 until 2004. “Compared to the specified reporting period, pension rates have risen significantly since then, owing to the rise resulting from indexation as well as the additional increase of pensions on the basis of political decisions,” said Ansip. The average old-age pension in case of a pension qualifying period of 44 years is 4560 kroons as at 1 April 2008, that is, nearly two times higher than at the same time in 2004. Pensions have seen an even more rapid surge as regards shorter pension qualifying periods. For example, the national pension rate was 990 kroons per month as at 1 April 2004, and it is 1913 kroons per month as at 1 April 2008. Ansip asserted that the coalition programme for 2007-2011 provided doubling of pensions within four years. For this end several modifications have been made in the pension system. “The changes are made with consideration to ensuring a fair pension system and complying with the objectives of state pension insurance and financial policy,” explained Prime Minister. 

Ansip also replied to the interpellation concerning vocational training at Valgamaa Vocational Training Centre Helme Department (No 78), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Heimar Lenk, Inara Luigas, Jaak Aab and Toivo Tootsen on 18 June. Ansip explained the background of the problems relating to this educational institution. The Prime Minister said in conclusion: “At the moment, the Government is not planning to liquidate any schools in Helme rural municipality. Schooling will definitely be continued at Valgamaa Vocational Training Centre Helme Department in the coming years until completion of the construction of the new studying facilities in Valga. In the meantime, further development schemes must be prepared for Helme Vocational Training Centre.”

The Riigikogu Press Service