Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning the marine policy of Estonia (No. 114), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Artur Talvik, Ain Lutsepp, Monika Haukanõmm, Külliki Kübarsepp, Andres Ammas, Krista Aru, Jüri Adams and Andres Herkel on 7 December.
The interpellators highlighted the fact that marine affairs are a field of high added-value that has been one of the main fields of activity for the Estonian state and people historically.
At the moment, companies residing in Estonia operate with about 50 cargo ships that however do not sail under the Estonian flag. The reason is that the business environment is not favourable. In connection with that, our seafarers do not have jobs in their home county either and, as a result of that, the state misses out on the corresponding tax receipts. Data show that about 5000 qualified seafarers earn their income at foreign shipowners under a foreign flag. The marine transport sector is of significant importance to both the export capacity and tourism in Estonia.
The interpellators wished to know what the Prime Minister was going to do in connection with marine policy in order to improve the situation. The interpellators refer to the fact that the marine economy is not recognised as an independent economic branch in Estonia. At the same time, national documents say that it is an important field after all. A total of eight ministries are connected with the marine economy although no such branch exists in legal language. The Prime Minister was asked what the reason for such undervaluing of the marine field was, and how he was going to improve the situation.
Rõivas explained that the number of the ministries that are connected with marine issues is indeed big. He considered it positive that the problems of a sector are discussed in the areas of administration of several ministries because, this way, different parties contribute to the field. The implementation plan for “The Marine Development Plan for 2012–2020” has been drawn up for the years 2014–2016. The report on the implementation thereof will be submitted to the Government in 2017.
A working group established in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has analysed in detail the competitiveness of the Estonian shipping sector, and has presented its proposals in the document “Strengthening of the Competitiveness of the Estonian Shipping Sector”. “It contains, among other things, the aspects of reorganisation of ship registers, taxation of cargo ships, movement of foreign labour force on cargo ships sailing under the Estonian flag, and ensuring social guarantees for Estonian seafarers working there,” Rõivas said. He said that the discussions between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications have to continue.
“It is not in fact correct to paint the competitiveness of Estonian shipping in such black colours. If we take for example passenger ships, the largest passenger ship company on the Baltic Sea is an Estonian company which has also acquired a very big and historical company that earlier belonged to Finnish capital,” Rõivas explained. The Estonian company Tallink is known not only in the Baltic Sea countries but also much more widely.
Rõivas said that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance is going to bring an analysis on possible tax incentives and other solutions to the Government’s table. “Then we will be able to look at the pros and cons of possible alternatives. The general experience has shown that tax incentives are one of the most inefficient ways to solve problems. Such a principle does not mean however that we should always necessarily exclude one or another solution,” the Prime Minister noted.
Rõivas also replied to the interpellation concerning the reform of state administration and raising of reasonability (No. 126).
The Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur replied to the interpellation concerning the explaining of the amendments to the Weapons Act (No. 128), the interpellation concerning possible abuses in the Police and Border Guard Board (No. 134),
and the interpellation concerning the education requirements for police officers and higher officials of the Police and Border Guard Board (No. 136).
During the open microphone, Jüri Adams took the floor.
The sitting ended at 5.54 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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Riigikogu Press Service
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