Prime Minister Andrus Ansip made a political statement before the Riigikogu in connection with submission of the Second Supplementary State Budget of the Year 2009 Bill and the Bill on amendments to other associated Acts. “It is in Estonia’s interests to continue with a conservative budget policy owing to which we have been able to create a significantly better position, in comparison to many countries, for coping with the global economic crisis,” said the Prime Minister. In Ansip’s words, the budget position of the government sector needs to be improved by 6 billion kroons in order to fit in the frame of 3 per cent budget deficit. The present coalition has been able to reach an agreement on an amount of no more than 3.4 billion kroons. “We cannot stop at that. We have to go on, to keep budget deficit below 3 per cent of GDP. This has to be done for the sake of credibility of state finances which affects the Estonian citizens’ home loan interest and the affordability and availability of the capital which is vitally necessary for undertakings,” noted Ansip. The Prime Minister stressed that no one has ever the right to set the preferences of a political party above the interests of the state and no one should use their position in the Government as a platform for election campaign. The Prime Minister asked the Riigikogu to support the proposed amendments to the budget submitted by the Government.
Deliberation of the matter of significant national importance “Innovation as a Locomotive for Economic Development” was held in the Riigikogu today.Reports were by Urmas Klaas, Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, Linnar Viik, Member of the Research and Development Council of Estonia and Juhan Parts, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications.
Urmas Klaas explained that, in view of the specificity of the Economic Affairs Committee and the global economic crisis, this issue had been focused to the context of economic development. Klaas noted that this year is a year of innovation in Estonia which means a year of new ideas, creative thinking and doing things differently. Klaas gave an overview of the eight parliamentary hearings which had been organised by the Economic Affairs Committee and a study on innovation which reveal that as few as 4 per cent of the Estonian people think that they can contribute significantly to the development of innovation. One third of the Estonian people are convinced that nothing depends on them in the sphere of innovation, 38 % of the people could not answer this question, 71 % of respondents are sure that the state has to spend more on the development of innovation and 45 % of respondents thought that innovation is profitable for all Estonian people and that it is excitingly attractive. In the opinion of the Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, the most important task of the year of innovation is to make people aware that everyone can participate in the innovation process. Klaas acknowledged that the parliamentary hearings of the Economic Affairs Committee raise an awareness that a great challenge of the near future in the field of innovation is the expanding of international dimension and an enhanced and much closer cooperation of science and enterprise. The future of the Estonian higher education and science depends, however, on inter-university cooperation.
In Linnar Viik’s words, innovation is the most influential source of the growth of the competitiveness and welfare of enterprises, organisations and states. In his opinion, prerequisites for innovation are, first of all, free movement of new ideas and knowledge, creation of a favourable ground for those ideas and supporting of the spreading of the implementations that are created. Viik touched upon the functioning of the innovation system as a whole and warned of a stagnating innovation system. He noted that we are living in a practice where our research institutions are required to produce new ideas and our enterprises are required to realise them. “There is also a parallel world where most of the new ideas which serve as an input for innovation emerge outside this formal innovation system and they are taken into use first of all in those enterprises which have not yet been established, and also in the non-profit sector, in social enterprise sphere, as a civil initiative in the world of transboundary relationships or perhaps in public sector,” found Viik. Viik stated that the proportion of the research and development expenditure in gross national product which at present is the indicator of stimulation of research and development activities is nowadays absolutely no guarantee that the financial contribution made is converted into a higher added value in economy or growth of welfare in the society. Viik stressed that more is needed – social and cultural values, an entrepreneur attitude in the best meaning of the term, that is, ambition and constant improvement of the existing reality. Viik also touched upon low productivity of innovation, measuring of the impacts of innovation, and social innovation.
Juhan Parts spoke about the challenges faced by Estonian enterprises, among which he mentioned as short-term challenges the maintaining of liquidity, optimisation of costs and access to capital, and, as long term challenges, focusing on more complex products and services for more demanding markets, creation of a change-oriented basis of knowledge and skills, internationalisation and export and, in conclusion, higher productivity. Parts also gave an overview of what has been undertaken in the sphere of innovation in Estonia in recent years, what the results have been and which course of action should be pursued to encourage innovation.
On behalf of factions, comments were presented by Members of the Riigikogu Marek Strandberg, Toomas Tõniste, Aivar Riisalu, Ester Tuiksoo, Hannes Astok and Urmas Klaas.
The Bill on Amendments to the Law of Property Act, the Aviation Act and the Code of Civil Procedure and Other Associated Acts (456 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 51 votes in favour. With the Act, the provisions which regulate encumbering of objects with a registered security over movables are amended and the gap in the Estonian law as regards establishing of the registered security over movables on aircraft is eliminated. As a result of the amendment, the regulation of the registered security over movables will be in better compliance with the provisions concerning mortgage than before and thereby legal order is clarified and implementation practice is harmonised. This Act enters into force on 1 October 2009 and § 7 of the Act enters into force on 1 July 2009. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.
The Bill on Amendments to the Hunting Act and Other Associated Acts (458 SE), initiated by the Environmental Committee, was passed with 70 votes in favour. The Hunting Act is amended by adding a new section which provides an organisation of hunting where the function of the state in the domain of hunting includes developing of hunting policy, exercise of supervision and organisation of hunting activities, hunting game surveillance and hunting grounds. The state will involve in hunting activities hunting organisations operating on private law basis. The requirement of the minimum amount of hunting grounds given to the disposal of the state is eliminated from the Hunting Act, the conditions for application for the permit in proof of the right to use a hunting district are specified and the right of the Minister of the Environment to delegate the organisational and executive functions related to hunting activities to the third sector is provided. The issues concerning hunting certificates and keeping of records thereon, and training in hunting are specified. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.
The Act on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act and Other Associated Acts (452 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 63 votes in favour. With the amendments, midwives are granted the right to provide midwifery care independently and the current restrictions on the activities of midwives are liquidated. The Act restores the right of midwives to independently issue prescriptions, administer medicines and prescribe treatment, as was formerly the case in Estonia. Essentially, the right of midwives to independently monitor the progress of pregnancy and the post-natal period is restored. Also, midwives are granted the right to issue the certificate for sick leave concerning taking of the maternity leave and temporary easement of working conditions (conditions of service) or transfer to another job (position) during pregnancy. This Act enters into force on 1 April 2010; clauses 1 1), 2), 6) and 7), clauses 3 1), 9)-12), 14)-15) and clause 6 2) enter into force on 1 July 2009. Clause 3 4) of the Act enters into force pursuant to general procedure. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.
The Family Law Act (55 SE), initiated by the Government, was not passed in the Riigikogu because it was not supported with the necessary majority vote of the members of the Riigikogu. 49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, nobody voted against and nobody abstained.
See the verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):
The Riigikogu Press Service