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At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu discussed the state budget strategy for 2019–2022 as a matter of significant national importance.

In his report, the Minister of Finance Toomas Tõniste said that a balanced state budget strategy contributed to the growth of the economy, population, security, cohesion and welfare so that the national debt burden would decrease and the financial matters of the state would be in good order also in the following four years. The Minister of Finance said that the Government had agreed on tax peace, and no new taxes would be established. “The rise in alcohol excise duty planned for the beginning of next year will be cancelled. Likewise, we cancelled the rise in the excise duty on diesel fuel that the previous Government had planned for the beginning of this year. The sugary drink tax and changes to the excise duty on packaging will also be cancelled,” Tõniste said.

The Chairman of the State Budget Control Select Committee Aivar Sõerd said that Estonia was very heavily dependent on foreign funds. In his words, the potential reduction in European Union subsidies in the next budget period should be discussed in the national budget strategy. Sõerd stated that at that moment the exact position of the European Commission on Estonia was not yet known, but the chapter discussing the reduction in the subsidies should be included in the budget strategy already. “And if later new information comes, this chapter can be amended every year as necessary,” Sõerd suggested.

In his report, the Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin pointed out that the members of the Riigikogu wished to have a greater say in budgetary matters. Stalnuhhin made a proposal that next year the national budget strategy could be discussed during the process of adoption of the budget for the current year. “This means that when ministers consult the committees of their fields and the Finance Committee, that is already the moment to speak about how they see the main points of not only next year, but also the next three or even four years – what their wishes regarding the state budget are,” the Chairman of the Finance Committee explained.

In his report, the Vice-Chair of the Fiscal Council Andrus Alber said that, in the opinion of the Fiscal Council, the aims of the national budget strategy were in conformity with the Act, but the measures planned therein may not bring additional revenue in the volume expected. “In particular, additional tax revenue that is expected from labour taxes, or additional dividend income may not be realised in such volume,” Alber said. He added that, in its assessment, the Fiscal Council had recommended the Government to draw up the budget for 2019 so that the budget would be in structural surplus and not simply balanced.

During the debate, Jürgen Ligi from the Reform Party Faction, Enn Meri from the Free Party Faction, Mihhail Stalnuhhin from the Centre Party Faction, Aivar Sõerd from the Reform Party Faction, Helir-Valdor Seeder from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and Liisa Oviir from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor.

The Riigikogu passed a Resolution:

The Riigikogu decided to appoint the Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin as the representative of Estonia to the Control Committee of the Nordic Investment Bank. 28 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of the Resolution (619 OE), eight were against, and there were five abstentions. Stalnuhhin goes on the Control Committee of the Nordic Investment Bank to replace the resigned member of the Riigikogu Remo Holsmer, and his term of office lasts from 1 June 2018 to 31 May 2020.

Three Bills passed the first reading:

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Flag Act (599 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, is to mention in the Act the title and the authors of the national anthem of Estonia, which is used as the musical signature on the raising of the national flag on the Tall Hermann Tower. Subsection 3 (2) of the Estonian Flag Act will be amended and worded as follows: “On the hoisting of the Estonian flag on the Pikk Hermann tower, the opening phrases of the national anthem of Estonia “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” [“My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy”] by Friedrich Pacius (lyrics by Johann Voldemar Jannsen) are used as a musical signature, and the musical signature used when the Estonian flag is lowered is the signature created on the basis of a fragment of “Mu isamaa on minu arm” [“My Fatherland Is My Love”] by Gustav Ernesaks (lyrics by Lydia Koidula).”.

During the debate, Toomas Jürgenstein from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Laine Randjärv from the Reform Party Faction and Marko Pomerants from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Road Transport Act (621 SE), initiated by the Economic Affairs Committee, will specify some provisions on the basis of European Union law. For example, the amendments will add a requirement under which undertakings engaged in transport in the European Union must ensure correct use, good technical condition and proper storage of their motor vehicles and their trailers. These obligations must also be performed upon the carriage of passengers for hire or reward. The regulation of good repute in the current Act will be amended by adding a reference to the necessary elements of a misdemeanour in the Traffic Act that regulate intentional corruption of the data of a digital tachographs or driver card.

The Bill on Amendments to the Trade Unions Act and the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act (604 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee, will provide for the possibility to also hold a legal person liable in the event of violation of obligations provided for in the Trade Unions Act and the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act. In current law there is no reference to the liability of legal person. Only a natural person who is an employer can be held liable.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Photos of the sitting.

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Kristi Sobak

Phone +372 631 6592, +372 5190 6975

E-mail [email protected]

Questions [email protected]