The Riigikogu passed twelve Acts and a Resolution.
The Act on Amendments to the State Fees Act, the Code of Civil Procedure and Other Acts (206 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to correct the current state fee rates, to simplify the system of calculation of state fees, and to encourage the use of the public e-file information system intended for parties to proceedings. It also brings the level of the Estonian state fees depending on the value of an action closer to the average of reference countries. According to an assessment provided in an analysis of the Ministry of Justice, the Estonian state fees are 334.93% higher on the average in comparison with other European Union countries. This Act enters into force in general part on 1 January 2013; § 7 of the Act enters into force pursuant to general procedure and some sections enter into force on 1 July 2012.
The Act on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Other Associated Acts (175 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 73 votes in favour. The aim of the Act is to update the regulation of surveillance and to bring it into conformity with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the practice of the court, as well as with the Constitution. As compared to the current law, tighter requirements for conducting surveillance activities are established, and the acts which are not surveillance activities in their essence are excluded from the range of surveillance activities. According to the amendments, upon notification of a person of the surveillance activities conducted with regard to him or her, the procedure for appeal must also be explained to the person.
The Anti-corruption Act (192 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 68 votes in favour. The aim of the new Act is to increase the transparency of public administration, to prevent corruption of higher officials, to improve the reliability of the system of publication of the interests of officials, and to reduce the administrative burden. The Act establishes a new electronic register of declarations of interests and determines officials who have to submit their information to the register, and persons who have the right to check the information in the register. It also defines officials whose declarations are public. In order to view the public data of a declaration, a person has to identify himself or herself by a digital identity card. The register of declarations of interests is planned to be implemented from 1 January 2014. In addition, the Act extends the range of officials who may be requested to submit a declaration. The Act is based on the principle that official position comprises the cases when, upon performance of public duties, a person’s competence includes activities which enable to create advantages for himself or herself or to grant them to another person, and, consequently, there is at least an abstract risk that the person may misuse his or her competence. As a significant amendment, the new Act also reduces the restrictions on the activities of officials, allowing officials to engage in any other activities outside their official duties if this is not prohibited by law, and procedural restrictions are observed. So an official is allowed to act as an undertaking or general partner in a general or limited partnership, as a member of the management or controlling body of a legal person, in an elected or appointed office, as well as on the basis of a contract of employment or a contract for the provision of a service. The Act enters into force on 1 April 2013 and some provisions enter into force on 1 January 2014.
The Act on Amendments to the Police and Border Guard Act and the Maritime Safety Act (158 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 81 votes in favour. The Police and Border Guard Act is amended by adding a new chapter which provides the legal bases of the activities of voluntary sea rescuers in order to involve them in the activities of the police in carrying out search and rescue work in inland and territorial sea waters, on Lake Peipus, Lake Lämmijärv, Lake Pskov or another transboundary water body upon search and rescue of a person, vessel, aircraft or vehicle in danger or gone missing. The amendments regulate the general principles, competence, organisation of work, and training of voluntary sea rescuers, and the measures applied by them; the recognition, benefits and guarantees of a voluntary sea rescuer; the requirements for voluntary sea rescuers; and the release from the status of voluntary sea rescuer. The Act enters into force on 1 September 2012.
The Act on Amendments to the Research and Development Organisation Act and Other Acts (162 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 80 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments provide specifications which allow to enter into a contract of employment with a Doctoral candidate in order to enable him or her to work in the position of a junior research fellow; reasonable specifications arising from the particularity of the employment relationship of Doctoral candidates are provided in the Universities Act, in comparison to the Employment Contracts Act, and amendments are added to the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act. The Act enters into force on 1 July 2012.
The Act on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and Other Associated Acts (139 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 54 votes in favour. The amendments harmonise the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity, and some parts of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. The market participants are informed of the full opening of electricity market in 2013. According to one amendment, the term for the cancellation of a contract for the use of the network connection is extended to ninety days in the period 1 October until 30 April for all customers who are natural persons whose household’s heating system would not function without electricity. This should be a reasonable period to find a solution (in analogy with the District Heating Act). At present, the term of 30 days applies to the customers for whom electricity is not the main heating source. A consumer has an obligation to inform the network operator of this fact so that the operator can take this into account. The Act enters into force, in regard to different provisions, on 1 July 2012, 1 January 2013 and 1 March 2013, and § 2 enters into force on 1 January 2014. 27 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and 2 members of the Riigikogu abstained.
The Act on Amendments to the State Fees Act and the Public Transport Act (203 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 84 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to specify and update the regulation of the State Fees Act, including the procedure for the payment of the state fee for changing of time tables and the requirements for exemption from the state fee. At the same time, the state fee rate charged for the issue of transit registration plates is lowered, all acts relating to type approval are consolidated into one section, the state fee rate charged for the documentation of the amendments of register data concerning mopeds is established, the state fee for the issue of a registration certificate is reduced if it certifies full compliance with roadworthiness requirements, definitions are harmonised with the new Traffic Act and the regulation relating to the obtaining of data from the traffic register is changed.
The Act on Amendments to the Competition Act (195 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 84 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to regulate this sphere more specifically in order to organise the granting of state aid more effectively, and to harmonise the definitions used in the Competition Act with those used in the European Commission legislation concerning state aid.
The Act on Amendments to the Natural Gas Act (166 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 52 votes in favour. With a view to increasing Estonia’s energy security and promoting competition in the gas market, this Act provides for ownership separation of gas transmission networks from production and commercial activities which in turn should also ensure a more favourable price for end-users of gas. The Natural Gas Act is brought into conformity with the directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas. According to the amendments, the enterprise AS Eesti Gaas which is in a monopoly position will have to sell the gas transmission networks by 1 January 2015 at the latest to a company whose owners do not include gas producers or sellers with a dominant influence. The Act provides for application of a penalty payment in the case when the system operator fails to perform the duty imposed on it by law to make an ownership separation of the gas transmission network from the seller of gas. According to the amendments, upon failure to comply with the precept, a penalty payment may be applied with regard to the system operator with an upper limit of 1.2 million euro per calendar year; however, it may not exceed 10% of the year’s turnover of the last audited year. It will be possible to impose penalty payment as of 1 January 2015 which will leave ample time for the network owner to transfer the network. In addition to the above, the conditions on the basis of which the value of the transmission networks and the amounts of network charges would be calculated were specified. 28 members of the Riigikogu voted against the Act and 5 members of the Riigikogu abstained.
The Act on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act, the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act and the Establishment of Cause of Death Act (188 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to ensure better availability of primary health care services and better service quality. The amendments concern the provisions on general medical care in the Health Care Services Organisation Act which centralise the function of organising primary health care to the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The functions of the organisation of general medical care such as the organisation of the competition for the compilation of the practice list of a family physician, the approving of the practice lists of family physicians, the temporary substitution of family physicians, and supervision, which so far were the duties of a county governor, are transferred to the Health Board. In addition, the maximum numbers of persons on the practice lists of family physicians which at present are regulated by a Regulation of the Minister are brought to the level of law. The Act determines that, as a general rule, the maximum number of persons on the practice list of a family physician is 1200‒2000 persons or up to 2400 persons if, together with the family physician, at least one health care professional qualified as a doctor provides general medical care to persons entered on the list. The third important sphere is the transferring of the functions related to the collection of health statistics to the competence of the National Institute for Health Development. The health statistics is transferred with the aim of increasing the efficiency and speed of the submission of reports and correction of data by elimination of an intermediate link of data transfer. The information will be submitted directly to the National Institute for Health Development who will give feedback directly to the service provider, that is, to the entity which submits the data. The Act enters into force in general part on 1 January 2013. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Act.
The Act on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act and the State Pension Insurance Act and Other Associated Acts (213 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 58 votes in favour. The wider aim of the amendments is to support the increasing of the birth rate by implementation of the parental pension. This Act provides for the making of a supplementary funded pension contribution related to raising a child and the payment of a pension supplement on the basis of the provisions of the State Pension Insurance Act with the aim of compensating for the potential reduction of pension of the parent in the future as a result of raising a child. According to the Act, the state will pay 4% on the national average remuneration subject to social tax to the second pillar pension of the parent to one parent of a child born on 1 January 2013 or later for raising the child, until the child attains three years of age. The state will also pay a pension supplement in the amount of the value of two years of pensionable service to one parent of a child born during the period 1 January 1991 to 31 December 2012 with a view to ensuring solidarity between generations, and, as of 1 January 2015, an additional pension supplement in the amount of the value of one year of pensionable service to one parent of a child born before 1 January 2013. The Act enters into force on 1 January 2013; clauses 2 5) and 10) enter into force on 1 January 2015. Three members of the Riigikogu abstained in the voting.
The Resolution “Grant of Consent to Increasing the Quota of the Republic of Estonia in the International Monetary Fund” (230 OE) was passed with 55 votes in favour. The Resolution increases the quota of the Republic of Estonia in the International Monetary Fund by 149 700 000 SDR, that is, by circa 175 billion euro. The quota is increased on the basis of the Resolution No 66-2 of the Board of Governors of the IMF adopted on 15 December 2010 which in the light of the current financial crisis proposes to double the total quotas of IMF and to redistribute the quota by shifting more than 6 percent of quota shares to under-represented countries and to dynamic emerging market and developing countries. The Resolution authorises Eesti Pank to perform the relevant acts necessary to increase this quota. One member of the Riigikogu voted against the Resolution.
The Act on Approval of Amendment of the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund (231 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 57 votes in favour. The Act approves amendments to the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arising from the Resolution of the Board of Governors of the IMF adopted on 15 December 2010 which contains proposals on the fourteenth general review of quotas and the reform of the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund, leading to amendment of the Articles of Agreement of the IMF.
The second reading of eight Bills was concluded.
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Public Service Bill (193 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to update public service in Estonia and to establish a new definition of an official, as a result of which the range of officials will be reduced. The Bill is intended to establish a simple, clear and effective system of assessment of officials, and a transparent and fair salary system which takes into account the labour market and the responsibility and competitiveness of a person. Also, the Bill reduces the social guarantees of officials: during a four-year transition period, the additional holiday of officials will be eliminated and the duration of the holiday is established to be 35 calendar days. At the same time, the terms for advance notice in the case of lay-offs are reduced. The Bill determines that the Ministry of Finance will be the institution responsible for public service. The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of this Bill. 12 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 48 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Securities Market Act (220 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill specifies the procedure for the preparation and disclosure of security prospectuses and reduces the administrative burden for securities issuers and brokers upon the preparation of prospectuses. At the same time, the protection of investors is increased by ensuring that the information presented in prospectuses is sufficient and meets above all the needs of common investors (retail investors). The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Liquid Fuel Act (228 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to bring the Liquid Fuel Act into conformity with the recommendations arising from the Supreme Court decision on the basis of which the bases for reducing the security are regulated in more detail in order to simplify the activities of the Tax and Customs Board, to facilitate the inspection of its activities and to reduce the number of potential complaints. The bases and criteria similar to those which regulate the increasing of the security should be established also for reducing the security. The Bill additionally provides as criteria in deciding on the reduction of the security the capability of the person as a member of the management or controlling body, that is, the competence to operate in the field of fuel handling, as well as the previous experience in engaging in enterprise and the investments made by the undertaking in the field of fuel handling. The Bill also reduces the possibility that a security of less than 100 000 euro is granted to an undertaking who wishes to operate in the area of fuel sale who uses a “dummy” as the representative person and who lacks the knowledge and previous experience in fuel handling. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act (205 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the amendments is to ensure the availability of the state guaranteed and financed national stock of antidotes needed for the treatment of poisonings, and the central management thereof, in order to reduce the number of deaths due to injury caused by poisoning. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 50² of the Health Care Services Organisation Act (198 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to provide additional rights to the expert committee on the quality of healthcare so that the committee would be capable of processing the applications submitted to the committee efficiently and legitimately in the changed circumstances. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Administrative Cooperation Act and the Sports Act (200 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the amendments is to ensure the processing of the data of the sports database and the hosting of the database with the highest possible quality and efficiency by allowing the functions of the authorised processor to be transferred to a legal person in private law established with the participation of the state who has a long experience of collecting, processing and administrating sports data. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act (224 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the amendments is to strengthen pharmacovigilance and to rationalise the system of the supervision of the safety of medicinal products for human use, to better protect public health, to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and to simplify the current rules and procedures. The roles and obligations of holders of marketing authorisations for medicinal products, member states and their competent authorities and the European Medicines Agency in the fulfilment of these aims are also specified. The initiator stated that an estimated 5% of all cases of hospitalisation are caused by adverse reactions of medicinal products, and adverse reactions of medicinal products take the fifth place among the most widespread causes of death of hospital patients. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Emergency Act (204 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to ensure the consistent functioning of vital services in a situation where the information systems ensuring the service which are located in foreign countries do not function and/or the electronic communications service with foreign countries has been interrupted. Services which are necessary for the organisation of vital social acts, health care, security, safety and the economic and social welfare of people are considered to be vital services. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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