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At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed the Act amending the Alcohol Act and the Advertising Act, and two Acts on the avoidance of double taxation with Japan and Kyrgyzstan.

The purpose of the Act on Amendments to the Alcohol Act and the Advertising Act is to protect public health, to reduce the social, economic and health damage arising from the consumption of alcohol, and to ensure children and young people a supporting environment in which to grow up and develop.

The Act amends the provisions of the Alcohol Act regulating the sale of alcohol, the presentations of alcoholic products, and the ascertainment of the age of the buyer upon sale of alcohol. The Act is amended by adding provisions that enable to enhance the exercise of state supervision and to verify compliance with the requirements of the Act with a transaction for the purpose of monitoring compliance, in order to ensure better observance of the requirement of prohibition of the sale of alcohol to minors and to enhance the fight against illegal sale of alcohol.

The Act amends the provisions of the Advertising Act restricting the content of alcohol advertisements, amends the list of places where alcohol advertisements are prohibited, and specifies the provisions that restrict the advertising of alcoholic beverages with a favourable price, and the advertising requirements for health warnings.

Several motions to amend the Act had been submitted. An amendment provides that alcoholic beverages must be placed separately from other goods in shops, and so that consumers would not inevitably have to come into contact with them. According to an amendment, a display of alcoholic beverages must not be noticeably visible from the rest of the sales area or outside the sales premises, except in a case where meeting these requirements is not reasonably practicable, taking into account the size of the sales area. The aim is to reduce the visibility of alcohol in public space and to enable minors and addicts to buy staple goods so that they do not have to necessarily come into contact with alcoholic beverages.

An amendment was introduced according to which, in justified cases, local governments have the right to regulate the retail sale of alcohol for consumption on the spot during night-time, throughout the whole local government or in a part of it.

The Advertising Act was amended so that only product-centered and neutral information on the essential characteristics of the product is allowed to be presented in alcohol advertisements. The aim of the amendment is to reduce the impact of alcohol advertisements in the shaping of the values and social norms prevalent in society, especially among minors.

Under the Act, the transitional period regarding the placing of alcoholic beverages separately from other goods and the restriction on the presentation thereof, and the amendments to the Advertising Act will last until 1 June 2018, and regarding the restriction on a display of alcoholic beverages, until 1 June 2019.

During the debate, Erki Savisaar from the Centre Party Faction, Toomas Kivimägi from the Reform Party Faction, Artur Talvik from the Free Party Faction, Henn Põlluaas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, Hardi Volmer from the Social Democratic Party Faction and Aivar Kokk from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction took the floor.

49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on Amendments to the Alcohol Act and the Advertising Act (381 SE) and 40 were against.

The Riigikogu passed two other Acts:

The Act on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income (537 SE), initiated by the Government.

The purpose of agreements for the avoidance of double taxation is to facilitate investments between Contracting States. As an international legal act, the Convention grants greater legal certainty to investors, as compared with a national legislative act, in regard to the elements of the tax system that are regulated by the Convention, because amendment of a bilateral international convention is generally more time-consuming than amendment of a national legislative act. For the achievement of this aim, the Convention imposes restrictions on income taxes which may be established to the residents of the other state by the state of the source of income, ensures equal treatment of persons and eliminates possible double taxation. The obligation of mutual exchange of information provided for in the Convention creates additional possibilities for prevention of tax evasions.

75 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on the Ratification of the Convention between the Republic of Estonia and Japan for the Elimination of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance and the Protocol thereto (549 SE), initiated by the Government.

The Act ratifies the Convention between the Republic of Estonia and Japan for the Elimination of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance and the Protocol thereto.

The convention for the elimination of double taxation creates preconditions and security for mutual investments and for free movement of people, goods and services. The convention distributes the taxation rights regarding different types of income between the two countries and provides for more favourable taxation rules than those in the national legislation. The convention creates the legal basis for the elimination of the international double taxation arising from the conjunction of the taxation systems of the two countries.

Differently from many conventions for the elimination of double taxation concluded earlier, the convention concluded with Japan restricts the granting of certain benefits arising from the convention with the aim to prevent treaty-shopping. The convention sets out a defined list of residents who are entitled to the benefits granted in respect of income from dividends and interest under the convention. They are for example an individual, a company whose shares are traded on a recognised stock exchange, a pension fund that meets certain requirements, or the Government.

According to the data of Eesti Pank, as at 31 March this year, the volume of Japanese direct investments in Estonia was 18.2 million euro, while the volume of Estonian direct investments in Japan was as small as 0.1 million euro.

78 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

One Bill passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:

Under the Bill on Amendments to the Private Schools Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (520 SE), initiated by the Government, starting from the entry into force of the Act, the private schools that meet the requirements will be able to apply for support for covering operating expenses from the state budget. The support will be calculated based on the number of pupils as at 10 November, and the average operating expenses of a pupil place of a general education school of the local government, the maximum amount being the annual limit established by the Government of the Republic.

According to the Bill, it will be possible for a general education school to apply for the activity support if the school has been operating for at least four years and an activity licence for at least one stage of study has been issued to it for an unspecified term, the school does not request a tuition fee, or the tuition fee per pupil per month on the average amounts to 25 per cent of the minimum remuneration rate, the profit gained from the activity of the school is invested in teaching and education activities, including in the study environment, the budget and the educational expenditure of the school are public, the school does not have tax arrears to the state, or the tax arrears are paid in instalments, and the local authority of the seat of the school has given consent to the allocation of the support for operating expenses to the school. Under the Bill, in justified cases, the Ministry of Education and Research will have the right to allocate the support also in the case when the local government has not given consent to the allocation of the support.

Within the context of activity support, the content of the tuition fee will be defined uniformly. The private schools will be granted a transitional period regarding the requirement of activity licence issued for an unspecified term and of four-year previous activity, the amount of the tuition fee and the existence of the consent of the local government.

During the debate, Jürgen Ligi and Liina Kersna from the Reform Party Faction, Toomas Jürgenstein from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Priit Sibul from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and Krista Aru from the Free Party Faction took the floor.

The Reform Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The result of voting: 30 members of the Riigikogu in favour and 42 against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the second reading of the Bill was concluded.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

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

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
Phone +372 631 6353, +372 510 6179
E-mail merilin.kruuse@riigikogu.ee
Questions press@riigikogu.ee

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