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The Riigikogu passed with 67 votes in favour (1 abstention) the Act on Amendments to the Deliberate Release into Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms Act (768 SE), initiated by the Government, which brings the Act which is currently in force into conformity with the requirements arising from the European Union legislation and harmonises the legal space of this sphere. It also improves legal clarity in spheres relating to the use of genetically modified organisms. The Directive emphasises that Member States may not prohibit, restrict or impede the placing on the market of approved GMOs and calls Member States to adopt appropriate measures at national level in order to prevent mixing of genetically modified and non-genetically modified agricultural cultivars.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Income Tax Act and Associated Acts (723 SE & 631 SE), initiated by the Government and the Estonian People’s Union Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction. The Bill specifies the procedure for taxation of share options. According to the Bill, share options are not taxed at the moment of granting and a share option is not deemed to be a fringe benefit if it is realised after three years have passed from granting of the option. This consolidated Bill also provides uniformly interpretable rules for transfer of the enterprise belonging to a sole proprietor exempt from income tax.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of nine Bills:
The Language Bill (808 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the requirement of use of Estonian in outdoor advertising, including political outdoor advertising. The Bill provides that signs installed to a public place, labels, names of category of enterprises and outdoor advertisements, including outdoor advertisements installed for the purposes of political agitation, have to be in Estonian. As regards the use of language in the press, media undertakings have to follow good practice of the use of language in their publications, web pages and television and radio programmes.
The Bill on Amendments to the Support of Enterprise and State Loan Guarantees Act (811 SE), initiated by the Government, increases the maximum amount of loan guarantees for business loans by 500 million kroons. The Bill also extends the circle of recipients of the guarantee.
The Bill on Amendments to the Fishing Act (798 SE), initiated by the Government, provides the amendments to the Fishing Act that are necessary for implementation of the relevant European Union regulation. It aims to avoid, prevent and terminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The Bill specifies the list of fishing gear used upon recreational fishing and electronic issuing of the fishing card for recreational fishing.
The Bill on Amendments to the State Budget of 2010 Act (812 SE), initiated by the Government, introduces amendments to the budgets of the State Chancellery, ministries, their divisions, and other constitutional institutions. As the initiator asserted, this will not affect the volume of the state budget.
The Bill on Approval of Amendment of the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund (819 SE), initiated by the Government. Amendments of the Articles of Agreement of the IMF are part of the quota and voting right reform which aims to ensure better representation and stronger voting right in the IMF for states with dynamically developed economy, including Estonia.
The Bill on Ratification of the Convention between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income (801 SE), initiated by the Government. The Convention regulates the division of the taxation right between the states and provides avoidance of discriminatory taxation and the obligation to prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
The Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act (802 SE), initiated by the Government, improves the efficiency of tax proceedings and reduces the administrative burden for tax authorities as well as for taxable persons. A ceiling is established for amounts of interest and, as a result of that, interests will never exceed the principal debt.
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Financial Supervision Authority Act, the Credit Institutions Act and the Guarantee Fund Act (810 SE), initiated by the Government, is to increase the operativeness and efficiency of exercise of financial supervision in a crisis situation. Accordingly, for example, it eliminates the unreasonable restrictions provided in the law which is currently in force which do not enable the Financial Supervision Authority to obtain necessary information from the subjects of financial supervision pursuant to the expedited procedure in so-to-say risk or crisis situations. It also provides as a significant amendment the possibility for the state to consider, upon existence of specific grounds, expropriation of a credit institution if this is necessary for securing financial stability. That, however, only in the case when this aim cannot be achieved by application of other relevant measures. The maximum amount of deposit guarantee is increased to 100 000 euro instead of the current 50 000 euro per depositor in a credit institution. This new maximum limit will apply as of the beginning of 2011.
The Bill on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act (740 SE), initiated by the Government, transposes the amendments to the Council of the European Union directive on value added tax and provides the special procedure for cash basis value added tax accounting in the Value Added Tax Act. The amendments concern determining of the location of turnover of the natural gas and electricity and heating and cooling energy. The Bill extends the option of the special procedure for cash basis value added tax accounting to all persons liable to value added tax whose annual turnover does not exceed 200 000 euro. According to the Act which is currently in force, only sole proprietors have the right to opt for the special procedure for cash basis value added tax accounting. In order to prevent tax evasions, an obligation to apply reverse charge mechanism in case of immovables and metal waste is provided.
At Question Time, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered the question about price rise and increase of the cost of living in Estonia during the last three years, submitted by Maret Maripuu. The Minister of Finance Jürgen Ligi answered the question about the coming year’s state budget, submitted by Kadri Simson, and the question about the impact of the electricity excise duty and taxes on the rise of the electricity price, submitted by Lembit Kaljuvee. The Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas answered the question about supervision of students’ papers at institutions of higher education, submitted by Marek Strandberg, and the question about the financing of education, submitted by Mailis Reps.
The Riigikogu Press Service