At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu rejected the Bill the aim of which was to repeal the rises in alcohol excise duty adopted at the end of 2016, and the changes made to those excise duties at the beginning of 2018, and to lower the excise duty rates for low-alcohol beverages to the level of February 2017.
In the explanatory memorandum, the initiators of the Bill pointed out that, also in their opinion, the excise taxes were an effective method in reducing the consumption of goods with harmful side-effects. At the same time, the initiators of the Bill say that the business in border areas and the use of alternative substances has increased, and the producers, the trade and the tax receipt in Estonia have suffered damages because of the fast raising of the excise duty rates for low-alcohol beverages. According to the explanatory memorandum, the aim of the Bill was to reduce the business in border areas, to avoid a significant decrease in tax revenues, to improve the competitiveness of enterprises, and to take into account the aspect relating to public health.
Representative of the initiators of the Bill Aivar Sõerd pointed out the recent spring forecast of the Ministry of Finance, according to which the business in border areas was expected to grow. In his words, there is no reason to think that the situation would resolve by itself.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin gave an overview of the discussions that had been held at the committee sittings. He noted that, as a result of the discussions, the committee had decided to not to support the Bill.
During the debate, Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party) and Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Centre Party) took the floor.
The lead committee moved to reject at the first reading the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act, the Social Tax Act and Other Acts (587 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction. 42 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 27 were against. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu