At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu approved the Act under which local governments will have the right to apply for a court to refer a child to a closed child care institution if it is impossible to help him or her in any other way and his or her behaviour is dangerous.
The Act makes the social rehabilitation service available for children with a substantial and diverse need for help. Psychologist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, creative therapist and special education teacher can offer the social rehabilitation service to a child. If necessary, in the future, the child will get help from the child protection system. The Act eliminates the juvenile committees operating at county governments and repeals the Juvenile Sanctions Act.
75 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (360 SE), initiated by the Government.
Six Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Permanently Inhabited Small Islands Act and the Earth’s Crust Act (493 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the bases for compiling the list of the permanently inhabited small islands. In addition to that, the obligation to organise transport services and the principles of supporting the small islands from the state budget will be amended.
Under the Bill, a small island belongs to the list of the permanently inhabited small islands if its area is less than 100 square kilometres and if at least five persons resided there during the previous calendar year (at least during six months of the year) according to the data of the population register. Under the Bill, the Government of the Republic will establish the list of the permanently inhabited small islands by a regulation. At present, the small islands are specified in the Act.
The Bill provides for the organisation of the transport service to small islands with different types of means of transport in accordance with the Public Transport Act. Under the current Act, at least one regular transport connection with the continent or nearest large island must be ensured. Under the Bill, the inhabitants’ need for movement, as well as justified manners of movement will have to be taken into account. For example, if it is not expedient to organise regular services, it will be possible to support the procurement of a small craft belonging to the small island. No amendments will be made to the other services specified in the current Act (for example, the emergency communication in the public use around the clock, the supply of electricity, as well as the issues relating to natural environment and earth’s crust).
The procedure for the funding for the covering of the supplementary expenses to ensure services for the inhabitants of the permanently inhabited small islands will also be amended. Under the Bill, the funds for supporting the small islands will be provided for in the equalisation fund of the annual state budget, instead of the current local authority support fund. The Bill will also make other minor amendments. A small island may also form a part of a city as an administrative unit, convening of the General Assembly will not be mandatory in island rural municipalities, and a local authority which includes small islands will plan the development of a small island or archipelago in its development plan or in a separate development plan for the small island or small islands.
Under the implementing provision of the Act, the Government of the Republic will establish the list of the small islands for the first time in 2018, and besides the small islands meeting the requirements specified in the Bill, the small islands currently specified in the Act will also be included in the list. The number of the inhabitants of the small islands in the scope of regulation of the Permanently Inhabited Small Islands Act is approximately 1700 according to the data of the population register.
The Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (512 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish an expansion of the revenue base of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund by stages, and the transition of the expenditure from the state budget to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund in connection with that.
Under the current regulation, the revenue base of health insurance is constituted from the share of the social tax transferred into the state health insurance funds which accounts for 13 per cent of the payments for working person. Also, according to the current regulation, the funding of the services transferred under this Bill is a state budget obligation. The services are funded by either the Ministry of Social Affairs or the Health Board.
The Bill will establish an expansion of the revenue base of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund by stages, and the transition of the expenditure from the state budget to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund in connection with that. On 23 April, within the framework of the negotiations on the state budget strategy for 2018–2021, the Government approved the expansion of the revenue base of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and decided to contribute 7 per cent to its budget in 2018, 10 per cent in 2019, 11 per cent in 2020, 12 per cent in 2021 and 13 per cent in 2022 per pension of a non-working old-age pensioner.
During the debate, Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction and Helmen Kütt from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor.
The Bill on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (514 SE), initiated by the Government, provides that the costs on medicinal products incurred by people with an increased treatment need will be compensated to them to a greater extent. This will improve the availability of medicinal products for people who incur high costs on medicinal products.
Heljo Pikhof from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and the Repeal of the State Funeral Benefits Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (490 SE), initiated by the Government, will make the regulation concerning the subsistence benefit more flexible and facilitate the employment of persons who receive the subsistence benefit.
The amendments will eliminate the needs-based family benefit. To facilitate re-employment, a two-month transitional period will be provided for, in which the subsistence benefit will be paid to the person in the former amount. In the following four months, a half of the remuneration will be excluded from the incomes when calculating the subsistence benefit. This will increase the total income of a person who re-enters employment.
Under the new regulation, remuneration earned by students who are minors will also not be included in the income of the household when calculating a subsistence benefit. This will create more flexible conditions for students to work for example during school holidays.
Under the Bill, the funeral benefit will be restored and, to pay it, funds will be assigned to local governments through the support fund. The funds will be allocated based on the principle that, on the average, 250 euro would be paid as a benefit in the event of death. Local governments will establish the conditions and procedure for compensating the costs relating to the organisation of funerals, that is, they will decide to whom and in what amount the funeral benefit will be paid. Local governments may use the funds allocated from the state budget also to cover the costs relating to funerals organised by local governments.
Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction, Marika Tuus-Laul from the Centre Party Faction and Krista Aru from the Free Party Faction the floor during the debate.
Under the Bill on Amendments to the Family Benefits Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (517 SE), initiated by the Government, fathers will have the possibility to take paternity leave for 30 days instead of the current ten working days. A month that is intended for fathers will be added to the 18-month parental benefit period. The benefit will not be reduced if the income from work does not exceed a half of the maximum limit of the parental benefit, that is, 1544 euro per month in 2018. If a person earns more, a benefit to the extent of the parental benefit will always be ensured, which will be 470 euro next year. Also, parents will be able to decide for themselves if and how they wish to suspend and resume receiving the parental benefit in the first three years of their child’s life. The parental benefit will be calculated according to the 12 months preceding the pregnancy. Under the Bill, the allowance for triplets or higher order multiples will also be established, which will be 1000 euro per month for one parent until the children attain the age of 18 months.
Liisa Oviir from the Social Democratic Party took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Persons Repressed by Occupying Powers Act and the Social Welfare Act (518 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for raising the repressed person’s allowance from 192 euro to 230 euro. A 230-euro social benefit will also be provided for for persons who were sent by force from Estonia to the nuclear disaster area to liquidate the consequences of the disaster.
During the debate, Henn Põlluaas from the Conservative People’s Party Faction, Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction, Dmitri Dmitrijev from the Centre Party Faction, Helmen Kütt from the Social Democratic Party Faction and Aivar Kokk from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction took the floor.
The sitting ended at 6.44 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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