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The Riigikogu passed an Act providing that, in order to take broadband connections to homes, businesses and authorities, the existing electricity poles and other infrastructures will be co-deployed with a view to installing communications network elements.

The Riigikogu passed with 76 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (270 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Andres Ammas, Henn Põlluaas, Andres Metsoja, Tanel Talve and Kristjan Kõljalg. This will ensure access to physical infrastructure suitable for deploying broadband networks, that is, electricity poles belonging to the electricity distribution network operator. The current Electricity Market Act does not provide for an obligation to grant use of the distribution network infrastructure.

According to the Act, a distribution network operator has the right to a refund of direct costs related to the provision of access to its physical infrastructure, in particular the costs of repairs and elimination of faults, from the owner of the optical cable network.

The Act enters into force on 1 March 2017.

Member of the Free Party Faction Artur Talvik, who took the floor during the debate, positively pointed out the cooperation between the opposition and the coalition in the proceedings on the Bill.

Tanel Talve, who spoke on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction, expressed a hope that the Act would make bringing of broadband Internet cable to homes and enterprises more favourable. Erki Savisaar from the Centre Party Faction also restated the idea that the amendment should bring down the price of the spreading of the Internet. Member of the Reform Party Faction Urmas Kruuse said that the passing of the Act shows that e-state as an image, content and perspective is extremely important to us.

Andres Metsoja, who spoke on behalf of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, said in summary, putting it simply, that with this amendment, the Internet will be taken up the electricity pole.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of five Bills:

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Identity Documents Act (323 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill will provide for the regulation concerning the suspension and revocation of the certificates entered in identity documents. So far, similar regulation was contained in the Digital Signatures Act which was repealed with the entry into force of the Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions Act.

The representative of the initiator of the Bill, the Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt presented the Bill initiated by the Government, and the aims of the Bill. The Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Ken-Marti Vaher, who took the floor on behalf of the lead committee, gave an overview of the discussions that had been held in the Committee.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act and the Electronic Communications Act (320 SE), initiated by the Government.

The representative of the initiator of the Bill, the Minister of Finance Sven Sester presented the Bill initiated by the Government, and the aims of the Bill. The Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who took the floor on behalf of the lead committee, gave an overview of the discussions that had been held in the Committee.

The Bill makes several amendments aiming at better tax behaviour of persons and more efficient tax collection. On the proposal of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the range of data subject to disclosure will be extended. So, persons liable to value added tax will have to set out the amount of value added tax declared on a quarterly basis, and the number of employees in the enterprise, on the website of the tax authority.

The Bill will increase the flexibility of the payment of tax arrears in instalments. So far it has been possible to pay tax arrears in instalments only if arrears exist. According to the amendment, in the future, it will be possible to apply for payment of tax arrears in advance if the taxpayer knows that he or she will not be able to meet a fixed-term payment obligation known to him or her.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Tax Information Exchange Act and the Taxation Act (322 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill will transpose two amendments to the Administrative Cooperation Directive and the relevant OECD model for the exchange of information which provides for the communication of the information on an advance ruling of a tax authority only to the country whom the ruling may concern.

The representative of the initiator of the Bill, the Minister of Finance Sven Sester presented the Bill initiated by the Government, and the aims of the Bill. The Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who took the floor on behalf of the lead committee, gave an overview of the discussions that had been held in the Committee.

The amendments will enable the tax authorities of different countries to exchange information on advance rulings and the annual reports of large groups of undertakings.

Information exchange between tax authorities increases transparency in taxation and helps combat aggressive tax planning. Tax authorities will have a wider picture of the tax behaviour of undertakings operating across borders, and policy shapers will get a better overview of potential points of conflict between different tax systems.

As of 2015, we exchange information automatically in the EU regarding the remunerations, pensions and real estate incomes of people, and the remunerations of members of management boards. Starting from autumn 2017, we will begin to exchange information globally on various financial resources that tax residents of other countries are keeping in our financial institutions. By today, analogous information exchange with the USA has been implemented.

A binding advance ruling of a tax authority is a confirmation of taxation of a certain transaction or series of transactions which is binding for the tax authority. Exchange of information on advance rulings will involve no additional obligations for undertakings and it will concern only tax authorities. Information will be exchanged with all EU Member States in regard to binding advance cross-border rulings that have been issued since 2012. Such advance rulings number 46 in total.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (location of legal person and its management board or the body substituting therefor) (347 SE), initiated by the Government.

The representative of the initiator of the Bill, the Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu presented the Bill initiated by the Government, and the aims of the Bill. Member of the Legal Affairs Committee Urve Tiidus, who took the floor on behalf of the lead committee, gave an overview of the discussion that had been held in the committee.

The Bill will create the possibility to manage Estonian enterprises from abroad. At present, both a company and the management board of an enterprise must be located in Estonia. In the case when a person wishes to manage an Estonian enterprise from abroad, the enterprise will have to appoint a contact person with the seat in Estonia who may be for example a notary, advocate or auditor.

Besides, the amendment will create additional possibilities for Estonian undertakings in particular for the activities of e-residents. The aim of the e-residency project is to facilitate for foreign undertakings the using of e-solutions offered in Estonia, including the establishment of legal persons and membership in the management bodies of such persons. At present, the registered office of an enterprise registered in Estonia must be in Estonia. A regulation will be established now that will enable the management of an enterprise across the border. Undertakings will have the obligation to submit their e-mail address to the commercial register. At present, the submission of the e-mail address is voluntary.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and Other Acts (356 SE), initiated by the Government. The aim of the Bill is to update the working conditions for minors and to allow for more flexible employment relationships. Therefore, according to the Bill, the restrictions concerning the working time of minors will be amended.

The representative of the initiator of the Bill, the Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski presented the Bill initiated by the Government, and the aims of the Bill. Member of the Legal Affairs Committee Barbi Pilvre, who took the floor on behalf of the lead committee, gave an overview of the discussion that had been held in the committee.

The amendments concern work which may be done by minors, the application for permission from the Labour Inspectorate for working as a minor, and the working time and daily rest time of minors. The amendments are connected with the Basic Principles of the Government Coalition for 2016–2019, according to which they will increase the opportunities of young people to participate in working life, including summer work camps, by creating additional motivation mechanisms for employers and by decreasing limitations imposed on youth employment. In addition, on the proposal of the Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the Bill provides for an exception for on-call time for specialists providing IT support services.

The explanation notes that, in the case of minors subject to compulsory schooling, in the future, working time during a quarter of an academic year and working time during a school holiday will be differentiated which is not provided for in the current law. Working time during a quarter of an academic year will be brought into conformity with the directive. Therefore, compared to the current law, according to the Bill, the working time during a quarter of an academic year will be restricted (2 hours a day and 12 hours a week) for minors subject to compulsory schooling. Under the current law, a minor subject to compulsory schooling may work for 3-4 hours a day and 15-20 hours a week, depending on his or her age. However, it will be possible to work significantly more during school holidays. For example, a 13-14-year-old or older minor subject to compulsory schooling will be allowed to work for up to 7 hours a day and 35 hours a week instead of the 4 hours a day and 20 hours a week provided for in the current law. However, in the case of a minor subject to compulsory schooling, the prohibition to work for more than a half of a school holiday will remain in force. A 7-12-year-old minor can still work for 3 hours a day and 15 hours a week during school holidays. At the same time, the specification for the working time of a 5-17-year-old minor not subject to compulsory schooling which enables to require a minor to work similarly to adults (8 hours a day and 40 hours a week) will be eliminated. Under the current law, a 15-year-old minor not subject to compulsory schooling may work for 6 hours a day and 30 hours a week, and a 16-year-old minor not subject to compulsory schooling, and a 17-years-old minor – 7 hours a day and 35 hours a week.

The Bill will also eliminate the types of work which may be done by 13-16-year-old minors established by a regulation of the Government of the Republic. The amendment will expand the possibility for minors to engage in various jobs and, in the future, an employment contract may be entered into with minors of that age for performing any light work suitable for their age and abilities. The Bill will eliminate the obligation to apply for permission from the Labour Inspectorate for entering into an employment contract with a 13-14-year-old minor. In the future, such an obligation will remain in force only upon employment of 7-12-year-old minors.

The Bill will make technical amendments to the Trade Unions Act, the Collective Agreements Act, the Employees’ Trustee Act, the Community-scale Involvement of Employees Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (links will be created with the Law Enforcement Act as regards supervision and application of special measures). Also, the upper limit for penalty payment provided for in in the Community-scale Involvement of Employees Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (3200 euro) is brought into conformity with the upper limit for penalty payment provided for in the Law Enforcement Act (9600 euro).

Külliki Kübarsepp from the Free Party Faction took the floor during the debate. She said that undertakings should be motivated to offer employment to young people, and encouraged young people to work.

The Riigikogu also continued deliberation of the Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure which strengthens parliamentary scrutiny (313 SE), initiated by the Free Party Faction, which had been adjourned due to the end of the working hours at yesterday’s sitting.

The Bill provided for expansion of the authority of the committees of investigation of the Riigikogu. The aim was to ensure that persons appear before the committee, and that documents and information are forwarded at the request of the committee.

The Constitutional Committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 54 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 13 were against. Thus the Bill was dropped from the proceedings.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201701181400

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

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
6316356; 515 3903
epp-mare.kukemelk@riigikogu.ee
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

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