The Act ratifies the amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, made in Kigali in 2016. The scope of regulation of the Montreal Protocol will include hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), which are used mainly in conditioning appliances in the cooling and freezing sector, in aerosols, in fire extinguishing systems and in foam production. The major aim of the amendment is stepwise limitation of the use of HFC-s and thereby reduction of global climate warming.
The main aim of the Montreal Protocol is to limit the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, the final aim being to completely eliminate such substances from use.
The Kigali Amendment contains measures for reducing the HFC emissions and it helps implement the Paris Agreement as regards its objective to keep the global temperature increase well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. The Kigali amendment will enable to avoid a rise in global temperature by an estimated 0.5 degrees by the end of the 21th century. Thus the Kigali Amendment will have a significant positive impact on the natural and living environment.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the limitation of the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer has been a global aim for more than 30 years already. The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was concluded on 22 March 1985, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was concluded on 16 September 1987. Estonia acceded to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol by the Act passed on 11 September 1996. The Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol have 197 states parties. The main aim of the Vienna Convention is to protect human health and the natural environment against adverse effects relating to the depletion of the ozone layer.
The Kigali amendment was adopted at the 28th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 to 15 October 2016. The ratification of the amendments involves no need to amend the Estonian legislation because a relevant directly applicable Regulation regulates HFC-s in the EU. The amendment will bring about an increase in the contribution relating to the Montreal Protocol from the current 80 838 USD to an estimated up to 187 000 USD.
49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on the Ratification of the Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, made in Kigali in 2016 (528 SE), initiated by the Government. Four were against, and there was one abstention.
Three Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Support of Enterprise and State Loan Guarantees Act (523 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for increasing the permitted total amount or limit of guarantee contracts for the business and housing loans guaranteed by the state through Foundation KredEx, in order that the Foundation could continue to provide sureties for loans of businesses and home owners.
In the case of business loans, the permitted total amount of guarantee contracts will rise from 160 million euro to 220 million euro, and in the case of housing loans, from 96 million euro to 170 million euro. This will enable to continue to guarantee loans to the extent projected until 2022.
The raising of the limits will enable to provide sureties mainly for loans of small and medium sized enterprises to a larger number of enterprises to a larger extent. This will help establish enterprises, extend their activities, or make the working process more efficient and find new solutions. The amendment will also enable to continue to provide sureties for loans taken in order to acquire housing or improve living conditions.
The Road Transport Bill (488 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish a new consolidated text of the Road Transport Act because global amendments are made to the Act. The Act regulates the organisation of road transport and establishes the requirements for the persons organising road transport and for the related persons.
The Bill will eliminate the driver’s obligation to carry the documents certifying the right to engage in road transport in national transport operations. The driver will have to carry an identity document in order that it would be possible to verify the data in the database, and the accompanying documents of goods may be electronic in the future.
The Bill will increase the liability of the carrier. The carrier organises its carriage operations through drivers, and therefore road transport infringements for which a driver has been punished can be considered infringements by the carrier. The amendments will help ensure traffic and carriage safety as the carrier will be directly liable for infringements committed in the carriage of goods organised by the carrier.
The Bill will create misdemeanour liability of the consignor. At present, the driver or the carrier is liable for infringements of carriage requirements by the consignor in terms of misdemeanour procedure. According to the Bill, the consignor of goods may also be held liable for infringement of the requirements for filling in the accompanying documents of goods and placing and fastening goods on the vehicle and covering them.
If a driver has repeatedly not paid the fines imposed for serious road transport infringements and has committed a new serious road transport infringement, the police may apply for detention of a driver. According to the explanatory memorandum of the Bill, this amendment is important particularly with regard to drivers from foreign countries who fail to pay fines in a large number of cases and to whom the enforcement procedure does not apply.
The educational institutions organising the occupational and in-service training of drivers will no longer have the obligation to apply for an activity licence for training drivers of power-driven vehicles issued by the Ministry of Education and Research. A periodic (after every five years) obligation of in-service training will be established for lecturers of such educational institutions.
The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol Act and the Advertising Act (381 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the provisions of the Alcohol Act regulating the sale of alcohol, presentations of alcoholic products, and the ascertainment of the age of the buyer upon sale of alcohol. The Act will be amended by adding provisions that will 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 Bill will amend the provisions of the Advertising Act restricting the content of alcohol advertisements, amend the list of places where alcohol advertisements will be prohibited, and specify the provisions that restrict the advertising of alcoholic beverages with a favourable price, and the advertising requirements for health warnings.
The purpose of the Bill 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.
Several motions to amend the Bill had been submitted. An amendment provides that alcoholic beverages will have to be placed separately from other goods in shops, and so that consumers would not inevitably have to come into contact with them when shopping. 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 the cases 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, and to reduce acquisition of alcoholic beverages as an ‘emotional purchase’.
An amendment was introduced in the Bill according to which local governments will 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 is planned to be amended so that only product-centered and neutral information on the essential characteristics of the product will be 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.
During the debate, Heljo Pikhof from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Toomas Kivimägi from the Reform Party Faction, Erki Savisaar from the Centre Party Faction, Urmas Kruuse from the Reform Party Faction, Jürgen Ligi from the Reform Party Faction, Andres Herkel from the Free Party Faction, Henn Põlluaas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, Tarmo Kruusimäe from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, Toomas Jürgenstein from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Valdo Randpere from the Reform Party Faction, Laine Randjärv from the Reform Party Faction, Mart Helme from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, Peeter Ernits from the Centre Party Faction and Aivar Kokk from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction took the floor and presented their positions.
The Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 27 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 42 were against. The motion was not supported. The second reading was concluded.
The deliberation of a Bill was adjourned in the Riigikogu due to the end of the working hours of the plenary sitting:
The Bill on Amendments to the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act (532 SE), initiated by the Government, will bring the relevant Chapter of the Aviation Act into conformity with the EU Regulation that regulates both commercial and non-commercial air operations. Up to now, only commercial air transport has been regulated at the EU level. In the amendment of the Aviation Act, account has also been taken of the need to bring the Aviation Act into conformity with the relevant EU Regulation that regulates the issues relating to the qualifications and licences of aviation personnel.
Due to the end of the working hours of the plenary, the first reading of two Bills was postponed to the agenda for Wednesday’s plenary sitting:
The Bill on Amendments to the Liquid Fuel Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (536 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the Liquid Fuel Act, and in connection with that, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Taxation Act.
The aim of the Bill is to reduce tax evasions, to promote electronic records management, to reduce the circulation of low-quality fuel and to improve the competition conditions in the fuel sector.
The Bill will improve the electronic records management between the Tax and Customs Board, fuel sellers and warehouse keepers.
The Bill will create a legal basis for the establishment of the fuel handling system. It was pointed out at the sitting that that would enable the data of the sales transactions concerning liquid fuel released for consumption to be administered in real time, and the supervision of the handling of fuel to be merged into an electronic environment. This way, an overview of the movement of fuel through different purchase and sale chains will be ensured, and sellers of fuel will no longer need to submit reports concerning liquid fuel to the Tax and Customs Board.
At the same time, a legal basis for the establishment of the storage accounts and reporting database will be created. The aim of the database is to make the data of warehouse operations involving fuel available in real time to the Tax and Customs Board. This will enable the Board to exercise more operational and efficient supervision over the movement of goods both in single warehouses and across warehouses.
The Bill provides for a restriction according to which, as a general rule, fuel can be sold in a quantity that is covered by a security. This will preclude a situation where a seller of fuel could cause unlimited VAT damage to the state. A seller of fuel will retain the entitlement to request reduction of the security presented to the extent of up to 90 per cent of the amount of the security if the seller has operated under an authorisation for the sale of fuel for at least half a year, and the seller and the members of the seller’s management or controlling body have no tax arrears.
The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and Other Acts (559 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction.
The Bill will reduce by half the excise duty rise planned for 2018 for beer, other alcohol, and wine and fermented beverages with an ethanol content of up to 6 per cent by volume. The rises in alcohol excise duty for 2019 and 2020 will be preserved to the same extent, which is 10 per cent, and 20 per cent in the case of wine and fermented beverages with an ethanol content exceeding of 6 per cent by volume.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201712121000
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.)
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