The Act on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2020 (171 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for the budget necessary to implement the economic measures related to the spread of the coronavirus. The aim of the measures is to mitigate damages, to stimulate the economy and to accelerate the exit from the crisis.
After the adoption of the supplementary budget for 2020, the expenditure of the state budget for 2020 totals 11.83 billion euro, investments amount to 0.42 billion euro, revenue amounts to 10.2 billion euro, and financing transactions amount to 1.83 billion euro.
With the supplementary budget, in view of the measures, revenue will decrease by 1.63 billion compared with this year’s budget. In the measures approved, the state budget revenue will be affected in particular by reductions in the excise duties on diesel, gas and electricity, as well as a reduction in the interest rate upon payment of tax arrears in instalments, and a temporary suspension of the interest calculation.
With the supplementary budget, expenditure will increase by a total of 118 million euro, investments by 10 million euro and financing transactions by 2.12 billion euro. The measures will have an impact of 513 million on the state budget’s expenditure. In addition to the measures, the calculation of the position also includes an increase of the reserve of the Government of the Republic by 150 million euro, and the establishment of a targeted reserve of 80 million euro to cover the costs of COVID-19.
In the drafting of the supplementary budget, the changed economic environment has been considered. It also takes into account the changes in the receipt of tax revenues in view of the new spring economic forecast (the expenses directly related to tax revenue under special Acts have also been adjusted accordingly) and the measure package. The non-tax revenue projections and the budgets of calculated expenditure have also been re-assessed and they have been specified with the supplementary budget. The supplementary budget describes the procedure for the implementation of various measures of the aid package, and the funds to be allocated.
During the debate, Kaja Kallas (Reform Party), Kersti Sarapuu (Centre Party), Indrek Saar (Social Democratic Party) and Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa) took the floor.
55 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2020 (171 SE) and ten were against.
The Riigikogu passed two other Acts
The Act on Amendments to the Acts relating to the Act on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2020 (measures related to the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease) (169 SE), initiated by the Government, consolidates amendments to the special Acts that have an impact on the supplementary budget. That is, they contain bases or rates for financial calculations and they need to be amended for adoption of the supplementary budget and implementation of the measures.
On the proposal of the Finance Committee, the requirement was included in the Act under which general conditions would need to be established for the support measures by a Regulation of the Government, and ministers would have to be guided by it in the provision and implementation of sectoral support programmes and emergency situation measures. Upon the implementation of the extensive package of measures at the level of executive power, the Riigikogu wishes to strengthen parliamentary control over the activities of the Government and ministers.
In connection with special measures being put in place and the supplementary budget, the Finance Committee decided that, before a Regulation on the general conditions of the support measures put in place due to emergency situation was signed, the Government would need to present it to the Finance Committee. Regulations on emergency situation measures concerning the social sphere need to be presented in the Social Affairs Committee before they are signed. The Government gives an overview of the implementation and costs of emergency situation measures to the Finance Committee at least once a month.
The Act amends the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act, the Support of Enterprise and State Loan Guarantees Act, the Estonian Defence League Act, the Environmental Charges Act, the Funded Pensions Act, the Value-Added Tax Act, the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act, the Taxation Act, the Maritime Safety Act, the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, the Health Insurance Act, the State Budget Act, the State Assets Act, the State Pension Insurance Act, the Social Welfare Act, the Social Tax Act, the Health Services Organisation Act, the Income Tax Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Work Ability Allowance Act.
During the debate, Maris Lauri (Reform Party), Dmitri Dmitrijev (Centre Party) and Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) took the floor.
55 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act and 9 were against.
The amendments proposed in the Act on Amendments to the Rescue Act and the Weapons Act (128 SE), initiated by the Government, are linked to the launch of the crisis information service, the involvement of volunteer rescuers, the tasks of the Rescue Board, and the specification of the Weapons Act.
The provisions of the Act value the role of volunteer rescuers. The social guarantees in place for volunteer rescuers engaged in rescue work are also extended to volunteer rescuers engaged in prevention work. In addition, the five-year validity period of the medical certificate of rescuer is eliminated. In the future, family physicians will be able to determine the validity period on the basis of the person’s health indicators.
The amendment creates a legal basis for the Rescue Board to process the causes of fires, and legal clarity about the content and activities of prevention work. In addition, the requirements for marking the locations for blasting explosives upon explosive ordnance disposal are established, and the supply of food and drinking water to all people engaged in rescue work is ensured.
Under the Act, the Weapons Act is also specified, and explosive ordnance specialists of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre of the Rescue Board are granted the right to carry and use firearms for self-defence.
The classification of weapons is also specified. It is provided that the data of the weapons belonging to weapons collections of museums do not need to be entered in the Register of Service and Civilian Weapons. The requirement that a person may acquire, own and possess a sporting firearm only if he or she is a member of a shooting sports club is restored.
The Act amends the tasks of the Emergency Response Centre, that is, the processing of help and information notifications through provision of the crisis information service. The Emergency Response Centre may involve volunteers in the provision of the crisis information service.
During the debate, Kaja Kallas (Reform Party), Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party) and Kaido Höövelson (Centre Party) took the floor.
52 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act and ten were against.
One Bill passed the second reading
The Bill on Amendments to the Assistant Police Officer Act and Other Acts (measures related to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease) (170 SE), initiated by the Government.
The Bill stems from the emergency situation that has been declared and the problems that have arisen in the resolution of the emergency situation, in particular the fact that, under the current law, it is impossible to impose the specifications applicable during emergency situations. During an emergency situation, it may be complicated to ensure the continuation of all ordinary proceedings and the provision of services as authorities are preoccupied with the performance of the tasks related to the resolution of the emergency situation. In order that it would be possible to make specifications as necessary, amendments are provided for in the Acts so that it would be possible for example to prolong or suspend the progress of proceedings as necessary during an emergency situation.
The clauses on the amendment of the Emergency Act concerning the processing of personal data in emergency situation and the processing of the data in databases will be omitted from the Bill. The current situation will remain in place, and the state has no legal basis for forwarding to the police the lists of people who have become ill.
The Bill will amend 33 Acts, and essentially three types of amendments will be made. First, exceptions in terms of the validity of various licences, and the duration of and deadlines for various types of proceedings, provided for for the time of emergency situation. Second, exceptions to extend the competence and tasks of various authorities and persons, provided for for the time of emergency situation. Third, amendments necessary for an emergency situation but at the same time essentially of a permanent character.
Amendments to several Acts will provide for temporary exceptions for the time of emergency situation for the extension of health and training certificates in place in various professions and for the validity of existing activity licences. The qualification requirements will be temporarily alleviated in some specialities, and certain procedural requirements and deadlines will be simplified. They are mitigations provided for for the time of emergency situation which will allow for the provision of certain services, the operation of proceedings and the performance of work to continue uninterrupted during an emergency situation.
The Bill also proposes practical amendments to facilitate the resolution of emergency situations. For the purposes of ensuring order, and for better involvement of assistant police officers and members of the Estonian Defence League, their competences in the performance of law enforcement tasks together with police officers have been harmonised. At the same time, the use of law enforcement measures by assistant police officers and members of the Estonian Defence League at the time of emergency situation has been extended. Some state authorities have been granted additional competences and discretionary power for the time of emergency situation. The permitted net debt burden for local governments and the procedure of the final examinations in basic schools and upper secondary schools have been amended. The rules for data processing and for the information of the public have been specified.
The Bill also includes legislative proposals motivated by emergency situation which however are of a permanent character and will also remain in place in ordinary circumstances. They are in particular the amendments that will allow for procedural acts to be performed from a distance in the administration of justice. There is a proposal to make permanent amendments to the legislation concerning aliens.
During the debate, Toomas Kivimägi (Reform Party), Valdo Randpere (Reform Party), Urmas Kruuse (Reform Party), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party), Kaja Kallas (Reform Party), Heljo Pikhof (Social Democratic Party), Ivari Padar (Social Democratic Party), Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa), Merry Aart (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party), Madis Milling (Reform Party) and Katri Raik (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.
The speakers analysed the content of the extensive “cluster” Bill and the potential impact of its provisions, and the legal problems relating thereto.
The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The result of voting: 41 votes in favour and 53 against. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
One Bill passed the first reading
Under the Bill on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Other Acts (formation of the Education and Youth Board, renaming of the Language Inspectorate as the Language Board) (163 SE), initiated by the Government, the Education and Youth Board will be formed in the area of government of the Ministry of Education, and the Language Inspectorate will be renamed as the Language Board. The amendments conform to the state reform action plan 2019–2023 approved on the basis of the Government’s action programme.
According to the Bill, the Education and Youth Board will be formed in the area of government of the Ministry of Education and Research. It will be formed on the basis of the services of the Foundation Innove, Archimedes Foundation, the Information Technology Foundation for Education, and the Estonian Youth Work Centre, a state authority administered by the Ministry of Education and Research. In connection with that, the activities of an applicational character that are not related to policy making in the Ministry of Education and Research will also be taken to the new government agency.
The State Shared Service Centre will begin to perform the tasks of accounting, salary calculation and personnel records as well as those of the 2nd level intermediate body for structural assistance.
According to the Bill, the Language Inspectorate, a government agency operating in the area of government of the Ministry of Education and Research, will be renamed as the Language Board. The Language Board will continue to provide all the services currently provided by the Language Inspectorate. In addition, language policy implementation activities in the Ministry of Education and Research and Archimedes Foundation will be transferred to the Language Board. The Language Board will be the language policy implementation agency in the areas of the control and supervision of the use of the Estonian language, and counselling and development.
The amendments made by the Bill will contribute to more coherent functioning of state authorities. The performance of the state’s strategic tasks in the area of language, education and youth will be enhanced. The existing resources will be used more efficiently and effectively, including competence, and high-quality public services will be offered.
Priit Sibul (Isamaa) took the floor during the debate.
The sitting ended at 7 p.m.
Video recording of the sitting can be viewed later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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