At the plenary sitting on Wednesday, the Riigikogu passed seven Acts. A total of 21 Bills were discussed.
The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act and the Health Services Organisation Act (615 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu. 45 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of the passing of the Act,18 were against and one abstained. The Act establishes a temporary restriction, according to which, until 9 June 2015, a pharmacy can be opened in settlements with 4000 or more inhabitants only on the proposal of the local government and with the consent of the State Agency of Medicines. According to the Act, enterprises engaged in the wholesale of medicinal products and enterprises connected with them through dominant influence are not allowed to hold an activity licence of general pharmacy. In addition, the Act provides that general pharmacies are granted the possibility to organise delivery of medicinal products at the request of patient. An amendment concerns the definition of dispensing chemists and pharmacists as health care professionals, the establishment of and the organisation of the work of pharmacy bus, the payment of start up allowance for working in the country to pharmacists, and the simplification of opening a pharmacy on small islands.
The Riigikogu passed with 77 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to § 6 of the Estonian Flag Act (597 SE), initiated by the National Defence Committee, which included Veterans Day, 23 April, among other flag days.
The Riigikogu passed with 76 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Individual Labour Dispute Resolution Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (580 SE), initiated by the Government. The Act enables the Labour Inspectorate to implement the client portal, with the help of which clients can communicate electronically and exchange documents with the Inspectorate. The Act also changes the scheme of reporting of an occupational accident and declaring an employee to be temporarily incapacitated for work as a result of an occupational accident. According to the new procedure, the Labour Inspectorate, instead of a doctor, will report an occupational accident and declaring an employee to be temporarily incapacitated for work as a result of an occupational accident to the employer. The Act also allows for the establishment of a new, safe working life database. The Act is planned to come into force on 1 September 2014.
The Riigikogu passed with 79 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Veterinary Activities Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (621 SE), initiated by the Government. The aim was to bring the Act into conformity with the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act. The current “activity licence of a veterinarian” will be renamed “a professional activity licence of a veterinarian”. In the issuing of it, the person’s skills in performing a certain work are important. The Minister of Agriculture will be given the authority to establish a register of veterinarians which will replace the current list maintained by the Veterinary and Food Board. The Act enters into force on 1 July this year.
The Riigikogu passed with 76 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act (590 SE), initiated by the Government. The Act simplifies the proceedings for the notification of the work on a temporary basis which a person must undergo if he or she comes from a foreign state and wishes to commence work in Estonia on a temporary basis without undergoing the proceedings for recognition of foreign professional qualifications. According to the Act, indication of the field of work, and the contact details of the person in the declaration will be enough in the future. The declaration will have to be submitted before the commencement of work on a temporary basis, but no specific date will be provided therefor.
The Riigikogu passed with 69 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act (626 SE), initiated by the Government, which changes the list of goods subject to the reverse charge mechanism by including precious metals and metal materials containing precious metal, and precious stones. The aim of the amendments is to apply a reverse charge mechanism for the turnover of all precious metals and precious stones in order to avoid tax evasions, because tax evasions are committed also with respect to other precious metals and precious stones, besides gold material.
Member of the Riigikogu Kalev Kallo took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu passed the Act on the Ratification of the Final Acts of the 25th Congress of the Universal Postal Union (610 SE), initiated by the Government. 57 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passing of the Act, and one member abstained. The General Regulations are a document concerning the organisation the work of the Universal Postal Union. The Convention contains the rules applicable throughout the international postal service and it is binding on all member countries. Member countries ensure that their designated operators fulfil the obligations arising out of the Convention. The Universal Postal Union coordinates the global cooperation of the postal service providers, establishes the rules for providing the universal postal service and makes recommendations for the development of international postal services and for enhancing their quality.
Three Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:
The Tallinn University of Technology Bill (619 SE), initiated by the Government, which establishes the Act for Tallinn University of Technology. The Bill defines the areas of responsibility and the main objectives of the study and research activities of Tallinn University of Technology. Tallinn University of Technology is the leading promoter of technological sciences in Estonia. In order to better carry this responsibility, relevant professorships will be established which will be financed from the state budget. The management structure of Tallinn University of Technology will be updated which will enable the university to involve also people from outside the academic community of the university in management processes to a significantly greater extent. The Council will be appointed as the highest management body of Tallinn University of Technology, and the academic decision-making body will be the Senate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Courts Act and Other Associated Acts (570 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill changes the procedure for the assumption of office of the assistant judge and reforms the administrative organisation of court registers. In the future, assistant judges will perform service duties only in the maintenance of court registers and in the payment order department. They may not be assigned wider tasks related to the performance of the function of the administration of justice, such as the determination of procedural expenses. Advocates-General support the administration of justice in courts.
Member of the Riigikogu Juhan Parts took the floor during the debate.
The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported (18 in favour, 47 against).
The 2014–2020 Structural Assistance Bill (622 SE), initiated by the Government, which provides for the framework of the implementation plan of the Investment for growth and jobs goal, the European Territorial Cooperation Programme and the EU Cross-border Cooperation Programme, and the implementation plan of the European Food Aid Programme for the Most Deprived.
The Riigikogu suspended the second reading of two Bills:
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act and Amendments to the Act on Amendments to and Implementation of the Maintenance of Law and Order Act (573 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended because of numerous motions to amend. The Bill eliminates inaccuracies in the Act which is currently in force and harmonises the regulations of special Acts with those of the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act. The Bill contains more than 200 motions to amend.
The Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu had decided to suspend the second reading at its sitting on 12 May. The new deadline for motions to amend is 22 May. The resumption of the second reading of the Bill is scheduled for 4 June, and in case the second reading will be concluded, the third reading will take place on the following day, that is, on 5 June. The Act is planned to enter into force on 1 July this year.
The Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee Kaja Kallas pointed out that nearly a hundred motions to amend the Bill that had been initiated by the Government in January had been submitted by the initiator of the Bill, governmental authorities and other persons. “The Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education and Research, The National Heritage Board, the Estonian Association of Construction Entrepreneurs, the Estonian Association of Electrical Enterprises and NGO Old Town Society submitted proposals and opinions regarding this Bill.”
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code and Other Associated Acts (554 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended because of numerous motions to amend. The aim of the amendment of the Penal Code and other associated Acts is to reduce the number of punishable offences and to eliminate overcriminalization. The new deadline for motions to amend is 26 May.
Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Jents who presented a report in the name of the Legal Affairs Committee pointed out that 63 motions to amend the Bill had been submitted in total. They had been by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, Tallinn City Office, Elektrilevi OÜ, Elion Enterprises Ltd, Estonian Railways Ltd, the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Estonian Traders’ Association and the Chamber of Bailiffs and Trustees in Bankruptcy, the Estonian Authors’ Society, the Estonian Organisation for Copyright Protection, and BSA The Software Alliance, as well as Professor of Civil Law at the University of Tartu Paul Varul and a judge of Harju County Court Merike Varusk. With the suspension of the second reading, different parties are given additional time to further assess the motions to amend.
Nine Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the District Heating Act (609 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill provides more liberal conditions for the organisation of the pricing of thermal energy for effectively managing heating undertakings. The deadline for motions to amend is 4 June.
The Bill on Amendments to the Universities Act and the Veterinary Activities Organisation Act (627 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill provides for the bases and conditions for additional financing of clinical instruction of veterinary training. The deadline for motions to amend is 4 June.
The Collective Agreements and Settlement of Collective Labour Disputes Bill (623 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill regulates issues relating to the conclusion and termination of collective agreements, the settlement of collective labour disputes, the organisation of interruptions of work (strike, warning strike, support strike and lock-out), the agreement on a minimum service in the event of an interruption of work, and issues relating to the Public Conciliator. Differently from the current regulation, advance notice of at least five working days will be required for a support strike. The Bill provides for a new procedure for the appointment of the Public Conciliator. It also provides for a regulation of the settlement of labour disputes of employees who are prohibited from striking, which is lacking at present. The deadline for motions to amend is 4 June.
The President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act, the Social Welfare Act and the Act on Granting International Protection to Aliens (669 SE), initiated by the Government. According to the Bill, the universal child allowance will increase for all children in a family. As of next year, the state will begin to pay a benefit in an amount of 45 euro, instead of the current 19.18 euro, for all first and second children of families. At the same time, the benefit for the third child will rise to 100 euro per month, and needs-based family benefits will increase to 45 euro per month. Child allowance will be established as a fixed amount and it will no longer be connected with the child allowance rate. Child allowance is a monthly allowance paid from the birth of child until he or she attains 16 years of age. If the child continues studies, the payment of child allowance is continued until the child attains 19 years of age. In order to improve the subsistence of families, upon the grant of subsistence benefits, the equivalence scale for children will be equalised with that for the first member of the household, which means that the subsistence benefit paid to families with children will increase. The needs-based family benefit paid to families with children with low income will also be increased. The deadline for motions to amend is 2 June.
Liisa-Ly Pakosta and Karel Rüütli took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Auditors Activities Act and the Securities Market Act (613 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill harmonises and simplifies the implementation of the Act, and links up the work of different persons engaged in the organisation of the activities of auditors and the work of the bodies of the Board of Auditors, reduces their workload and precludes the adoption of parallel decisions. The deadline for motions to amend is 28 May.
The Bill on Amendments to the Gambling Tax Act and the Taxation Act (653 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill changes the regulation concerning the objects and rates of taxation established by the Gambling Tax Act. In addition, the due date for the submission of gambling tax returns and the payment of gambling tax on gaming tables and gaming machines used for the organisation of games of chance is established on the same bases as in the case of other types of gambling. The aims of the amendments are more equal treatment of gambling operators, the creation of fair competition and the promotion of enterprise in the field of gambling. The deadline for motions to amend is 29 May.
The Bill on Amendments to the Waste Act (661 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill introduces into the Waste Act the regulation relating to waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) falling within the scope of producer responsibility. The Bill changes the definitions relating to WEEE and specifies the conditions for the export of used electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and the sending of WEEE to re-use. The deadline for motions to amend is 29 May.
The Bill on Amendments to the Spatial Information Act (652 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill amends the Act in order to ensure compliance of Estonian law with European Union law which in turn will contribute to the establishment of a European Infrastructure for Spatial Information. It will facilitate the sharing of spatial data sets and services between holders of information both nationally and more widely in Europe. The relevant EU directive establishes an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE). Spatial data are, for example, buildings displayed on maps, roads, and water bodies, as well as address details, geodetic points, cadastral parcels, etc. The deadline for motions to amend is 29 May.
The General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act Implementation Bill (668 SE), initiated by the Government. The specifications and amendments made by the Bill harmonise the provisions of environmental law with a view to ensuring better implementation thereof. An important amendment is connected with specification of the provisions concerning open proceedings in special Acts which are currently in force, because in addition to the current requirement to publicise a notice concerning an application for a waste permit, extraction permit, pollution permit or permit for the special use of water in the official publication Ametlikud Teadaanded, the requirement to publicise the notice in a local or county newspaper (and if the environmental disturbance can be regional or national, then also in a national newspaper), if necessary, has been added. The aim is to ensure better information of the public of proceedings of environmental permits. The deadline for motions to amend is 30 May.
The sitting ended at 6.35 p.m.
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