On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Universities Act, the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act and Other Acts (89 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The reforms made by the Bill concern the rights of students upon acquiring higher education financed from the state budget, and the financing of level studies in higher education from the state budget. The concept “activity support” will be introduced instead of the current “state-commissioned education”. According to the Bill, in the future, activity support which as a general rule is no longer bound to the number of specific study places and graduates will be allocated from the state budget to institutions of higher education for carrying out instruction at higher education levels. An educational institution will decide, on the basis of its profile, the functions assigned to it and the existing training capacity, in which fields and how many study places will be established. The Bill also provides that full- or part-time study will no longer be the basis for compensation of study expenses arising from law but completion of the study programme to the extent of at least 30 ECP per semester will be required. The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to reject this Bill at the first reading; 49 members of the Riigikogu voted against the motion and 15 voted in favour. Thus, the motion to reject was not supported and the Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Environmental Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Ambient Air Protection Act and Other Associated Acts
), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill ensures transposition of Directive 2009/31/EC into Estonian law and creates an opportunity to capture and transport geologically stored CO2
in Estonia. Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage (CCS) is a bridging technology that consists of the separation of gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2
) from the industrial emissions (mainly in power plants, but also steel industry and other installations), its capture, liquefaction, transport under pressure to a storage site and injection into a suitable underground geological formation (group) meeting certain conditions for the purposes of permanent storage. In Estonia, the research works necessary threfor were ordered from the Institute of Geology at Tallinn University of Technology. On the basis of this scientific research, the conditions for geological storage of CO2
within the meaning of Directive 2009/31/EC are considered unfavourable in Estonia. According to the Bill, no such obligation will be directly provided. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Prosecutor’s Office Act
), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The Act regulates the remuneration of prosecutors. The amendments are due to the need to keep the salaries of prosecutors in proportion to the salaries of judges and other higher state officials in order to ensure the balance between the different branches of power. The Bill was initiated with the aim of separating this issue from the so-called “cluster Bill” (100 SE
). The Bill provides that, upon determination of the remuneration of prosecutors, guidance is taken from the principles for determining the salaries of judges and the monthly salary rate of the Chief Public Prosecutor may not exceed the salary rate specified in subsection 2 (1) of the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act multiplied by the highest salary rate index specified in subsection (2) multiplied by factor 0.85. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 5 of the Value Added Tax Act
), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. The Bill was initiated with the intention to preserve the reduced limit of the refund of value added tax upon sale with value added tax refund (tax free) which is in force temporarily (1.01.2010-31.12.2011). The proposal to reduce the limits has been made by the Estonian Traders’ Association, the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association and the Estonian Association of Travel Agents. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications supports the proposal. In its opinion, the tax-free limit which was reduced to 38.5 euro for two years in January 2010 has had a positive impact on the tourism sector. According to the Bill, the limit will be made comparable with that in neighbouring countries and the limit of 38 euro will be established for tax free sale. The amendment will have a favourable effect on the growth of tourism which in turn will increase budget receipts. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act
), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion of the Committee and 38 voted against. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
Due to the end of the working hours of the sitting of the plenary assembly, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 4 of the Income Tax Act
), initiated by the Estonian Centre PartyFaction, was adjourned. The deliberation of the Bill will be resumed on Wednesday, 23 November, at the sitting beginning at 2 p.m.
The Riigikogu Press Service