The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Bill on the coming year’s state budget and sent it to the third reading. The deadline for motions to amend is 5.15 p.m. on 29 November.
During the proceedings on the Bill, the Finance Committee heard the ministers of all sectors, in order to obtain a detailed overview of the budgets of the areas of government. The members and factions of the Riigikogu submitted 50 motions to amend the Bill. The Finance Committee drafted 20 motions to amend, the content of which concerns technical amendments between and within the areas of government, and specification of sections in the text. The amendments made by the Committee were drafted on the basis of the additional information obtained from ministries. The Committee did not accept the motions to amend submitted by the factions and members of the Riigikogu. Several motions to amend concerned the balancing of the structural budget position by reducing the labour and management costs of the constitutional institutions and the areas of government of the ministries, and the costs on Rail Baltic and Enterprise Estonia, and other costs. There were also proposals to increase the funds allocated to several programmes.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin said that these proposals had not been supported by the committee after having been reviewed because the solutions offered for covering the proposals would have changed the proportions pursued in the budget and the achievement of the objectives set.
The coming year’s budget is based on an economic growth of 3.3 percent and is planned with a 0.25 per cent deficit According to the Bill, the expenditure and investments volume of the budget will be 10.58 billion euro and the revenue volume 10.29 billion euro.
Under the State Budget for 2018 Bill (521 SE), initiated by the Government, the aim of the activities funded from the budget is to support the four priorities determined in the Government’s state budget strategy: to promote the economic growth of Estonia, to increase the population of Estonia, to strengthen security and to increase social welfare and cohesion.
During the debate, Andres Ammas, Heljo Pikhof, Kersti Sarapuu, Hanno Pevkur, Sven Sester, Mart Helme, Andres Herkel, Aivar Sõerd, Igor Gräzin, Oudekki Loone, Jürgen Ligi, Martin Helme, Maris Lauri, Krista Aru, Külliki Kübarsepp, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus and Margus Tsahkna took the floor.
The speakers presented their observations and positions in connection with the coming year’s state budget. They pointed out the positive changes relating to the budget, but also the risks involved in a budget drafted with excessive optimism and a structural deficit.
The Estonian Free Party Faction, the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill after the vote on the motions to amend. The result of voting: 34 members of the Riigikogu in favour, 54 against. The motion was not supported. The second reading was concluded. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
The Riigikogu passed three Acts
The Act on Amendments to the Code of Administrative Court Procedure, the State Fees Act and the State Legal Aid Act, with a view to enhancing administrative court procedure (496 SE), initiated by the Government, improves the availability of procedural assistance to persons who belong to social risk groups.
Under the new regulation, a court is able to more flexibly assess whether an applicant for procedural assistance needs the assistance. A court can exempt a person partially or fully from bearing legal costs which include the legal aid costs on the state fee, the security payable in relation to certain proceedings, the translation of procedural documents, as well as an advocate appointed. Procedural assistance is granted if the legal costs exceed two times the monthly income of the person from which essential costs for example for the performance of a maintenance obligation and reasonable cost of accommodation and transport have been deducted. In the future, a court will be able to deduct from the income also other inevitable costs to the extent of up to 75 per cent of the current minimum monthly wage rate.
To reduce the overburdening of courts, the right of action and the right of appeal is delimited. The delimitation of the right of action and the right of appeal concerns actions that in most cases are motivated by bad faith of the applicant. The Act extends the possibilities to use simplified proceedings. Simplified proceedings are a type of proceedings that require less resources compared to ordinary proceedings as the court may hear a matter pursuant to the simplified procedure, for example, hear a party to the proceedings via the telephone, derogate from the formal requirements for documents or forgo convening a court session. As a major amendment, the threshold for the application of simplified proceedings is raised from 200 euro to 1000 euro. In the case of a legal value that has a money value which remains below the threshold, it is possible to apply simplified proceedings. The aim of the amendments is to extend the use of simplified proceedings in administrative court proceedings.
81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act.
The Act on Amendments to the Payment Institutions and E-money Institutions Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (498 SE), initiated by the Government, transposes the European Union’s relevant payment services directive that regulates novel payment services, manages the security risks relating to payments and increases consumer protection.
The Act regulates two new payment services: account information and payment initiation services. An undertaking providing these services has to apply for an authorisation from the Financial Supervision Authority and in the future it will be under the supervision of the Financial Supervision Authority like other payment institutions. With the account information service, a client can conveniently obtain aggregate information about his or her financial situation from different banks. The payment initiation service allows payment in Internet shops without a credit card or the bank link service of a specific credit institution. Such services are not offered in Estonia, but the service “Mint” (account information) offered in the US, and “Sofort” which offers the payment initiation service in Germany, serve as examples.
84 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act.
Under the Act on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (489 SE), initiated by the Government, the substitute home service and foster care of a child will be organised by local governments after the elimination of county governments.
The right to issue activity licences is transferred to the Social Insurance Board who will also exercise supervision in the future. Besides distributing the functions of county governments between local governments and the Social Insurance Board, one aim of the Bill is to increase the proportion of family-based substitute care.
The substitute care service and the follow-up care service are included in the Chapter concerning the assistance organised by local governments. The aim of the regulation is that the children who are in substitute care would be treated equally and their treatment would not depend on the form of the substitute care, the age of the child or young person, the location of the service provider or other circumstances that might give rise to a discriminating situation.
The substitute and follow-up care service are provided to a vulnerable target group who has been deprived of the care and support of his or her family of origin for a long or short time and whose interests are represented by a guardian appointed by a court or arising from law, and in most cases it is the rural municipality or city government. The substitute care service is intended for minors and the follow-up care service for young adults of up to 25 years of age.
Liina Kersna (Reform Party) took the floor during the debate and stressed the importance of the Act.
81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act.
The following Bill passed the first reading in the Riigikogu
The Bill on Amendments to the Sport Act and the Income Tax Act (534 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for the possibility to pay a compensation for expenses to referees which will be granted to a sports organisation or the owner of a sports school entered into the sports database. The payment of the compensation for expenses will have to be connected with a referee acting as a volunteer at competitions reflected in the calendar plan of a sports federation or a county sports union or a sports association operating on a regional basis. The estimated rate of the compensation for expenses will be up to 20 euro per day of refereeing. To receive a compensation for expenses, the person will have to be evaluated by a sports federation or be under 20 years of age, and the person may not receive wages or remuneration paid on the basis of a contract under the law of obligations for refereeing at the same competition.
The sitting ended at 7.32 p.m.
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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