On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Riigikogu suspended the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act and the Health Services Organisation Act (615 SE), initiated by the Government. The suspension was due to the decision of the Social Affairs Committee to ask for the opinion of the Constitutional Committee with regard to the establishment of a possible temporary fixed-term regulation regarding the issuing of the activity licence of general pharmacy in regions with great demand.
The Bill establishes a new framework in the organisation of pharmacy services. The Bill will reduce the influence of business interests in the provision of pharmacy services which entails the risk of a conflict of interest. The Committee of Social Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the State Agency of Medicines had made 16 motions to amend the Bill before the second reading, taking into account the opinions of the Government, the Chancellor of Justice and the National Audit Office.
The motions to amend concern 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.
According to a motion to amend, enterprises engaged in the wholesale or manufacture of medicinal products and in the provision of health care services, and enterprises connected with them through dominant influence will not be allowed to hold an activity licence of general pharmacy.
According to a motion to amend, in the future, it will be allowed to establish branch pharmacies only in smaller rural areas, and in cities with less than 4000 inhabitants. The existing branch pharmacies will have to bring themselves into conformity with the requirements for general pharmacy within five years.
The Committee of Social Affairs also made a proposal that would grant general pharmacies the possibility to organise delivery of medicinal products at the request of patient.
According to the proposal of the Social Affairs Committee, general pharmacies located in cities will have to be open for at least 40 hours a week. In addition, pharmacy owners will have to ensure that, in the future, their dispensing chemists and pharmacists receive professional training for at least 40 academic hours in two years.
According to a motion to amend, a general pharmacy will have the possibility to prepare also other products for medical purposes and toiletries, such as medicinal tea, in addition to medicinal products. Up to now, pharmacies have had the right to only sell such products.
The Committee made a proposal to omit from the Bill the provisions concerning ownership restriction which allowed only dispensing chemists to receive an activity licence of general pharmacy. The restriction concerning location, according to which only one general or branch pharmacy can be located simultaneously in the same building, was also omitted from the Bill.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of four Bills:
The Bill on Amendments to the Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act (590 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill 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 Bill, indication of the field of work, and the contact details of the person in the declaration will be enough in the future. According to the Bill, 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 Bill on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act (626 SE), initiated by the Government. It 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. Establishment of a reverse charge mechanism for the turnover of all gold material would lead to a sharp rise in tax evasion with respect to other precious metals and precious stones. As of 1 April 2012, a reverse charge mechanism had been established for gold material, including semi-manufactured gold products of a purity equal to or greater than 325 thousandths, and on investment gold where the taxable person has opted for taxation thereof. This amendment reduced VAT frauds on the gold market for a short time. To avoid the reverse charge, melted gold with a purity below the established limit began to be sold.
Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor during the debate.
The Bill 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 Bill changes the wording of the Act in connection with the implementation of the client portal of the Labour Inspectorate in order to provide clients with a simpler and faster electronic channel of communication in various acts. The client portal of the Labour Inspectorate is a website addressed to clients, with the help of which they can communicate electronically and exchange documents with the Inspectorate. The implementation of the client portal of the Labour Inspectorate is hindered by the requirement to submit documents in written form, set out in the Act which is currently in force. The Bill 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 Bill establishes a provision delegating authority to two databases in order that it would be possible to validate the existing working environment database in the State Information System Management System and to establish a new, safe working life database.
The Bill on Amendments to the Veterinary Activities Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (621 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill brings the Act into conformity with the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act. In the Veterinary Activities Organisation Act which is currently in force, a licence called “an activity licence of a veterinarian” is provided for, which is essentially a professional activity licence and must therefore be excluded from the scope of application of 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”. The person’s skills in performing a certain work are important in the issuing of a professional activity licence, while the person’s ability to ensure the compliance of the activities of an independent business entity or undertaking with the requirements of economic activity is important in the issuing of an activity licence. 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 Rural Affairs Committee had made five motions to amend the Bill before the second reading which will ensure the sustainability of the quality of veterinarians. In the estimation of representatives of the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Veterinary Association who were involved, a result satisfying the parties has been achieved with the Bill.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of three Bills:
The Bill on Amendments to the Veterinary Supervision over Trade in Animals and Animal Products and the Import and Export thereof Act and Other Associated Acts (655 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill brings the Veterinary Supervision over Trade in Animals and Animal Products and the Import and Export thereof Act into conformity with the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act and the Maintenance of Law and Order Act which will enter into force on 1 July 2014. An amendment provides that the current requirement of approval of free zones, free warehouses and customs warehouses intended for storing non-conforming animal products, and of establishments supplying vessels engaged in international transport operations outside of the EU territorial waters with non-conforming foodstuffs of animal origin will be replaced by an authorisation obligation. According to an amendment, an undertaking must have an activity licence according to either the Infectious Animal Disease Control Act or the Food Act. An amendment sets the the exercise of state supervision apart from the check conducted in the course of administrative proceedings. The Bill brings out more clearly that the Veterinary and Food Board checks the conformity of the food imported. The wording is also brought in line with the terms used in the Food Act as amended by the Act on Amendments to and Implementation of the Maintenance of Law and Order Act, passed on 19 February 2014.
The Bill on Amendments to the Food Act (642 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill ensures implementation of obligations arising from the European Union in two fields: the provision of food information to consumers, and foods for particular nutritional uses. In addition, the provisions delegating authority that serve as the basis for legislative acts are updated, and the authority to establish legislative acts is given to the Minister of Agriculture instead of the Government. This is due to developments in the legislative drafting and supervision in the field of food.
The Bill on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (654 SE), initiated by the Government, which increases the flexibility of the formation of the Government cabinet and the distribution of areas of responsibility between ministers. According to the amendments, official titles of ministers will no longer be provided for by law. At the same time, the current limit of 15 members of the Government will remain in force. The competences of ministers will be determined by an order of the Prime Minister and their official titles can be determined by a Resolution of the President upon appointment to office of the Government. The amendment allows the appointment of several ministers to a ministry and to give tasks to ministers also in other ministries. The competences of ministers would remain the same unless otherwise provided by an order of the Prime Minister. The institution of assistant minister is abandoned with the Bill. The regulation concerning minister without portfolio is not changed. The Bill also provides that the Government of the Republic and the Prime Minister can give orders electronically.
Jaak Aaviksoo took the floor during the debate and moved to reject the Bill in the name of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction.
At the voting, 11 members of the Riigikogu were in favour and 36 were against; thus, the motion was not supported.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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