The Riigikogu passed three Acts and a Resolution:
The Act on Amendments to the State Pension Insurance Act, the State Family Benefits Act and Other Acts concerning Social Insurance Benefits and Social Benefits (267 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 50 votes in favour (25 votes against). The Act does not amend the principles provided earlier, except for the amendments in the regulation of survivor’s pension which modify the circumstances of the payment of survivor’s pension in special cases applied so far. Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act concern the payment of family benefits for children who are staying at a custodial institution and the payment of single parent’s child allowance. In addition, the Act specifies the procedure for the calculation of the years of pensionable service for compulsory military service and alternative service, and the procedure for delivering the precepts of the Pension Board. The Act regulates the system of payment of family benefits. The Act includes the amendment submitted by the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu which provides that both pension and benefits for disabled persons would continue to be delivered home by post to old age pensioners and persons with profound disability receiving pension for incapacity for work whose mobility is restricted or who live in a low density area and who have difficulties in accessing banking service.
The Act on Amendments to the Employment Services and Subsidies Act and the Social Welfare Act (285 SE), initiated by the Government, which specifies the conditions of the provision of employment services, the registration of the unemployed and of the people searching for work, and the payment of labour market benefit, was passed with 75 votes in favour. The amendments introduced by the Act will contribute to achieving a high level of employment and preventing long-term unemployment and exclusion from the labour market. The Act amends the procedure for reclaiming the sums received without basis and eliminates the bottlenecks which have appeared during implementation. The Act extends the range of persons with whom the Labour Market Board can enter into a contract for the provision of a service to an unemployed person. According to the Act, coaching for working life may be carried out by every person and work practice may be carried out by every employer, including authorities of executive power. The procedure for provision of the services and the concept of suitable work were also specified, as well as the registration of the unemployed and of the people searching for work and the conditions of payment of labour market benefits (unemployment allowance, transport and accommodation benefits).
The Act on Amendments to the Contained Use of Genetically Modified Micro-organisms Act (268 SE), initiated by the Government, which brings the specified Act into conformity with European Union legislation, was passed with 72 votes in favour. In essence, the safety of contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMM) is specified with the aim of protecting human health and the environment. Implementation of the Act increases the safety of employees and environmental safety upon contained use of GMM. At the same time, users of GMMs are alerted to the fact that the transport of GMMs by road, rail, inland waterway, sea or air is regulated by legislation concerning carriage of dangerous goods.
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Increase of the Staff and Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Estonian Defence Forces in Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State under the International Peacekeeping Mission in Afghanistan” (356 OE), submitted by the Government, which provides the increasing of the staff of the Estonian Defence Forces provided in the Riigikogu Resolution of 22 January 2003 to up to 170 members of the Defence Forces and extends the time limit of their use on the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan under the leadership of NATO until 31 December 2009, was passed with 50 votes in favour.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of three Bills:
The Equal Treatment Bill (262 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, the Social Democratic Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction, promotes the principle of equal treatment. The Bill provides the principles of equal treatment and the tasks in the implementation and promotion of the principle of equal treatment. Among other things, the Bill proposes that an equal treatment commissioner be appointed to office. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 26 votes in favour, 55 against.
The Bill on Amendments to the Border Guard Service Act (269 SE), initiated by the Government, is intended for resolving the personnel problems of the Border Guard as soon as possible. The main focus is on improving the flexibility of the education requirements for border guards. Other amendments are intended for specifying the Act.
The Bill on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act and Associated Acts (313 SE), initiated by the Government, eliminates the bottlenecks hindering the development of the second pillar which have appeared in the contribution phase of the funded pension system, and improves the regulation of the payment phase of the mandatory funded pension system. As regards the contribution phase, the Bill enhances the transparency of the structure of the fees relating to the pension fund and the flexibility of the rules for the exchange of units and the limitations on investment in pension funds. This creates the possibilities for unit-holders to react more effectively to changes in pension fund rules or investment results.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of thirteen Bills:
the Bill on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Associated Acts (333 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Value Added Tax Act and the Income Tax Act (353 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act (311 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to Acts regulating Legal Protection of Industrial Property and Associated Acts (281 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act (330 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Victim Support Act, the Medicinal Products Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the State Fees Act, the State Family Benefits Act, the Working and Rest Time Act and the Holidays Act (349 SE), initiated by the Government. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 26 votes in favour, 45 against;
the Bill on Ratification of Agreement on Participation of Republic of Bulgaria and Romania in European Economic Area (319 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Environmental Charges Act (348 SE), initiated by the Government; The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 20 votes in favour, 49 against;
the Bill on Amendments to the Defence Forces Service Act and the Health Care Services Organisation Act (324 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Peace-Time National Defence Act (339 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Promotion of Local Government Merger Act (318 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Machinery Safety Bill (292 SE), initiated by the Government;
the Bill on Amendments to the Support of Enterprise and State Loan Guarantees Act (323 SE), initiated by the Government.
At Question Time, the Minister of Social Affairs Maret Maripuu answered the question about structural funds, submitted by Helle Kalda, and the question about labour market policy, submitted by Mai Treial. The Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas answered the question about children’s schoolbag and the budget of the Ministry of Education and Research, submitted by Marek Strandberg. The Minister of Culture Laine Jänes answered the question about the budget of the Ministry of Finance, submitted by Eldar Efendijev.
The sitting ended at 6.51 p.m.
The Riigikogu Press Service