At today's sitting, the Riigikogu started the deliberation of a Bill which had been declared to be a matter of confidence. According to the Bill, the payment of support to people who resettle from abroad will be terminated and the service of supported employment as a state service will be established for people with special needs.
The deliberation of the Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and Other Acts (295 SE), initiated by the Government, which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading, was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the sitting and will continue at tomorrow’s sitting. According to the Bill, the support to people who resettle from abroad will no longer be paid to people who will settle in Estonia after 1 January 2024 and the grant of the support will be terminated on 1 April 2029. At present, 36 people are receiving the support.
According to the Bill, it had initially been planned to allow the Social Insurance Board to refuse home delivery of a benefit if any other benefit was being paid to the current account of the beneficiary. Under an amendment made to the Bill before the second reading, the relevant provisions will be omitted from the Bill and the principle currently in force will not be changed. This means that, in the future, it will also be possible for example to have pension delivered to home by post, even if the Social Insurance Board is paying another benefit to the current account of the beneficiary.
An amendment was also made to the Bill to specify issues relating to the funding of the special welfare service and the conclusion of the contract for the provision of the service and to amend the bases for the service of supported employment. People with special needs have got protected employment within the framework of a pilot project so far but as the trial period is ending, the Bill is intended to ensure the service of supported employment as a state service starting from next year. The amendments will help the Social Insurance Board ensure people with special needs a smoother transition to the new service from the start of the new budget year. With the specification of the content of the employment support service, a clearer description of the service will be established which will formulate the opportunity to provide employment in protected conditions and at service providers for people who do not take up independent employment. A total of 6.11 million euro worth of additional funds are planned to be allocated to the base budget for special welfare services under the State Budget for 2024 Bill. At least 170 places for receipt of the employment support service are also planned to be financed from them.
In addition, the time of entry into force of the amendments relating to the closed child care institution service is postponed by a year with a motion to amend. According to amendments passed earlier, it was intended to transfer the closed child care institution service provided at Maarjamaa Educational College, as well as its budget and real estate from the area of administration of the Ministry of Education and Research to the area of administration of the Ministry of Social Affairs, and to change the current organisation of the service. The preparations necessary for the comprehensive transfer of the service have been taking longer however and it will be impossible to transfer the organisation of the service from 1 July 2024, and therefore the time of entry into force of the amendments relating to the closed child care institution service will be postponed by a year until 1 July 2025.
The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading on 18 October, and members of the Riigikogu had submitted 50 motions to amend it by the deadline. On 16 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and thereby also taken over the duties of the lead committee. Motions to amend a Bill that has been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government are not put to a vote.
At the second reading of the Bill, a representative of the Government, the Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo presented a comment. Each member of the Riigikogu could ask up to two oral questions of her. Thereafter, the debate began where Rain Epler, Leo Kunnas, Helle-Moonika Helme, Jaak Valge, Kert Kingo, Rene Kokk and Arvo Aller from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, Andrei Korobeinik from the Estonian Centre Party Group and Riina Solman from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor. The debate where all members of the Riigikogu can take the floor will continue at Wednesday’s sitting. After the end of the debate, a final vote on the Bill will be held.
The deliberation of the Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act and the Health Services Organisation Act (beginner’s allowances) (293 SE) and the Bill on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act (294 SE) which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading was also deferred to the agenda for tomorrow’s sitting due to the end of the working hours of the sitting.
Video recording will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.