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At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed the Act that simplifies cross-border economic activities.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Commercial Code and the Accounting Act (digital solutions in company) (394 SE), initiated by the Government, which transposes the relevant EU directive regulating the use of digital tools and processes in company law. The Act will enable branches of companies to be registered online and thereby cross-border economic activities will be simplified.

The Act will enable foreign companies to register their branches online through the Company Registration Portal. Under the current law, it is possible to register branches in Estonia only through a notary, which is time-consuming and costly. In addition to the exchange of data on companies, data on branches, e.g. on the registration and striking off the register of branches, will begin to be exchanged between EU business registers. Due to the lack of data exchange up until now, branches have been able to continue operating after the company has already terminated its activities in another Member State.

The Act makes the registration and winding up of branches voluntary. In the future, foreign companies will be able to register their branches with the business register if they wish to disclose their data there. Up until now, too, this condition has been interpreted in accordance with EU law, i.e. as an option and not as an obligation.

The Act creates the basis for the EU Member States to automatically exchange data on disqualifications of directors of companies starting from 1 August 2023. Under the current law, there is no such automatic data exchange.

75 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act and there was one abstention.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Law of Obligations Act and the Consumer Protection Act (transposition of the Digital Content Directive, the Sale of Goods Directive and the Enforcement and Modernisation Directive) (404 SE), initiated by the Government. It transposes into Estonian law the EU Digital Content Directive and the new Sale of Goods Directive. The Consumer Rights Modernisation Directive is also transposed.

The proposed amendments mainly concern the purchase of software, smartphone applications, computer games and other digital content. In the future, the consumer rights will be more protected in this regard. Digital content also includes for example e-books and video and music files, and services include streaming services, cloud solutions, etc.

In the future, the situation where the consumer provides his or her personal data to the trader will also be treated as equivalent to the payment of money for content or a service. In such situations, the consumer is given contract law protection and the trader is held liable if the digital content is defective.

At the same time, the existing rules are specified in connection with the extensive use of digital elements in various devices. In the future, it will be clearer what obligations the seller has for example regarding the digital elements of smartphones and fitness bands, and during what period the seller has such obligations. For example, when buying a smart sports watch from a store, the consumer expects to be able to use various exercise regimes with it, to connect it with other devices, etc. According to the Act, the seller is also responsible for defects in the digital elements of the watch, also in the case when a third person, such as Apple, supplies the digital content or service to the consumer.

It is important for traders that a number of contract law-related obstacles are eliminated, and legal frameworks that so far have prevented cross-border trade are harmonised.

Digital content and digital services are not regulated in such terms in the current law. With the Digital Content Directive, this gap in EU law is closed, and consumer protection is ensured in this novel sector.

74 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act.

The Riigikogu also passed the Act on the Approval of the Amendments to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail and to its Appendices (386 SE), initiated by the Government. According to the explanatory memorandum, the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) is a uniform system of legal provisions concerning international carriage of passengers, luggage and goods by rail. The uniform rules of COTIF are applied in international rail transport, but also in road and water transport, which are related thereto.

As at 1 December 2020, COTIF includes 50 Member States in Europe, North Africa and Central Asia, as well as Jordan, and the European Union as an organisation. All EU Member States are members of the organisation, except for Cyprus and Malta, as these countries have no railways. The uniform rules on the carriage of passengers and goods (CIV and CIM) contained in the appendices to the Convention are applied on railways to the extent of more than 250,000 km.

69 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act and there was one abstention.

Four Bills passed the second reading

The amendments proposed by the Bill on Amendments to the Building Code (395 SE), initiated by the Government, are connected with the transposition into Estonian law of an amendment to the EU directive on road infrastructure safety management. Insofar as the scope of regulation of the directive has been expanded, as a result, the road safety measures provided for by the directive will also have to be implemented on all primary roads as well as public-use roads constructed with EU funds, in addition to roads of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), which has been the scope of application so far. On the basis of the directive, the competent authority, mostly the Transport Administration, will have to assess road safety impacts, carry out road safety audits, assess road safety on the road network, and undertake periodic checks on the safety of roads. When local governments construct roads with the involvement of EU funds in the future, the local governments will also have to perform the obligations of the competent authority on roads constructed by them with EU funds, in addition to the current TEN-T roads.

The main purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Public Information Act (409 SE), initiated by the Government, is to increase the availability and re-usability of open data to promote innovation and economy, the smooth functioning of the internal market and the promotion of the information society.

The amendments to the Bill will enforce the requirements for open data and the re-use of public sector information arising from a relevant EU directive. Another purpose of the Bill is to solve the practical shortcomings that have arisen upon the interpretation of the definition of open data and the principles relating to re-use provided for in the current Act.

The explanatory memorandum notes that public sector information has been gaining increasingly more importance and new meaning over the last nearly twenty years. As a result of the development of the data and platform economy, it has been realised that such information should be re-used as much as possible. At the European level, this awareness led to the adoption of the directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI directive) in 2003. It aimed to create favourable conditions for the development of the internal market. It was understood that public sector information is an important primary material for digital content products and services and will become an even more important content resource with the development of information technology opportunities. The wider re-usability of public information enabled European businesses, among other things, to make use of the potential of the information, and supported economic growth and the creation of jobs.

During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa) and Toomas Kivimägi (Reform Party) took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Covered Bonds Act and Other Acts (407 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose into the Covered Bonds Act an EU directive on the issue of covered bonds and covered bond public supervision and amending the requirements of related directives.

The Bill will create a better opportunity for credit institutions to issue covered bonds the cover assets of which are located in different Member States. This concerns particularly the Baltic countries as largely the same banking groups operate here and thereby it is possible to integrate more Baltic capital markets.

The direct target group of the Bill are in particular credit institutions, namely the credit institutions that have issued covered bonds or are planning to do so. More indirectly, the target group of the Bill are covered bond investors, the Financial Supervision Authority and debtors, that is, borrowers.

The explanatory memorandum notes that, as at February 2021, the banks in Estonia had issued bonds in the value of 1.5 billion euro, a large part of which is made up of covered bonds. In simple terms – the following claims can be converted into bonds: housing loans, loans to the Government, local governments and legal persons governed by public law, and loans to companies that are secured by commercial real estate.

The first motion to amend submitted between two readings of the Bill specifies the requirements set for credit institutions on application for authorisation to issue covered bonds. The second motion concerns the regulation of the performance of stress tests of covered bond portfolios. The third motion to amend specifies the requirements for the valuation of the assets securing mortgage credit. The fourth amendment simplifies the conditions as to when a valuation of assets performed before the entry into force of the Covered Bonds Act can be deemed to be in conformity with the requirements of the Covered Bonds Act.

The Bill on Amendments to the State Budget for 2021 Act (431 SE), initiated by the Government, has been drafted in accordance with the State Budget Act under which, in order to amend the state budget without amending the total amount of funds, the Government may initiate a draft State Budget Amendment Act not later than two months before the end of the budgetary year.

Considering that the State Budget for 2021 Act was prepared in the autumn of the preceding year and some of the funding needs have changed, it is expedient to initiate an amendment of the state budget to achieve more effectively the aims set by state agencies. The Riigikogu approved the seven motions to amend that had been submitted between two readings.

First reading – 15 Bills and draft Resolutions:

The Bill on Amendments to the Preschool Child Care Institutions Act (415 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction and Member of the Riigikogu Raimond Kaljulaid, is intended to eliminate parents’ obligation to pay the nursery fee. The target group of the amendments proposed in the Bill are in particular preschool children and their parents.

The explanatory memorandum notes that the Bill will increase the availability of preschool education, emphasise its importance and reduce the economic burden for parent(s). The elimination of nursery fee will facilitate parents’ quicker return to the labour market, which will also be beneficial to the national economy. The implementation of the Act will involve additional state budget expenditure. According to the calculations of the Ministry of Finance, the elimination of the nursery fee will involve an estimated additional expenditure of 40 million euro for the state budget.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Consolidated Report of 2020 of the State” (432 OE), submitted by the Government.

The Ministry of Finance has drawn up the consolidated report of 2020 of the state. The consolidated annual report is based on the reports of the state accounting entities and the accounting entities that are under the dominant influence of the state and other reports.

The aim of the consolidated annual report of the state is to give an overview of the achievement of the goals set in the state budget, and of the financial situation, financial result and cash flows of the state, and to enable the Riigikogu to exercise its auditing function with regard to the Government of the Republic. The consolidated annual report of the state includes the audit report of the National Audit Office.

During the debate, Aivar Sõerd (Reform Party) took the floor.

The motions to amend the State Export Guarantees Act proposed in the Bill on Amendments to the State Export Guarantees Act (423 SE), initiated by the Government, can be divided in two. The majority of the amendments are necessary to create the opportunity to grant state export guarantees also under the credit insurance contracts for short-term transactions that specify an insured person other than the guarantee holder. In addition, the limit on the amount of state export guarantees valid at the same time will be changed: the amount will be increased from the current 191 734 949 euro to 400 000 000 euro. The Bill will involve in particular an economic impact, which means an impact on the activities of companies and on the business environment. Indirectly, the Bill may also have an impact on regional development.

The explanatory memorandum to the Bill notes that the State Export Guarantees Act that entered into force at the end of 2009 provides for the bases for the grant of state export guarantees and specifies a credit insurance company founded by the state as the provider of state export guarantees. In 2010, KredEx Credit Insurance Ltd started operating as the organiser of state export guarantees. The grant of state export guarantees is regulated with legal acts of the European Union that set restrictions on guaranteeing with the support of the state the payment obligations arising for customers under both short- and long-term export transactions. The aim is to prevent countries from granting aid that distorts or threatens to distort competition and is therefore incompatible with the internal market.

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Consumer Protection Act (424 SE), initiated by the Government, is to increase consumers’ trust and confidence when concluding transactions online, as well as to update the regulation of unfair commercial practices in view of new technologies and digital opportunities in offering goods and services. The Bill will also enhance the sanctions for violation of the legal provisions established to protect consumer rights in order to ensure equal competition opportunities in the market.

The new penalty rates and the increasing of the current penalty rates will concern infringements relating to the provision of mandatory information to the consumer when offering of goods or services and the use of unfair commercial practices, including the requirements set out for informing about discounts as well as other requirements laid down in the Law of Obligations Act to protect consumer rights.

The Bill will transpose into Estonian law the relevant EU directive as regards the better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Composition of the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force” (444 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) with up to 24 servicemen.

The explanatory memorandum describes JEF as a coalition of the willing, which is initiated, owned, and led by the United Kingdom, with members from other countries. JEF brings together like-minded countries who share a common sense of danger and who are generally ready to contribute to operations quickly and flexibly over the whole range of warfare and crisis management activities, from humanitarian crises to conventional warfare. JEF can act independently or as part of a larger military unit. The use of JEF is flexible – the initiation of possible operations, or participation in these, is open to all or just interested Member States. Based on the joint decision of the Member States, JEF focuses on ensuring security in the Baltic Sea region and the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, thus enhancing the defence and deterrence stance in the Baltic states.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Training Mission in Mozambique” (445 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to five servicemen to the European Union Training Mission EUTM Mozambique.

The explanatory memorandum describes participation in the new EU military mission EUTM Mozambique as important for Estonia both from the foreign and defence policy point of view. One of Estonia’s priorities is to take part in carrying out the EU common security and defence policy, and develop cooperation with strategic allies on the EU southern flank. By participating in the mission, Estonia is contributing, in solidarity with the other Member States, towards an EU military operation. The mission is led by Portugal who puts great political focus on the events in Mozambique and has included it as one of the priorities of its current EU Presidency. For Estonia, it is important to show solidarity with Portugal because Portugal has contributed to the Baltic security by taking part in the NATO air policing mission four times in Šiauliai, Lithuania, in 2007, 2014, 2016, and 2018, and is planning to return in September 2021, and hopefully further on in the future. The support of Portugal as a NATO ally in strengthening the security on the eastern flank of the Alliance will remain important for Estonia and the Baltic Sea region more broadly.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the International Military Operation “Inherent Resolve”” (446 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participating in the international, US led military operation Inherent Resolve with up to ten servicemen.

The aim of the operation is to fight against ISIL, primarily in Iraq and Syria, and an important task is to train the Iraqi security forces. Inherent Resolve focuses on supporting stabilisation in Iraq and Syria after the physical defeat of ISIL, and it supports the Iraqi government in the field of security. In supporting the training of the Iraqi security forces, close cooperation is in place with NATO and the Iraqi government. ISIL has been significantly weakened through the actions of the coalition, and no longer controls areas of Iraq and Syria; however, ISIL has remained capable of organising attacks both within the region and across the globe.

The explanatory memorandum states that participation in international military operations provides proof of Estonia’s commitment to participate in burden-sharing for the benefit of achieving peace and stability around the world. The participation of the US led coalition of will also supports excellent allied relations between Estonia and the United States, as well as defence and security cooperation. The participation at the operation also gives the Defence Forces a major operational output that benefits the integral development of the Defence Forces.

Based on the need for training in Iraq and the possible need to adjust the emphasis of the operation, the number of servicemen provided in the draft (10) allows Estonia to make additional and flexible contributions to the operations, should the need arise. Estonian servicemen do not take part in military operations on the Syrian territory.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Mission in Iraq” (447 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participating in the NATO mission in Iraq with up to five servicemen.

NATO non-combat training and advisory mission NMI was established in Baghdad in October 2018. The work of the mission is directed against the threats emanating from the southern flank of the Alliance more broadly, helping Iraq to build sustainable, transparent, inclusive, and efficient security structures to enhance their capability in the fight against terrorism, preventing ISIL from returning, and stabilising the country. For this end, NATO provides advising to the Iraqi security structures. NMI trains the Iraqi security forces in close cooperation with the Iraqi government. NMI advises and provides training but does not take part in battle operations next to the Iraqi forces.

The explanatory memorandum states that participation in the mission in Iraq allows Estonia to actively contribute to grounding the threats emanating from the southern flank of the Alliance, contribute to NATO collective security, and support allies and partner countries in the fight against terrorism.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Military Mission EUNAVFOR Med/Irini” (448 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to six servicemen to the operation EUNAVFOR Med/Irini.

The primary goal of the EUNAVFOR Med/Irini operation is to support the implementation of the UN weapons embargo on Libya. This includes conducting inspections off the Libyan coast on ships suspected of transporting weapons or related materials to or from Libya, based on the UN Security Council resolution No 2292 (2016). In addition, the mission also supports applying UN measures to block illegal oil export from Libya, training and developing Libyan navy and border guards, and breaking down networks of trafficking and human smuggling.

In 2021, Estonia contributed two staff officers to the EUNAVFOR Med/Irini headquarters in Rome. In view of the importance of EUNAVFOR Med/Irini in responding to security challenges near the EU southern border, the number of servicemen provided in the draft (six) allows an additional contribution to the operation when need be.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Composition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Response Force” (449 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to 280 servicemen to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Response Force.

The establishment of the NATO Response Force (NRF) was decided at the Prague Summit in 2002. The NRF is a high-readiness unit capable of conducting military operations anywhere in the world. The NRF plays a key role in launching NATO’s short-notice collective defence operations. The NRF is commanded by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The decision to deploy the NRF is taken by the North Atlantic Council. Ensuring the full manning of the NRF is directly in Estonia’s national interests because the NRF ensures NATO’s commitment to deterrence and collective defence.

In addition, Estonia is meeting its allied duties by contributing to the NATO Readiness Initiative (NRI) since early 2021. The agreement on the NRI was reached at the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels. The purpose of the initiative is to improve the readiness of the allied forces to allow for a rapid response using national forces, incl. in situations of collective defence. These units would in that case complement the forces already in the NRF.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Training Mission and the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali” (450 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to ten servicemen to the EU Training Mission in Mali, and with up to five servicemen to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The objective of EUTM Mali is to support developing the military capability of the Malian armed forces, to make sure that Mali itself is capable of defending its population and territory, and to improve the security situation in Mali. In addition to that, it supports achieving political stability and implementing the Algiers peace agreement in order to enhance state authority and restoration of the rule of law throughout Mali. EUTM Mali supports the Sahel region more broadly by improving the operational capability of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and enhancing regional cooperation, focusing primarily on common security threats, in particular terrorism and human trafficking.

The EUTM Mali mandate is valid until 18 May 2024, and the operation area was extended to include other Sahel countries, i.e., Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. Next to Mali, other more prioritised countries are Burkina Faso and Niger.

The strategic objective of MINUSMA is to support the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. Another strategic aim of the mission is to facilitate the implementation of Mali’s broad strategy in order to protect civilians, reduce inter-community violence, and ensure the provision of the main public services particularly in central Mali. MINUSMA is applying its activities in carrying out the mandate, taking into account the developments in the region and enhancing coordination with other international and regional associations active in the region, as well as with G5 Sahel.

The explanatory memorandum refers to Mali’s challenges in increasing stability and security across the country, and Estonia is contributing through participation in international training cooperation. Through this cooperation, Estonia contributes to the common fight against the threats affecting Europe, including the fight against terrorism and the resolution of immigration issues.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (451 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to six servicemen to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Middle East.

UNTSO is the first UN peacekeeping mission that is purely an observation mission. The UNTSO activities are carried out in the Middle East, more specifically in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The mission HQ is located in Jerusalem. UNTSO military observers have been active in the region through decades, keeping the hostile sides apart and thus preventing the escalation of local conflicts into one big conflict hot spot in the Middle East.

The explanatory memorandum states that Estonia is contributing to ensuring security in crisis regions as a UN member state. Participation in UN missions has been important for Estonia, and is even more so now that Estonia has served as an elected member of the UN Security Council in 2020–2021. The participation of Estonian servicemen in UN operations helps to strengthen Estonia’s contribution to UN activities in securing peace.

Estonian military observers have been part of the UNTSO mission since 1997. As of 2014, Estonia’s contribution to the mission was increased to up to six servicemen with a Resolution of the Riigikogu. They man the positions of a military observer and a Senior Staff Officer. The maximum number of servicemen will remain six also in 2022.

Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in France’s Military Operation Task Force Takuba in Mali and Niger (former name “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in France’s Military Operation Barkhane in Mali”) (452 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to 75 servicemen to the French led military operation in Takuba Mali and Niger.

Participation in the operation as part of the Takuba special task force also helps to deepen the strategic relationship between Estonia and France, which is not only based on a shared value space but also a common understanding of the security environment and the threats affecting it. France is actively contributing to strengthening the NATO deterrence stance in the Baltic Sea region through the presence of its allied units in defence of the security of the Baltic states. Members of the French government and high-ranking officers have deeply appreciated Estonia’s contribution to the operation and have commended the service of Estonian servicemen.

In addition, participation in the operation and the Takuba special task force helps to ensure stability and better security in Mali and Niger. By training Malian armed forces, Estonia is helping Mali to build its capabilities toolbox to cement its own security and fight more efficiently against armed insurgents and terrorist groups in the region.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in Another International Military Operation Led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or its Member State, the European Union or the UN upon the First Contribution thereto” (453 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for the use of up to 50 servicemen under subsection 34 (1) of the National Defence Act, which provides that the Riigikogu determines annually by a resolution the number of servicemen who may participate in an international military operation led by NATO or a member state thereof, the EU, or the UN, upon contributing thereto for the first time. The exact nature and size of Estonia’s contribution depend on the needs of the specific operation and they will be decided by an order of the government according to the National Defence Act. The further use of the Defence Forces in the same operation will be decided through the general procedure by a resolution of the Riigikogu.

Conflicts and crises in various regions of the world may escalate unexpectedly and quickly and, if necessary, Estonia must be capable of deploying units of the Defence Forces to crisis and conflict regions quickly and flexibly in order to support international stability and thus also protect Estonia’s security interests. This mandate allows Estonia to respond as flexibly as possible to rapidly escalating situations that do not fall under other exemptions on allowing rapid response under the National Defence Act (e.g., participation in the NATO Response Force).

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon” (454 OE), submitted by the Government, allows to contribute with up to three servicemen to the UNIFIL mission (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon).

The UN peacekeeping mission plays an important stabilising role in Lebanon and the whole region, having a deterring effect on the spreading of violence. The main task of the mission is to observe the situation in the region, promote prevention of possible hostile activities, and ensure international peace and security, as well as support the government of Lebanon in cementing the state authority in the southern part of the country. The UNIFIL activities are carried out in the area between Litani River and the Blue Line (the border drawn between Israel and Lebanon by the UN on 7 June 2000).

As a UN member state, Estonia is contributing to ensuring security in crisis regions. As a country contributing towards collective security, Estonia is keeping a close eye on the events in the Middle East, and the security policy impact of events there on the stability in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Participation in UN missions has been important for Estonia, and is even more so now that Estonia has served as an elected member of the UN Security Council in 2020–2021. The participation of Estonian servicemen in UN operations helps to strengthen Estonia’s contribution to UN activities in securing peace.

The second reading of one Bill was suspended

On the motion of the leading committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and the Taxation Act (403 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended for the purpose of clarifications. The Bill creates the possibility to enter into more flexible employment contracts in retail.

The Auditor General Janar Holm gave an overview of the use and reserves of state assets in 2020–2021. Holm said that the annual State Budget Act has reached such a level of generalisation that violating it is pretty much as impossible as understanding it. He welcomed the amendment to the basic Act on the state budget, initiated by the Minister of Finance, with the goal of making the state budget a document with an actual content. However, problems with the state budget go much deeper than that. “I’m afraid I have come to believe that even after we pass the new Bill, the information laid out in the state budget would give neither the leaders nor the general public a clear understanding of where the money is going and what the impact of the funded activities is,” Holm said.

The Auditor General also said that the state authorities were not unaware that the Health Board would not be able to cope with resolving the crisis, but still the Board has been left to struggle alone with its tasks and problems. “As a consequence of this, when the crisis deepened, the authority that was appointed to resolve the crisis actually turned out to need help itself. Yet, as we entered the crisis, we had our pockets full of different crisis analyses that had been compiled over the years. They described quite precisely what would happen during an epidemic,” Holm said. He added that, despite all that, the identification of problems had not been followed by decisions on solutions.

Holm also spoke about liability. “Liability is often a hot mess. For example, this year we learned that a state authority might have tasks that it is not held liable for and that might fall on its contractual partners, builders, architects or others, instead. In other words, a mystical collective liability comes into play when a task needs to be fulfilled. When this mindset rears its head in state governance, things have gone badly wrong, because the liability seems to be everyone’s but is actually no one’s. We need to become more concrete again when attributing liability. Everyone must know their tasks and liabilities,” he said.

During the debate, Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party), Peeter Ernits (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), and Lauri Läänemets (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.

The sitting ended at 8.46 p.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Veiko Pesur
Phone: +372 631 6353, +372 5559 0595
E-mail: [email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

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