Riigikogu
Riigikogu
Skip navigation

Riigikogu

At the sitting that started at 2pm on Wednesday and lasted until Thursday morning, the Riigikogu passed five Acts the adoption of which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government. The deliberation of the State Budget for 2024 Bill was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the sitting and will continue at Thursday’s sitting.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the State Fees Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (298 SE), initiated by the Government and declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading. It changes the rates for the state fees for environmental protection permits, and the state fees related to the maritime sector and land transport.

The Act updates the rates of the state fees for the grant of environmental protection permits, and the state fees in the maritime sector, in the land transport sector of the Transport Administration, and for the application for building permits and occupancy permits for similar facilities. The rates for the state fees for the acts of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority are also increased, and a new state fee for the submission of a forest notification are established. According to the amendments made for the second reading, the rates of the state fees for acts performed under the Hunting Act are also updated and the amount of the fairway dues in the Maritime Safety Act are reduced in 2024. According to the explanatory memorandum, the amendments are necessary because the state fees no longer cover the actual costs relating to them.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October and 406 motions to amend it had been submitted by the deadline. On 23 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and had 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.

Rain Epler and Martin Helme from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group and unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal took the floor during the debate. Members of the Riigikogu also participated in the debate already at the sitting this Tuesday. The Minister of Climate Kristen Michal made a report and participated in the debate as representative of the Government.

55 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 27 were against it.

The Act on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act, the Forest Act and the Industrial Emissions Act (300 SE), initiated by the Government and declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading, raises the rates for the pollution charges in the waste, water and ambient air sectors from 1 July next year. New charge rates are established for the release of pollutants into ambient air, water bodies, groundwater, and soil, as well as for disposal of hazardous waste and oil shale waste.

The Act provides that the environmental charges concerning ambient air, water, hazardous waste and oil shale waste will rise gradually in 2024–2027. The annual increase in the charge rates will be based on the environmental impact and hazardousness of pollutants, and the need to reduce the release of pollutants into the environment. According to the explanatory memorandum, the pollution charge rates have remained unchanged for years and are no longer adequate for pricing the use of the environment.

The maximum rate of the oil shale extraction charge is also increased. The deforestation rights charge is included in the Environmental Charges Act as a new type of charge in order to limit the decrease in the area of forest lands. In addition, the limits for the fishing rights charge are increased.

The amendments made for the second reading provide for the possibility to issue integrated environmental permits with a time limit in the Industrial Emissions Act. Also, 0.35 euro per ton is added to the rates of the charges for disposal of oil shale ash, and gas-decontamination waste, which is generated upon producing cement and contains hazardous substances or solid alkaline gas-decontamination waste. The aim is to direct these funds to Ida-Viru County through the environmental programme to mitigate the damages caused by the oil shale industry, for nature conservation, and to improve the living environment. According to the Minister, the volume of the Ida-Viru County sub-programme in the environmental programme will probably be about 2.3 million euro a year.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 23 October and 202 motions to amend it had been submitted by the deadline. On 23 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and had 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, the Minister of Climate Kristen Michal made a report as representative of the Government. Each member of the Riigikogu could ask up to two oral questions of him. Thereafter, the debate began where Kert Kingo, Jaak Valge, Martin Helme, Varro Vooglaid, Alar Laneman, Henn Põlluaas, Evelin Poolamets, Rain Epler, Anti Poolamets, Arvo Aller, Siim Pohlak and Leo Kunnas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, Aivar Kokk, Andres Metsoja and Mart Maastik from Isamaa Parliamentary Group, Tanel Kiik from the Estonian Centre Party Group and Igor Taro from Estonia 200 Parliamentary Group as well as unaffiliated Members of the Riigikogu Tõnis Mölder and Kalle Grünthal took the floor.

57 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 32 were against it.

The Act on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act and the Land Register Act (301 SE), initiated by the Government and declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading, eliminates the right of pre-emption that the state has upon transfer of immovables containing natural objects.

At present, the state has a right of pre-emption upon transfer of an immovable located within the boundaries of a shore building exclusion zone, in a protection site of a species in the protected category I or in the limited management zone of a protected natural monument, in a protected area or in a limited-conservation area. In recent years, the state has assessed the application of a right of pre-emption in respect of thousands of purchase and sale transactions but has not used it. According to the explanatory memorandum, the elimination of the right of pre-emption will reduce the workload of administrative bodies in the transfer of immovables containing natural objects and will speed up the conclusion of purchase and sale transactions.

For the purpose of economising, the Act introduces an amendment according to which damage caused by animals will not be compensated if no state budget funds have been earmarked for the compensation of damages caused by animals ranking lower in the priority list of applications. At the same time, the Act increases the threshold for the compensation of the costs incurred to prevent damages caused by animals in order to avoid or prevent damage that might otherwise have to be compensated.

Among other amendments, the Act provides the possibility to choose whether a notice concerning the initiation of the proceedings for placing a natural object under protection is published in a national daily newspaper or in a local newspaper and not in both as provided by current procedure. The Act also eliminates the requirement to ask for a separate permission when persons carrying out state monitoring or research commissioned by the manager of the protected area need to move around in areas that are under movement restrictions in protected areas.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 24 October and 205 motions to amend it had been submitted by the deadline. On 23 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and had 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, the Minister of Climate Kristen Michal made a report as representative of the Government. Kert Kingo, Jaak Valge, Martin Helme, Henn Põlluaas, Anti Poolamets, Evelin Poolamets, Arvo Aller, Rain Epler, Alar Laneman, Varro Vooglaid, Leo Kunnas and Siim Pohlak from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, Andres Metsoja from Isamaa Parliamentary Group and Igor Taro from Estonia 200 Parliamentary Group as well as unaffiliated Members of the Riigikogu Tõnis Mölder and Kalle Grünthal and the Minister of Climate Kristen Michal took the floor during the debate.

59 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 32 were against it.

The Act on Amendments to the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act and Other Acts (305 SE), initiated by the Government and declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading, cuts the salary rise of members of the Government, judges, and some other higher state servants in 2024–2028.

The Act limits the pay rise for Prime Minister and ministers, the Prosecutor General, the State Secretary, justices of the Supreme Court, judges of circuit court of appeal, district court and administrative court, the Public Conciliator, and the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner from 1 April next year to 31 March 2028. Their pay rise will be cut by 50 per cent compared to the provisions of the current Act. Thus, their salary should increase by 5.5 per cent instead of the 11 per cent projected for next spring. According to the amendments, the estimated pay rise would be 3.5 per cent in 2025, 2.8 in 2026, and 2.3 in 2027. According to the Act, the salaries will rise to the former level on 1 April 2028 when the state servants whose pay rise has been limited will have a 17-per cent pay rise.

In addition, the pay rise cut will affect the salaries of secretary generals, prosecutors, assistant judges, and law clerks, as well as chairmen of labour dispute committees, and the chairman and members of the Public Procurement Appeal Committee which are linked to the salaries specified in the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act. According to the Minister of Finance, the amendments will help save 20.4 million euro over five years in the state budget.

According to an amendment made to the Bill for the second reading, the reduction of the salary rate index will not affect the amount of the pension of retiring judges and prosecutors. If a judge or prosecutor retires in the period 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2028, the salary that they would have received if the salary rate index had not been reduced will be taken as the basis when calculating the amount of their pension.

The Act does not amend the salaries of the members of the Riigikogu, the President of the Republic, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Auditor General, or the Chancellor of Justice, or the Chairman or members of the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Estonia, or the procedure for the indexation of their salaries. According to the explanatory memorandum, the Government had abandoned the cutting of the pay rise for the heads of constitutional institutions in order to refrain from crumbling the constitutional system when drawing up the state budget. The Constitution allows to change the remuneration of members of the Riigikogu only in respect of the next Riigikogu.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October and 200 motions to amend it had been submitted by the deadline. On 23 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and had 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, the Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev made a report as representative of the Government. Tanel Kiik from the Estonian Centre Party Group, Anti Poolamets, Siim Pohlak, Arvo Aller, Henn Põlluaas, Evelin Poolamets, Varro Vooglaid, Rain Epler, Kert Kingo, Alar Laneman, Martin Helme, Leo Kunnas and Rene Kokk from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group and Helir-Valdor Seeder, Riina Solman and Aivar Kokk from Isamaa Parliamentary Group as well as unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal took the floor during the debate.

59 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 23 were against it.

The Act on Amendments to the State Budget Act (304 SE), initiated by the Government and declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading, changes the rules for the general government balance that are the basis for drafting the state budget. The amendment will bring Estonian national budget rules into conformity with the limits allowed under European Union law and international agreements, and the stricter requirements that have been in place so far will be eliminated. They have proved too restrictive in budget planning particularly during big economic crises and when exiting the crises.

Before the second reading, an amendment was made to the Bill in regard to the conditions of when the medium-term budgetary objective for the lower limit for the structural deficit is allowed to reach one per cent of GDP. The amendment provides that when the public debt to GDP ratio at current prices is below 30 per cent and the long-term sustainability risks of public finances are low, the medium-term budgetary objective for the structural deficit is allowed to reach up to one per cent of GDP at current prices. Thus, the permitted level of public debt is reduced from 60 to 30 per cent and the relevant conditions will remain in place until 31 December 2029.

While initially the Bill had provided that the Stabilisation Reserve Fund would be consolidated with the liquidity reserve in order to save on the interest costs covered from the state budget, this was abandoned with the amendments made for the second reading. At the same time, an amendment was introduced in the Act according to which the objective of the administration of the Stabilisation Reserve Fund in the long-term is to increase the value and maintain sufficient liquidity of the funds of the Stabilisation Reserve Fund.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October and 199 motions to amend it had been submitted by the deadline. On 23 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and had 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, the Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev made a report as representative of the Government. Henn Põlluaas, Varro Vooglaid, Arvo Aller, Anti Poolamets, Siim Pohlak, Evelin Poolamets, Martin Helme, Kert Kingo, Rain Epler, Alar Laneman, Rene Kokk and Leo Kunnas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group and Priit Sibul and Urmas Reinsalu from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor during the debate. Unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal also participated in the debate.

59 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 29 were against it.

The deliberation of the state budget for 2024 was adjourned

The second reading of the State Budget for 2024 Bill (306 SE), initiated by the Government and 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. According to the Bill, the revenue of the next year’s state budget will amount to 16.8 billion euro and the expenditure will be 17.7 euro. Compared to this year, revenues will grow by 7.7 per cent and expenditure will grow by 4.9 per cent.

Next year, a total of 1.9 billion euro will be directed into the economy as investments and investment subsidies, 1.1 billion euro of which will come from European Union subsidies and 0.82 billion euro from the state budget. The structural deficit in the state budget will remain at 1.2 per cent, and the nominal deficit will be 2.9 per cent of GDP, according to the Bill.

The priorities of the next year’s state budget are the military and comprehensive national defence of Estonia, economic growth together with green reforms and the sustainability of public finances, education, increasing the cyber security capability, and supporting Ukraine.

According to the Bill, in 2024, Estonia’s defence budget will exceed three per cent of GDP for the first time, amounting to 3.2 per cent of GDP, and the state will contribute over 1.3 billion euro to national defence. The agreement to allocate one per cent of GDP to research funding is also kept in the Bill on the state budget. 71,9 million euro has been planned for the transition to Estonian-language education, and nearly 24 million for teachers’ pay rise. An additional 23 million euro will be invested next year to ensure the soundness of the basic national IT infrastructure, and cybersecurity.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October and 745 motions to amend it had been submitted by the deadline. On 23 November, the Government had decided to declare the passing of the Bill a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading and had 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, the Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev made a report as representative of the Government. During the debate, Jaak Aab from the Estonian Centre Party Group and Mart Maastik and Helir-Valdor Seeder from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor. The debate on the Bill will continue at Thursday’s sitting. After the end of the debate, a final vote on the Bill will be held.

The deliberation of 17 other Bills and draft Resolutions will be deferred

The second reading of nine draft Resolutions and the first reading of eight draft Resolutions and Bills will also be deferred due to the end of the working hours of the sitting.

The second reading of 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” (310 OE), 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 Operation in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (311 OE), 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” (312 OE), 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 Operation in Lebanon” (313 OE), 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 Readiness Units” (314 OE), 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” (315 OE), 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 in Mozambique” (316 OE), the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in International Military Operations Led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or its Member State, or the European Union, and in other International Military Operations Led by the United Nations, upon the First Contribution thereto” (317 OE) and 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 Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI” (318 OE), submitted by the Government, will be deferred.

The first reading of the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “The Grating of a State Guarantee to the European Investment Bank to Support the Reconstruction of Ukraine” (336 OE), submitted by the Government, the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of a Member of the Supervisory Board of the Bank of Estonia Who Is a Specialist in the Field” (348 OE), submitted by the Finance Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Building Code and Other Acts (acceleration of the deployment of renewable energy) (308 SE), initiated by the Government, the Bill on Amendments to the Imprisonment Act, the Penal Code, the Probation Supervision Act and the Code of Enforcement Procedure (updating of the Imprisonment Act and the deployment of digital solutions) (227 SE), initiated by the Government, the Bill on the Ratification of the Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (226 SE), initiated by the Government, the Bill on Amendments to the Information Society Services Act and the Penal Code (224 SE), initiated by the Government, the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (76 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Varro Vooglaid, and the Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act (243 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Mart Maastik, will also be deferred.

The sitting ended when the chair of the sitting declared a recess at 9.30 on Thursday.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

Video recording will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
+372 631 6592, +372 510 6179
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

Feedback