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At the sitting that started at 2pm on Wednesday and lasted until Thursday morning, the Riigikogu passed four Acts the adoption of which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government. The deliberation of three other Bills which have been declared to be a matter of confidence is deferred to the agenda for Thursday's sitting due to the end of the working hours.

The Riigikogu passed the Act 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. According to it, 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.

According to the Act, the support to people who resettle from abroad will no longer be paid to people who will settle in Estonia after 1 January 2024. As regards the people who are already receiving the return support, the grant of the support will be terminated on 1 April 2029. At present, 36 people are receiving the support.

Initially, the Bill had been intended 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. However, under an amendment made before the second reading, the relevant provisions had been omitted from the Bill and the principle currently in force had not been 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.

Before the second reading, the Government had also made an amendment 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 provisions regulating the employment support service. People with special needs have got long-term protected employment within the framework of a pilot project so far but as the trial period is ending, it 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 is established which formulates 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 is 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 this.

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. With earlier amendments, it had been 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 next year, and therefore the time of entry into force of the amendments relating to the closed child care institution service will be postponed until 1 July 2025.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October, and 50 motions to amend it had been submitted 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.

During the debate, Henn Põlluaas, Evelin Poolamets, Rain Epler, Anti Poolamets, Varro Vooglaid, Siim Pohlak, Ants Frosch and Alar Laneman from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, Mart Maastik, Urmas Reinsalu, Aivar Kokk and Riina Solman from Isamaa Parliamentary Group and Lauri Laats from the Estonian Centre Party Group took the floor. Unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal also made a speech. Members of the Riigikogu also participated in the debate already at the sitting this Tuesday.

58 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 35 were against.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act and the Health Services Organisation Act (beginner’s allowances) (293 SE), initiated by the Government, which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading. It makes the conditions for receiving the beginner’s allowance for pharmacists more flexible and also provides the possibility for nurses to apply for beginner’s allowance.

According to the amendments, the amount of the beginner’s allowance paid to pharmacists will be 15,000 euro per three years, and 25,000 euro with a working period of five years. At present, a beginner’s allowance of 15,000 euro per five years is in place. The Act establishes an opportunity of proportional repayment where the person terminates work earlier. The requirement to take up employment at a pharmacy located outside the cities that are poles of attraction with a workload of at least 30 hours per week remains in place as a requirement for receiving the allowance.

The amendments also provide for a beginner’s allowance for nurses who have been away from the healthcare sector in order to motivate them to return to the healthcare system. A nurse can apply for a beginner’s allowance if they have been registered as a nurse in the Health Care Providers’ Information System and have not been working as a nurse for at least the last five years. Similarly to medical specialists, a nurse can apply for a beginner’s allowance if they take up employment as a nurse with a workload of at least 30 hours per week at a hospital specified in the plan of the hospital network or at a provider of health care services providing general medical care outside Tallinn, Tartu, or local governments immediately bordering thereon. The amount of the beginner’s allowance will be 30,000 euro and the Health Board will begin to process the allowances.

The conditions and procedure for the payment of the beginner’s allowance have been in place for medical specialists since 2012 and for pharmacists since 2015. Since then, 94 doctors have been assigned to work away from the cities that are poles of attraction but the conditions for receiving the beginner’s allowance for pharmacists have not been flexible enough and therefore no pharmacist has received the beginner’s allowance so far.

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 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.

During the debate, Rain Epler, Rene Kokk, Kert Kingo, Jaak Valge, Henn Põlluaas, Evelin Poolamets, Ants Frosch, Helle-Moonika Helme, Varro Vooglaid, Alar Laneman, Arvo Aller, Leo Kunnas, Anti Poolamets and Siim Pohlak from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, Andre Hanimägi from the Estonian Centre Party Group and Priit Sibul, Mart Maastik, Riina Solman, Helir-Valdor Seeder and Aivar Kokk from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor. Unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal also made a speech.

58 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act and 31 voted against.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act (294 SE), initiated by the Government, which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading. It provides parents of small children better social guarantees for when they or their children fall ill and enables them better reconcile work and family life.

The amendment will solve a problem that has been repeatedly raised by the Chancellor of Justice and parents in recent years. It concerns the payment of sickness benefit and care benefit to parents during their first year of work after they return from parental leave. At present, when calculating the benefits for temporary incapacity for work, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund takes as the basis the personal income that the person has received in the calendar year preceding the starting date of their certificate of incapacity for work and on which social security contribution has been paid. If a parent has been at home with a child and has had no opportunity to earn income during the year preceding the date of their certificate of incapacity for work then, during the first year of their work after returning from parental leave, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays them sickness benefit and care benefit on the basis of an amount not exceeding the minimum remuneration.

The Act establishes a legal basis for the Estonian Health Insurance Fund to pay the parent or adoptive parent of a child under three years of age, in their first year of work after their parental leave, sickness benefit and care benefit either on the basis of the income of the parent in the previous calendar year on which social security contribution has been paid, or on the basis of the amount of the shared parental benefit that has been paid to them during their parental leave. The option that is more favourable to the person will be taken as the basis. The Act will enter into force on July 1 next year.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October, and members of the Riigikogu had submitted 100 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.

During the debate, Rene Kokk, Kert Kingo, Evelin Poolamets, Henn Põlluaas, Varro Vooglaid, Anti Poolamets, Rain Epler, Helle-Moonika Helme, Alar Laneman, Arvo Aller, Siim Pohlak and Leo Kunnas from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, Andre Hanimägi from the Centre Party Group and Riina Solman, Priit Sibul, Tõnis Lukas, Mart Maastik, Helir-Valdor Seeder and Aivar Kokk from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor. Unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal also made a speech.

54 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 30 were against.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Land Tax Act and the Taxation Act (297 SE), initiated by the Government, which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading. It amends the rules for electronic delivery of documents in order to enhance tax proceedings.

According to the amendments, in the future, in the case of legal persons, documents will be deemed to be delivered once five working days have passed since they were uploaded to e-tax board or forwarded to e-mail. At present, for documents to be deemed to be delivered, the legal person must either open the documents in e-tax board or confirm by e-mail that they have received the documents.

The Act also restricts the right of natural persons to receive documents on paper. The person will lose this right once they have already received the document electronically. The amendments will enter into force on 1 January next year.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October, and members of the Riigikogu had submitted 200 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.

During the debate, Henn Põlluaas, Rain Epler, Evelin Poolamets, Anti Poolamets, Varro Vooglaid, Siim Pohlak, Arvo Aller, Rene Kokk, Helle-Moonika Helme, Kert Kingo, Leo Kunnas and Alar Laneman from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group and Mart Maastik from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor. Unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal also took the floor.

56 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 26 were against.

In addition, the Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the State Budget for 2023 Act (303 SE), initiated by the Government. It amends the distribution of expenditure by activities in programmes and the distribution of funds between expenditure and investments in this year’s state budget. According to the State Budget Act, the Government may initiate an amendment of the State Budget Act without amending the total amount of funds not later than two months before the end of the budgetary year.

Before the third reading, the Finance Committee had drafted a motion to amend consisting of several amendments and specifying expenditure. It had also included a provision in the Bill according to which the Act will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Riigi Teataja.

During the debate, Siim Pohlak from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group and Urmas Reinsalu from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor.

55 members of the Riigikogu supported the passing of the Act and 21 voted against.

The deliberation of a Bill which had been declared to be a matter of confidence was adjourned

The deliberation of the Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act, the Health Insurance Act and the Health Services Organisation Act (299 SE), initiated by the Government, which had been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading, was adjourned in the Riigikogu due to the end of working hours. The Bill will bring the Medicinal Products Act into conformity with EU law, reduce the administrative burden for the medicinal product market participants, and help improve the availability of medicines and develop pharmacy services.

While at present a proof of delivery and receipt must be drawn up and signed when medicines are disposed of at a pharmacy, according to the amendments, consumers will be allowed to dispose of waste medicines under a simplified procedure. Pharmacies will also be given an opportunity to conduct counselling on carrying medicines when travelling, and to issue the Schengen certificates necessary for carrying medicines when travelling, alongside with the State Agency of Medicines. Among other things, in the future, pharmacies will also be able to issue to other pharmacies medicinal products prepared in accordance with a medical prescription or retailed which will enable patients to receive medicines at pharmacies convenient to them.

In addition, the amendments will improve the availability of medicines without a marketing authorisation in situations where there are no other opportunities to treat a chronic or life-threatening condition and the availability of innovative medicines and methods remains the only possible solution for the patient. The Bill will also update the regulation of marketing authorisations and the requirements for advertising medicinal products.

The Bill initiated by the Government had passed the first reading in the Riigikogu on 18 October, and 203 motions to amend it had been submitted 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.

During the debate, Varro Vooglaid, Rain Epler, Arvo Aller, Kert Kingo, Rene Kokk, Evelin Poolamets and Helle-Moonika Helme from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group took the floor. Unaffiliated Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal also 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 which has been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government will be held.

The deliberation of two other Bills which have been declared to be a matter of confidence is deferred

The deliberation of two Bills initiated by the Government which have been declared to be a matter of confidence in the Government before the second reading – the Bill on Amendments to the Earth’s Crust Act (296 SE) and the Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act and the Road Transport Act (302 SE) – and five other drafts initiated by the Government will be deferred from the agenda for Wednesday’s sitting of the Riigikogu due to the end of the working hours. 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), the Bill on Amendments to the Building Code and Other Acts (acceleration of the deployment of renewable energy) (308 SE), the Bill on Amendments to the Information Society Services Act and the Penal Code (224 SE), 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) and the Bill on the Ratification of the Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (226 SE) will be deferred.

The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (76 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Varro Vooglaid, the Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act (243 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Mart Maastik, the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Riigikogu committee of investigation to investigate the facts relating to the influencing of elections by the Liberal Citizen Foundation” (251 OE), initiated by Isamaa Parliamentary Group, the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (85 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Anti Poolamets, Helle-Moonika Helme and Varro Vooglaid, the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (80 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Evelin Poolamets, Arvo Aller and Martin Helme, the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (84 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas and Anti Poolamets, and the Bill on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (83 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Kert Kingo and Rene Kokk, will also be deferred.

Motions to close the sitting earlier were not supported

At around one o’clock at night, Isamaa Parliamentary Group moved to shorten the time of Wednesday’s sitting and to close the sitting at 1.30 a.m., but the plenary did not support the motion. 30 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 54 were against.

At around 6.30 a.m. Member of the Riigikogu Helle-Moonika Helme moved to close the sitting at 7.15 a.m. but the Riigikogu did not support that motion either. 26 members of the Riigikogu supported the shortening of working time and 54 voted against it.

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
Karin Kangro
+372 631 6356, +372 520 0323
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

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