Members of the Riigikogu Sven Sester, Raivo Tamm, Mihhail Lotman, Urmas Reinsalu, Andres Metsoja, Priit Sibul, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Üllar Saaremäe and Tarmo Kruusimäe had submitted an interpellation concerning the classification of important crisis information as for internal use (No 59) to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
The interpellators noted that, in light of the COVID-19, it is important that the Government’s decisions be made transparently and that they be clearly understandable. Unfortunately, several current decisions of the Government as well as further activities in containing the spread of coronavirus have been classified. Reliable information from the authorities in charge in crisis and from the Government is of crucial importance in the circumstances of crisis because they increase the trust of Estonian society, businesses, media and experts in crisis management and offer the necessary stability.
Kallas explained that the reports contained overviews by administrative agencies that were necessary for making decisions. “And I would like to draw attention to the fact that they are not classified as you claim but they are for internal use,” Kallas said. She referred to the fact that they were intended for internal use because it had been assessed whether the information contained in the report was intended for internal use under the Public Information Act or not. It was for the lawyers of the authorities to decide. The Government has forwarded briefing information relating to coronavirus to members of the Riigikogu. “It was my wish that members of the Riigikogu be in the same information space as the members of the Government, that is, the same report of the situation centre that the Government sees is shared with you,” Kallas said.
Prime Minister explained that information concerning the duties and staff of a structural unit and officials and employees and the duties of the officials and employees of a holder of information engaged in ensuring of internal security, development of national defence policy, organisation of national defence, including planning, preparation and conduct of national military defence, or organisation of the protection of state secrets and classified information of foreign states, where the disclosure of such information endangered national defence or protection of state secrets and classified information of foreign states, as well as any other information provided by law was intended for internal use.
As for the situation that had emerged in the economy, Kallas noted that the additional restrictions arising from coronavirus had hit many business sectors. “By today the Government has also approved the draft Regulations on support measures established by ministers. All this serves the purpose of implementing the compensation mechanisms as soon as possible so that businesses who are struggling would receive this help quickly,” Kallas explained.
Prime Minister admitted that the vaccination of people has also been accompanied by scarce disclosure of information and a great confusion. The vaccination pace is slow, the vaccination of the people on risk lists and priority lists is irregular and the vaccination is geographically uneven. “The main problem with the vaccination is that we have a vaccine deficit. The supplies we have agreed upon are not received on time and consequently we cannot give the jabs quickly,” Kallas said. She added that all vaccines that arrived were used up as quickly as possible. “The greatest problem with the vaccination is that the vaccination plan was not prepared earlier.
For better organisation of the vaccination through family physicians, we have had great help from the vaccine ordering system made by Sixfold that takes into account the size of the risk groups of family physicians and enables family physicians to trace logistically how far their vaccine is at any moment. Family physicians are generally happy with the ordering system.
Kallas said that, thanks to the decisions of the previous Government, Estonia was also participating in the joint procurement of vaccines against COVID-19. Within the framework thereof, by today, the anti-COVID-19 vaccines of eight producers are in the “European vaccine portfolio” in order to spread risks that may be realised in the roll-out of vaccines. By today, we have entered into advance purchase agreements at European Union level with six vaccine producers out of eight producers. They are AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Curevac and Pfizer-BioNTech. Among them, four producers have achieved a marketing authorisation: AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
In Kallas’s words, Estonia has applied for nearly four million vaccine doses in total under advance purchasing agreements, which will cover the vaccination of over two million people. In April and May, 939,536 doses are expected to be delivered, 70,620 doses of which have been received by now. “There is no need to be too optimistic that all the doses I spoke of will be received, because so far the projected quantities have not corresponded to the actual deliveries,” Prime Minister said.
“We have been in close communication with the European Commission and other Member States in order to receive additional doses. By today, our situation has been taken into account so that we have received 150,000 additional doses from Pfizer-BioNTech under a recent decision and 215,000 doses of vaccine in total then,” Kallas said.
In the questions and answers session, there was a lively debate on the content and extent of the information shared between Prime Minister and members of the Riigikogu.
During the debate, Sven Sester (Isamaa), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa), Andres Metsoja (Isamaa) and Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) took the floor.
Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani replied to the interpellation concerning the grant of citizenship (No 58), and Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna replied to the interpellation concerning the situation of the education in Estonian in Ida-Viru County (No 62), submitted by members of the Riigikogu.
During the open microphone, Andres Metsoja took the floor.
The sitting ended at 6.31 p.m.
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.)
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