Today the Riigikogu approved the Act on Amendments to the State Budget for 2017 Act which adjusts the budget expenditure in connection with changed needs. The total volume of the revenue and expenditure does not change as a result of that. The Act specifies the current year’s expenditure of ministries and other authorities. Amendments to the state budget for current year have been made every autumn in the same manner.
49 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on Amendments to the State Budget for 2017 Act (510 SE), initiated by the Government, and there were 20 abstentions.
The Government had submitted a total of 54 motions to amend to the Riigikogu. At the expense of the surplus of the co-funding of European funds, three million euro will be directed at the provision of social services, incl. the rehabilitation of children with special needs and elimination of the waiting list for technical aids. From the surplus of the co-funding, a total of 1.4 million euro will also be directed to agencies under the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Rural Affairs for procurement of laboratory devices. In the area of government of the Ministry of Education and Research, 2.4 million euro will be directed to the Government’s education expenditure support fund to local governments for teachers’ salary. Within the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs, 100 000 euro will be directed from the medicinal product budget surplus to Põlva Hospital, in order that they could better cooperate with Tartu University Hospital. Also, on account of the surplus of the medicinal product budget, 186 000 euro will go to the emergency medical care service and 14 000 euro for the helicopter field in Kihnu which is necessary to provide the emergency medical care service. A number of other amendments were made in redirecting the budget money.
The Riigikogu passed another Act:
The Act on Amendments to the Penal Code and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (changing of the treatment of juvenile offenders) (453 SE), initiated by the Government, creates a new system for treatment of juvenile offenders in Estonia and reduces the maximum length of detention imposed on minors. The bodies conducting proceedings will fulfil the role of the juvenile committees. The aim of the Act is to reduce repeated violations by minors.
The Act creates the possibility for a minor who has been taken into custody to be placed in a closed child care institution instead of prison. Instead of detention, the Act favours the use of other sanctions that are more suitable for minors and more effective.
In the case of minor violations, misdemeanour proceedings need not be commenced if the minor compensates for the damage caused. At the same time, the Act creates the possibility of using juvenile sanctions also in the case of 18-21-year-olds, where necessary, if a person’s level of development is that of a minor rather than an adult.
80 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and there was one abstention.
The Riigikogu passed a Resolution:
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Consolidated Report of 2016 of the State” (500 OE), submitted by the Government.
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, economic result and cash flows of the state, and to enable the Riigikogu to exercise its auditing function with regard to the Government. The report also to provides the Government with the opportunity to explain its activities and to submit the necessary information to the Riigikogu for making new budgetary decisions.
The document contains the management report (the general economic indicators of the state, the financial indicators of the public and the government sector, the number of government sector employees, labour expenses and the average wage, the implementation of the action plan and the internal audit systems of the state), the consolidated and unconsolidated annual accounts of the state, and additional information concerning local governments and public sector and government sector. The consolidated report also includes the audit report of the National Audit Office.
66 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution and there were three abstentions.
Five Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Salaries of Higher State Servants Act and Other Associated Acts (513 SE), initiated by the Government, will organise the salary system of higher state servants and prosecutors. The salary of higher state officials will depend on the consumer price index and the increase in receipt of the pension insurance part of social tax. The salary of prosecutors will depend on the income of the Prosecutor General.
The salary of prosecutors will depend on the amount of the salary of the Prosecutor General. By 1 April of each calendar year, the highest salary rate will be indexed by an index the value of which depends to the extent of 20 per cent of the increase of the consumer price index and to the extent of 80 per cent of the annual increase in receipt of the pension insurance part of social tax. The Prosecutor General, the Chancellor of Justice, the State Secretary and the Auditor General will be paid 20 percent of their salary on a monthly basis for representation expenses.
After the indexation, the highest salary rate calculated as a result of the indexation in the previous year will be deemed to be the highest salary rate for higher state servants in the following year. The first indexation will take place on 1 April next year, but in the case of the members of the Riigikogu, the President and the ministers, the change in the salary will take place during the following term of the Riigikogu.
During the debate, Artur Talvik and Jüri Adams from the Free Party Faction and Jürgen Ligi from the Reform Party Faction took the floor.
The Free Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 31 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 44 were against. The motion was not supported. The second reading was concluded.
The Bill on Amendments to the Persons Repressed by Occupying Powers Act and the Social Welfare Act (518 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for raising the repressed person’s allowance from 192 euro to 230 euro. A 230-euro social benefit will also be provided for for persons who were sent by force from Estonia to the nuclear disaster area to liquidate the consequences of the disaster.
Under the Bill on Amendments to the Family Benefits Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (517 SE), initiated by the Government, fathers will have the possibility to take paternity leave for 30 days instead of the current ten working days. A month that is intended for fathers will be added to the 18-month parental benefit period. The benefit will not be reduced if the income from work does not exceed a half of the maximum limit of the parental benefit, that is, 1544 euro per month in 2018. If a person earns more, a benefit to the extent of the parental benefit will always be ensured, which will be 470 euro next year. Also, parents will be able to decide for themselves if and how they wish to suspend and resume receiving the parental benefit in the first three years of their child’s life. The parental benefit will be calculated according to the 12 months preceding the pregnancy. Under the Bill, the allowance for triplets or higher order multiples will also be established, which will be 1000 euro per month for one parent until the children attain the age of 18 months.
During the debate, Heljo Pikhof from the Social Democratic Party Faction and Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction took the floor.
The Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (512 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish an expansion of the revenue base of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund by stages, and the transition of the expenditure from the state budget to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund in connection with that.
Under the current regulation, the revenue base of health insurance is constituted from the share of the social tax transferred into the state health insurance funds which accounts for 13 per cent of the payments for working person. Also, according to the current regulation, the funding of the services transferred under this Bill is a state budget obligation. The services are funded by either the Ministry of Social Affairs or the Health Board.
The Bill will establish an expansion of the revenue base of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund by stages, and the transition of the expenditure from the state budget to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund in connection with that. On 23 April, within the framework of the negotiations on the state budget strategy for 2018–2021, the Government approved the expansion of the revenue base of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and decided to contribute 7 per cent to its budget in 2018, 10 per cent in 2019, 11 per cent in 2020, 12 per cent in 2021 and 13 per cent in 2022 per pension of a non-working old-age pensioner.
During the debate, Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction, Monika Haukanõmm from the Free Party Faction and Jürgen Ligi from the Reform Party Faction took the floor.
The Free Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 31 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 41 were against. The motion was not supported. The second reading was concluded.
The Bill on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (514 SE), initiated by the Government, provides that the costs on medicinal products incurred by people with an increased treatment need will be compensated to them to a greater extent. This will improve the availability of medicinal products for people who incur high costs on medicinal products.
Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction took the floor during the debate.
Two Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Land Cadastre Act, the Earth’s Crust Act and the Spatial Data Act (533 SE), initiated by the Government.
In order that the Estonian Land Board could transfer the relevant functions related to the field of information and communications technology (ICT) to the Information Technology Centre of the Ministry of the Environment (KEMIT), it will be necessary to amend the legislation under which the Land Board is charged with the functions relating to the maintenance of information systems and registers. According to the Bill, the authorised processor of information systems relating to the consolidation of the ICT field of the Land Board will be appointed by a Regulation. In such a case there will be no need to amend the Act in the future in a situation where a change of the authorised processor is necessary.
The main aim of the Bill is to raise the efficiency of ICT administration and development and the security of information systems within the area of government of the Ministry of the Environment. The content services of the Land Board are based on information technology to the extent of 90 per cent. The explanatory memorandum notes that the distribution of responsibility is very important in the maintenance of the main national registers. In order that the functioning and development of information systems of national importance would be ensured, and no legal unclarity would arise in the distribution of official duties and the responsibility between the Land Board and the Information Technology Centre of the Ministry of the Environment, the competence of each authority in the maintenance of information systems needs to be provided as precisely as possible. The consolidation of ICT services under one authority of the area of government, whose function is to develop and administer the information systems of the authorities of the whole area of government of the ministry, will help reduce duplication and the resulting inefficiency in the provision of services.
The Bill on the Ratification of the Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, made in Kigali in 2016 (528 SE), initiated by the Government.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) are added into the scope of regulation of the Montreal Protocol. The major aim of the amendment is stepwise limitation of the use of HFC-s and thereby reduction of global climate warming. The abovementioned substances are used mainly in conditioning appliances in the cooling and freezing sector, in aerosols, in fire extinguishing systems and in foam production.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the limitation of the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer has been a global aim for more than 30 years already. The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was concluded on 22 March 1985, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was concluded on 16 September 1987. Estonia acceded to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol by the Act passed on 11 September 1996. The Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol have 197 states parties. The main aim of the Vienna Convention is to protect human health and the natural environment against adverse effects relating to the depletion of the ozone layer. The main aim of the Montreal Protocol is to limit the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, the final aim being to completely eliminate such substances from use.
The Kigali Amendment contains measures for reducing the HFC emissions and it helps implement the Paris Agreement as regards its objective to keep the global temperature increase well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. The Kigali amendment will enable to avoid a rise in global temperature by an estimated 0.5 degrees by the end of the 21th century. Thus the Kigali Amendment will have a significant positive impact on the natural and living environment.
The Kigali amendment was adopted at the 28th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 to 15 October 2016. The ratification of the amendments will involve no need to amend the Estonian legislation because a relevant directly applicable Regulation regulates HFC-s in the EU. The amendment will bring about an increase in the contribution relating to the Montreal Protocol from the current 80 838 USD to an estimated up to 187 000 USD.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201711221400.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
Your feedback is important. Please share it with us!