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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-09-24 11:17:12
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Estonian parliament plans to approve EFSF bill on September 29

Estonia plans to ratify the European Financial Stability Facility on Sept. 29 after voting to approve the bill in the first reading two days earlier, said Sven Sester, head of the parliament’s finance committee. The ruling coalition, which has a six-seat majority, and the Finance Ministry say the EFSF bill doesn’t contradict Estonian legislation as opposition Social Democrats contend, Sester, a member of junior coalition partner Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit, said today in a telephone interview from Tallinn.

Even so, the finance committee tomorrow will discuss a draft bill to align the country’s budget law with the European Union’s rescue fund and the parliament may vote on it on Sept. 27 together with the EFSF bill, Sester said. The EFSF bill requires a simple majority in two readings to be passed, he said. The Social Democrats said yesterday amendments to the EFSF can’t be passed without changes to the budget law, potentially delaying planned ratification beyond next week. Approval is facing delays in other eastern European countries, with Slovakia’s Freedom and Solidarity, one of the nations’ ruling parties, opposing a more powerful EFSF. Slovenia’s decision is in question after Prime Minister Borut Pahor’s government lost a confidence vote earlier this week.

Estonia’s Social Democrats control 19 seats in the 101- member Riigikogu, while the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s Reform Party and Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit hold 56. The opposition Centre Party of Tallinn mayor and former Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar, which commands 26 seats, will oppose the EFSF bill as the guarantee of up to 1.995 billion Euros ($2.7 billion) exceeds Estonia’s financial resources, the party said in an e-mailed statement today.


Readiness to prevent nuclear catastrophe must be improved

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said at the UN's high-level meeting on nuclear safety in New York today that the events at Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan were a wake-up call for the entire world's nuclear power industry. "What happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant showed that even in a country with a very highly advanced nuclear technologies and high safety standards, accidents can happen and that this risk cannot be underestimated," Paet said in his address.

Paet noted that the share of nuclear energy in the world's energy output will presumably grow in future. "Many countries will not abandon nuclear energy generation, as it helps them decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Estonia also considers it important that energy resources be as multifaceted as possible."

The Estonian foreign minister stressed that to increase the safety of nuclear power, cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency is very important, as is, based on the lessons from Fukushima, improving readiness to stave off nuclear disaster. "It is important now to ensure transparency and restore confidence in nuclear energy," added Paet. The high-level nuclear safety themed meeting convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is aimed at having an international discussion for the peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy.


Employers reject ministry plan to consolidate reserves

An employers’ lobby rejected a proposal to consolidate reserves of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund under the management of the State Treasury, claiming the fund could become unable to fulfil its tasks. The Finance Ministry said this month it plans to consolidate the management of all assets of state institutions under the Treasury from 2012, eliminating the government’s need to borrow elsewhere by 2015.

The fund’s assets could be transferred to the Treasury only if the parties involved sign a loan agreement which would require negotiations between the board of the fund and the Finance Ministry, as well as amending the unemployment insurance law, the council of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation said in an e-mailed statement today.

Consolidating reserves under the Treasury would cut the planned state debt to 5.3 percent of gross domestic product by 2015 from an April forecast of 11.8 percent, the ministry said Sept. 7. Estonia had the lowest level of public debt in the 27- member European Union last year, at 6.6 percent of GDP.

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