The Estonian government is slated to put the finishing touches on the coalition's pension reform bill at an extraordinary meeting on Monday, after which it will send the bill to a vote in the Session Hall of the Riigikogu on Wednesday already, daily Postimees writes.
As the bill has been tied to a confidence vote, the government is essentially going all out with the pension reform, as its adoption will be weighed against the survival of the government. Such a plan was considered at the end of last year already, when making the second pension pillar voluntary, an initiative led by the coalition Isamaa, reached the Riigikogu.
The government held a phone meeting on Friday in which it supported Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' (Center) proposal to tie the adoption of the pension reform bill in the Riigikogu to the issue of confidence. The government can tie any bills it initiates to a vote of confidence in the government. However, this cannot be done with bills initiated by MPs, committees or parliamentary groups. As the pension reform bill was submitted by the government, this condition has been met.
Essentially, this now means that the government took over the bill, initiated and sent to the Riigikogu by the government, from the Finance Committee of the Riigikogu, which had been handling it in the Riigikogu on Friday. The government then had to draft a new text for the bill, review amendment proposals, update the accompanying letter of explanation and then return it to the Riigikogu.
Nearly a thousand proposals had been submitted for amendments to the pension reform bill, and the government was able to disregard most of them. It is likely that the government will take into account namely those five coalition-initiated ideas highlighted by Finance Committee chairman Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) following Tuesday's meeting of the committee.
Tying the bill to a vote of confidence in the government allows them to prevent votes over the opposition's amendment proposals in the Riigikogu. This way, the coalition can avoid a delay tactic — in this case, the process of voting over nearly a thousand proposed amendments and the opposition being able to take breaks during plenary sittings. According to Kokk, voting over the more than 950 amendment proposals submitted by the opposition would take up to a month. Tying the bill to a vote of confidence enables the government to adopt the bill much more quickly.
The coalition's plan is for one of the main election promises of Isamaa — making the second pension pillar voluntary — to be adopted as soon as possible. The deadline for the bill to enter into force is January 1, 2021.
Although the government's plan to make the second pension pillar voluntary and give people the opportunity to withdraw money accrued in the pillar has received a lot of criticism from interest groups, institutions and the Bank of Estonia, the bill cleared its first reading in the Riigikogu on December 2, 2019.
The government is planning to discuss the new text of the bill and the amendment proposals submitted to it on Monday. This will leave exactly one day — as prescribed by law — between its submission and the Riigikogu sitting on Wednesday, when the bill is to be put to its second reading.
Editor: Aili Vahtla