Ratas calls extraordinary Riigikogu session for bill to slash excise duties

Riigikogu.
Riigikogu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Center Party MPs on Wednesday proposed convening an extraordinary session of the Riigikogu for 9 a.m. on Friday to conduct the second reading of Isamaa's bill to lower the excise duty on diesel and gasoline to the minimum permitted level in the EU. President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) complied.

The proposal bears the signatures of 24 Center MPs. However, an extraordinary sitting requires at least 51 MPs to be present in a situation where the coalition of the Reform Party, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) that is currently being negotiated controls 56 seats in the 101-seat parliament, meaning that the sitting might not materialize on Friday.

The bill to amend the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act was introduced by Isamaa and passed its first reading on April 13.

Urmas Reinsalu, deputy head of the Isamaa party, told ERR on Wednesday that the party has not yet decided what to do about the sitting on Friday.

"The people of Estonia do not have to suffer because the Reform Party and Kaja Kallas have halted the parliament's work with their obstruction efforts," said Jaak Aab (Center), chairman of the Riigikogu Finance Committee, pointing to a bill to hike family and child benefits Reform are filibustering in the parliament that means no regular sessions can be held before the Riigikogu's summer break.

"Several countries have come to their citizens' aid in the conditions of soaring inflation. We learned of such a decision by the Latvian government today (Wednesday – ed.). Estonia cannot just look on. The price of fuel is breaking records and translating into the prices of other goods. The state can help people by lowering excise duties. We cannot afford a situation where Estonians will start refueling in Latvia in mass," Aab suggested.

The former public administration minister said that slashing duties has wide-ranging support in society and that he hopes the bill will be passed before Midsummer's.

The current duty for unleaded gasoline is €563 per 1,000 liters which the bill would lower to €359. The Center Party maintains that this would lower the price at the pump by 25 cents. The excise duty for diesel is €373 per 1,000 liters and would fall to €330.

Kallas: We will look into Latvia's measure

Latvia has decided to temporarily suspend its gasoline and diesel mandatory bioadditive requirement. This is expected to bring prices down by around 10 cents per liter and slow down inflation.

Isamaa MP Aivar Kokk asked Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on Wednesday whether lowering the excise duty is realistic and whether Estonia should also emulate Latvia.

Kallas replied that excise duty cuts have historically failed to reach the consumer, which is why she is not in favor of the universal instrument.

"We will be looking into Latvia's bioadditives decision in terms of whether that could have an effect. But it comes as just another example of how all countries are struggling with high fuel and energy prices.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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