Eesti in brief - 2012-05-17

  • 2012-05-16

Estonian Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (PRU) chairman Urmas Reinsalu gave on Monday an oath of office in the Riigikogu as Estonia’s new Defense Minister, reports Postimees Online. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves appointed Reinsalu as the new Defense Minister at Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s proposal last Friday. Defense Minister Mart Laar submitted his resignation on May 6 due to health reasons since he suffered a stroke two months ago and his recovery has been slower than hoped for. Since then, Education and Science Minister Jaak Aaviksoo has also fulfilled the Defense Minister’s tasks. When Laar recovers, he will take a seat in the Riigikogu.

A fresh analysis by the auditing company KPMG indicated that Estonia’s tax rates are average as compared to other European states, reports Public Broadcasting. The analysis indicated that the average VAT in Europe has increased to 19.86 percent, while the corporate income tax has fallen to 20.73 percent. “Thus Estonia’s 20 percent VAT and 21 percent corporate income tax rate are almost exactly equal to the European average,” said KPMG Baltics tax and legal service manager Joel Zernask. The analysis indicated that more than 20 European states had changed one or several tax rates over the year.

The Estonian Riigikogu approved on May 10 the higher education reform law that President Toomas Hendrik Ilves refused to promulgate in February, reports Public Broadcasting. The parliament introduced a number of changes in the law concerning restrictions set on students to take classes while they are on a study leave, the regulation of compensating study costs and allocation of operating support to universities. President Ilves decided not to promulgate the controversial higher education reform law in February, saying that the law contradicts the Constitution. The higher education reform provides free education to the students who fulfill the study plan fully, while others have to pay for a part of their studies, if the university decides so.

Estonian Chess Association President Andrei Korobeinik, and chess legend Gary Kasparov, signed on Monday in Tallinn a framework agreement ‘Chess to School,’ and this autumn teaching chess will be launched in at least a dozen Estonian schools as part of a pilot project, reports Aripaev Online. “The popularity of chess cannot grow if there is no possibility of learning and practicing the game already as a child,” said Korobeinik, adding that the long-term aim is to get chess classes to be included in the school curriculum as a selectable subject. “If we manage to find supporters, the pilot project can grow from a dozen schools to several times that amount,” said Korobeinik. Kasparovk, who is the president of the chess education international foundation Kasparov Chess Foundation, said that chess teaches youngsters the ability to concentrate, as well as logical thinking. “I am convinced that studying chess is useful in every child’s development,” he said. Kasparov Chess Foundation’s chess program enables 8-16-year olds to participate.