Criticism continues over port fees

  • 2004-12-01
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - A council member of the Tallinn Port has published remarks criticizing Estonia's transport and communications minister, blasting the poor leadership for losses of up to 70 million kroons (4.4 million euros) due to delays in introducing higher port fees.

Koit Uus wrote in the Nov. 25 edition of the Eesti Paevaleht daily that the port's supervisory council had been discussing the hike in fees for almost a year. "The first proposal to this effect was made by the previous executive board at the beginning of this year, and the idea was to introduce new fees from July 1. But at operators' request the start was put off until Sept. 1," Uus said.

"Then the decision of the council that had already stepped into force was put off for three months for the same reason. Thus the 'additional deliberation' has taken six months, or 70 million kroons, in revenue not received by the port," Uus complained.

The council member emphasized the fact that, whereas the port company earns 400 million kroons, together all operators earn an estimated 2 million kroons in profit annually, or five times less. "The Tallinn Port likewise has five times less capacity to keep the matter up in the media, hire lawyers and increase pressure by other means," Uus said of the widely publicized dispute over port fees. Several port operators have even threatened to take their gripes to European regulators.

The company has argued the planned 26 percent price-hike in port fees is necessary in order to ensure the port's sustainable development, make investments needed to improve service and increase capacity.

Transport and Communications Minister Andrus Ansip has said on several occasions that the increase should be carefully considered again by the port council and has voiced direct opposition to raising the fees for passenger ships.