HEALTHIER CIGARETTES? Austria Tabak, producer of the no-filter-tip Priima cigarettes, will cut the cigarettes' tar and nicotine content to meet terms of a new law now being debated by the Estonian Parliament. The tobacco bill sets the tar content at 12 milligrams and the nicotine content at 1.2 milligrams. Priima cigarettes now contain 15 milligrams of tar and 1.4 milligrams of nicotine. The draft law has met criticism, leading Parliament to consider an amendment to make the changes effective in two years rather than six months as the bill now reads.
INCINERATOR FOR ORGANICS PLANNED: Estonia will build an animal waste handling plant to open in 2002 with the estimated volume of investments at 140 million kroons ($8.97 million). Agriculture Ministry veterinary and food sector specialist Meelis Kasemaa said the plant should make it possible to process all organic waste, such as waste of the meat-packing and fishery industries, animals perishing on farms as well as waste of food processing and catering establishments. Kasemaa said that the biggest meat and fish processing plants have their own waste units, but none of them is in line with European Union requirements.
OBER HAUS OPENS OFFICE IN KAUNAS: The Ober Haus real estate company opened a brokerage with five employees in Kaunas on Dec. 14, the eighth Ober Haus brokerage in the Baltics. Opening of the new office continues plans of expansion with the aim of opening its offices in all major Baltic cities, Ober Haus' Deputy Board Chairman Peter Gage Morris said. Ober Haus has about 120 professionals working across the region. Mecislovas Zasciurinskas, former vice chairman of the Kaunas city planning commission heads the Kaunas office .
LATVIA SLOWS BORDER CROSSINGS: The Latvian Parliament on Dec. 9 adopted amendments to the customs law limiting the sugar individuals will be allowed to bring into the country to no more than three kilograms of sugar. The amendments will take effect in two weeks as of their enactment. Enterprising individuals have been bringing in cheaper sugar from Estonia.
JOBLESS RATE DROPS: The unemployment rate in Latvia, which zipped up to over 10 percent following devaluation of the Russian ruble, has fallen to 9.1 percent of the working population the state employment accounting office said Dec. 10. Stabilization occurred because companies that suffered from the Russian crisis, especially fish processors, had started to rehire, the department's analyst Ilga Upeniece said. In addition, new companies have started operating in Riga. The unemployment rate could rise again from re-organization in the state-owned Latvian railway Latvijas Dzelzcels and the forestry industry. As of Dec. 1 there were 112,522 job-seekers registered in Latvia with the most job seekers registered in the eastern region of Latgale.
LITHUANIA EXPORTS ARE CONTRACTING: Lithuania exported goods worth 10.15 billion litas ($ 2.54 billion) over the first 10 months of this year, a slump of 19.8 percent against the same period of 1998, the statistics department reported. Ten-month imports amounted to 16 billion litas this year, a decline of 17.5 percent year-on-year, according to preliminary data based on customs declarations. Lithuania's 10-month foreign trade deficit narrowed to 5.85 billion litas this year, down from 6.74 billion litas last year. In January-October this year, Germany was Lithuania's largest trade partner, with 15.8 percent of all exports and 16.5 percent of imports.
GAS PRICE INDEXED TO ROTTERDAM: The Lithuanian government on Dec. 8 authorized the state-owned gas company Lietuvos Dujos to sign a six-year agreement with Russia's Gazprom. Economy Minister Valentinas Milaknis said the 2000-2005 agreement should allow annual price negotiations. The agreement should fix the price at $76 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first half of 2000 and link the price to heating oil prices on the Rotterdam market in the second half of 2000 and later, the minister said. Lietuvos Dujos will buy 1.45 billion cubic meters of gas next year.
Baltic News Service