Eesti in brief - 2009-05-13

  • 2009-05-13
The government has proposed an across the board cut in civil service pay. The cuts come as part of the government's attempt to address the impending shortfall in the annual budget. Minister of Justice Rein Lang claimed the draft legislation would involve an equal cut in salaries across all branches of the public sector. If passed, the legislation would take effect from July 1. Negotiations on the size of the proposed cuts are still ongoing.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced that it will permanently base a computer crime expert in Estonia this year to help fight international threats against computer systems. FBI assistant director Shawn Henry said this will be the first time the bureau is placing an agent focused purely on cyber-crime outside the United States, the Associated Press reported. The FBI official said the agency may also cooperate with a NATO cyber-defense center that was established in Estonia last year. After wide-scale attacks on private and public computer systems in 2007, Estonia has led international efforts to fight cyber-crime.

Estonian-language daily Eesti Ekspress has reported that SEB Enskilda is attempting to convince the government to auction off large parts of the national forest in an attempt to raise money, helping to reduce the budget deficit. The paper reported that SEB Enskilda sent a seven page confidential document titled "possible sales of national forest" to the government for consideration. According to the paper, the government could sell 100,000-200,000 hectares of forest land which at current market prices would earn around 2-5 billion kroons.

Tallinn public transport companies are looking at taking on about 900 employees from September of this year. The Tallinn Tram and Trolleybus Company will take up 360 tour guides, while the Tallinn Bus Company will hire some 540 people. Additionally, the Tram and Trolleybus Company will hire 34 tram and trolleybus cleaners and six people to clean tramway tracks from July. The Tallinn Bus Company, meanwhile, will offer work to 60 bus cleaners from June. The new employees will earn minimum wage, which currently stands at 4,350 kroons, minus social and unemployment insurance fees.

Flash estimates from Estonia's national statistics agency indicate that the economy declined by about 15.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.  It marks the fourth straight quarter that the GDP has declined in the country. The fall is significantly worse than the decrease in the fourth quarter of last year, when the GDP declined by 9.7 percent. According to the flash estimations the steep decrease of the value added in manufacturing, construction and retail and wholesale trade influenced the decrease of GDP the most. The first estimate of the GDP for the 1st quarter of 2009 calculated in accordance with the internationally recognized methodology will be published by Statistics Estonia on 9 June.