The European Commission approved the decision of the Center for Environmental Investments to allocate nearly 440 million kroons (28.2 million euros) to the Police and Border Guard Board for purchasing a new multi-functional pollution abatement ship, writes LETA/Postimees Online. Most of the funding for constructing and equipping the vessel will be provided by the European Regional Development Fund. The Estonian State will contribute nearly 80 million kroons. According to current plans, the ship should be completed by 2013. The head of the border guard department, Tonu Hunt, noted that a new vessel is important in order to guarantee Estonia’s capacity to liquidate and prevent marine pollution. “Currently, we are using a pollution abatement ship that is nearly half a century old, while the increase in the ship traffic frequency has contributed to potential risks for the environment, as well as has caused the need to carry out constant environmental monitoring,” he explained.
In a joint report compiled by the Health Insurance Fund, the Ministry of Social Affairs and by the World Health Organization (WHO), the conclusions note that the current system for financing the Estonian health care sector is not viable in a long-term perspective and needs changes in the tax system in order to achieve sustainability, reports LETA. Among the major changes proposed by WHO are the recommendations for the state to start paying medical insurance for pensioners as well as collecting social tax on dividend revenue. As of now, Estonia is among the few European countries where the medical insurance system relies on the contribution of the working population alone and, hence, approximately 50 percent of the residents have to earn the funds that pay for services that are used by 95 percent of the population, while 5 percent has no medical insurance.
The Swedish Maritime Administration - Sjofartsverket - has sharply criticized ferry companies in the Baltic Sea for ignoring warnings and failing to change routes to avoid thick ice sheets, reports The Local. Nearly 20 ferries were still stuck in the ice off Sweden’s Baltic Sea coast last weekend, following a week in which thousands of passengers were stranded on ships which became marooned between ice blocks up to 15 meters thick. A number of ferries operating between Sweden and Finland took difficult ice-bound routes without contacting the ice breaker service, and against the advice of maritime safety authorities, said Johnny Lindvall from the maritime administration’s ice breaker service. “They’ve got Titanic Syndrome - they think they are immortal.” Jan Karstrom, CEO of the Viking Lines ferry company, said that the warnings came too late and a number of ferries were already stuck hard in the ice when the message was received.