Off the wire

  • 2000-10-19
TRANSIT HITS HARD: The volume of goods going through the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda may be cut in half in the near future, after Russia scrapped discounts on railway shipments bound for Lithuania, the business newspaper Verslo Zinios reported Oct. 12. The cost of freight shipment by rail to Lithuania has increased to $5 per ton after Russia raised railway transportation tariffs for goods going to Lithuania by 22 percent on average as of Oct. 1, which will cause a considerable slowdown in the transit of Russian metals and oil products, the bulk of freight handled at the port.

UP FOR GRABS: The Estonian Privatization Agency on Oct. 16 said it was beginning to accept written bids for all shares in the Tallinn Olympic Yachting Center. The bidding deadline is Dec. 8. The sale of the center will be conducted under the state property law, meaning that proceeds from the sale will go to the state budget, officials said. The starting price of the shares is 250 million kroons ($13.8 million) and bids are accepted for the entire package only.

CAR SALES GO ONLINE: Estonia's leading car dealerships in cooperation with Mindworks, an information technology firm specializing in e-commerce solutions, have set up an Internet-based marketing channel to offer buyers of second-hand cars quality guarantees. The initiators of the project were Veho Estonia, Amserv Group, Fakto and Saksa Auto. The four companies control more than 40 percent of the new car market in Estonia.

OPENS A CALL CENTER: Transcom WorldWide, a subsidiary of the Swedish Kinnevik Group, is opening a call center in Estonia. Transcom WorldWide has signed contracts on outsourcing customer services with Ritabell and Tele2, Kinnevik reports. The Swedish company handles customer services for consumer-intensive companies in various industries like telecommunications, travel and tourism, finance, and energy.

PROPOSES LEGALIZATION OF CASINOS: The leader of the New Union (Social Liberals), Arturas Paulauskas, has said he would support the idea of authorizing casinos. Still, he expressed doubts concerning legalization of prostitution. Speaking on local television, BTV, Oct. 10, Paulauskas said that the Lithuanian Liberal Union, currently forming a new coalition government and the governing body of the parliament with the New Union, would also agree on the legalization of gambling. Although casinos are illegal in Lithuania, the media has reported closures of several underground gambling homes in Vilnius and other cities.

CHOOSE YOUR GAS: The Lithuanian parliament Oct. 10 passed the law on natural gas, which is expected to liberalize the country's gas market. The legislation will come into force early next year. The law allows most consumers to negotiate for gas deliveries directly with suppliers. As a result, the functions of the state-owned gas company Lietuvos Dujos, which is currently the sole distributor of gas imported to Lithuania, may be limited to gas transportation.

INDUSTRIAL PARK IN NEED OF CASH: The implementation of the joint industrial park development project in the western Latvian town Liepaja will require 2.5 million euros ($2.88 million), Per Erik Brolen from Soderhamn, Sweden, said at the project supervision group meeting in Liepaja. He hopes the required financing will be obtained in the second half of 2001. So far the project preparation costs have been covered only by Soderhamn, but negotiations have started with potential investors. The parties in the project are the municipality of Liepaja, Soderhamn in Sweden, Emori in Estonia, Bitburg and Rostock in Germany.

COMPUTER EXPERTS NEEDED: The turnout of computer software experts should be increased three to six times in the next five years to ensure development of the prospective information technology branch in Latvia, a round-table discussion with participation of ministers concluded Oct. 12. The participants in the discussion about IT education included Economics Minister Aigars Kalvitis, Education and Science Minister Karlis Greiskalns, teachers from Latvian universities and the largest business companies, Kalvitis' spokeswoman Evita Timofejeva said.

MAKES BOOZE DESPITE RULING: Alcohol producer Latvijas Balzams will not halt production of Moskovskaya Osobaya Vodka despite a court ruling, LB director general Aleksandrs Ivanovs said. Latvia's Supreme Court Oct. 12 upheld an appeal claim by Sojuzplodimport against a Riga Regional Court ruling, allowing LB to use Moskovskaya Osobaya Vodka trade mark. Aleksandrs Ivanovs said LB will appeal the ruling. LB believes the court ruling is not a reason to halt production, said Ivanovs.