Narva shops almost broke

  • 1998-11-05
TALLINN (BNS) - Legal retail trade in the northeastern Estonian city of Narva is in danger of being wiped out. Thousands of residents of the city are taking advantage of simplified border crossing procedures to buy cheap foodstuffs and consumer goods from the Russian town of Ivangorod on the other bank of the Narva River, the Postimees daily reported.

Foodstuffs from Ivangorod, almost twice as cheap on average since the devaluation of the Russian ruble, have flooded the small shops and street kiosks of Narva, as a result of which the turnover of groceries is declining at an alarming rate. The drop is especially steep in the sales of cheese, bread, and fish products.

Irina Kuzina, director of Toiko Ltd. , which owns 12 groceries in Narva, told the paper she is in despair. "Because of the Ivangorod market, our turnover declined by one-fourth in September and October," she said.

Lauri Pastak, head of the northeastern customs inspectorate, can but shrug his shoulders in the face of the influx of goods, as customs officials have no authority to stem it. "Each person crossing the border may freely bring in goods worth 1,000 kroons ($71) for personal consumption," Pastak explained. In the case of foodstuffs, the allowed quantity is 10 kilograms.

Residents of Ivangorod often receive their pay and pensions with delay, whereas the people of Narva, who get their money on time, can feel like affluent Western tourists on the other bank of the river, the paper said.