Off the wire

  • 2000-12-14
LESS VAT FOR HEATING: Starting Jan. 1, 2001 residents in Lithuania will pay less for municipal central heating. On Dec. 7, the Lithuanian Parliament unanimously adopted the amendment to the Law on Value Added Tax, providing for 9 percent VAT rather than the 18 percent which is in force now. The new tax will be in force up to Dec. 31, 2003. This date was set taking into account the fact that Lithuania will have to renounce this concession when it becomes a full EU member.

NEW NUMBER SYSTEM: Estonia's Transport and Communications Minister Toivo Jargenson has signed a decree to do away with different area codes in phone numbers and adopt a non-geographical phone number system as of November 2002.

INFLATION HIGHEST IN ESTONIA: Of the Baltic states, Estonia showed the highest inflation in November this year, compared with October, according to central statistical bureau figures. In November, the average consumer price index increased 0.6 percent in Estonia while it was just 0.4 percent in both Lithuania and Latvia. Compared with November 1999, consumer prices have increased 1.7 percent in Estonia this November, 1.6 percent in Latvia, and 1.5 percent in Lithuania.

FREE SEMINARS: The international audit company Ernst & Young together with its partners has started implementing the widespread Western tradition of arranging free seminars for company leaders and financiers, in oder to acquaint the business comunity with new legal acts and amendments. The first seminar of this type took place in Kaunas at the beginning of the week.

CANDY FOR ESTONIA: Latvia's confectioner Staburadze plans to begin exporting its new product, Kross waffles, to Estonia in January 2001, marketing director Liene Vilnite told reporters Dec. 5. Staburadze intends to present Kross and other products at the confectioners' fair in Cologne, Germany next year.

HIGH SCORING: Estonian Hansapank ranks among the best providers of on-line banking in Europe and as a pioneer on the path to personalized finance management, a survey by Forrester Research on European net banking indicates. The survey, based on Forrester's review of 40 European on-line banking sites, featured Hansapank as the only bank from central and eastern Europe in 16th place.

SELLING SHARES: The Lithuanian State Property Fund has started selling state-owned shares in electronic TV and radio component producer Vilniaus Vingis through the national stock exchange. The LSPF is selling 2,129,657 shares, or a 23.34 percent stake, in Vilniaus Vingis. The initial price per share is 5 litas ($1.25), equal to its nominal price. The offer period runs from Dec. 11 to Jan. 24.

CAN'T ARGUE: Russia's gas giant Gazprom is set to raise natural gas prices for the Lithuanian national gas utility Lietuvos Dujos starting 2001, the daily newspaper Lietuvos Rytas reported Dec. 8. Lietuvos Dujos' managers said after talks in Moscow that natural gas price would go up by $4 to $82 per 1,000 cubic meters. Vytautas Mikaila, the gas company's managing director, said they were unable to counter Gazprom's argument that Lithuania buys gas at a lower price than other countries do.

PROCESSING LOCAL OIL: Minijos Nafta, a joint Lithuanian-Danish oil venture, will supply up to 35,000 tons of locally extracted crude oil for processing at the country's oil refinery Mazeikiu Nafta every month. Under a contract signed between Mazeikiu Nafta and Minijos Nafta last week, the refinery received the first shipment of Lithuanian oil Dec. 4, Mazeikiu Nafta's information service said.

ISSUES BOND: Shareholders of the financial brokerage company Finasta decided to present the company's first issue of bonds. Darius Sulnis, director of Finasta, said that a one-year bond issue worth 2 million litas ($50 million) would carry an interest rate of 7.5 percent. "This issue can be called experimental, because in placing it, it's like we are testing a new instrument on the market," Sulnis said.

NEW DIRECTOR: The World Bank has appointed its current representative to Russia, Michael Carter, as the bank's new director in the Baltic states and Poland. Bank's representation office spokesman Toms Baumanis said Dec. 6 that the outgoing WB regional director for the Baltics and Poland, Basil Kawalsky, will make a farewell visit to Latvia on Dec. 18 and 19.