TOBACCO EXCISE TAX TO RISE: The Estonian Parliament amended the law on tobacco excise tax postponing a tax hike by half a year. Instead of increasing the tax Dec. 1, the Parliament decided to raise it in stages. First it will jump by 0.5 kroons per package of cigarettes on Jan. 1, 1999 and will increase by another 0.5 kroon on July 1, 1999.
LATVIANS MOVE ON TO UKRAINIAN MARKET: After the Russian market collapsed, Latvian businessmen moved to explore export possibilities in Ukraine. The Latvian Development Agency organized Latvian business days in the Ukrainian capital Kiev Dec. 1-3. The event was joined by 20 Latvian companies, representing mostly food processing, textile and machinery industries, including Ave Lat Grupa, Cido Partikas Grupa, Jelgava machinery production plant, and textiles maker Lauma. Companies will meet with Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials, the Council of the Ukrainian Industrialist Directors as well as representatives of the biggest companies. Latvia presented the Liepaja Special Economic Zone so as to attract interest in transit possibilities through the Liepaja port.
DAIRY PLANS TO INCREASE SHARE CAPITAL: The leader among Lithuanian dairies, Zemaitijos Pienas, plans to increase its share capital by 2 million to 4 million litas ($500,000 to $1 million) to renovate its facilities and introduce new technology. "Shareholders will make the final decision concerning the share emission at their meeting on Dec. 28," said Asta Kiguoliene, chairwoman of Zemaitijos Pienas supervising board. She said the method of shares distribution and the price of the emission have not been settled yet. Zemaitijos Pienas' share capital amounts to 29.37 million litas, with the face value of a share standing at 10 litas. The company earned 10.3 million litas in net profits on 160.2 million litas sales over the first nine months of this year.
MOSCOW BANK EYES ESTONIAN COUNTERPART: Rumors have it that Moscow-based Inturbank wants to acquire a number of EVEA Bank's newly issued 6.5 million shares. However Tiina Mitt, EVEA Bank bankruptcy trustee, said "nothing can be confirmed as long as some investor hasn't placed, let's say, 1 million kroons on deposit in some Estonian bank." Mitt said Britain's Siege PLC, which had announced it wanted to buy shares in the planned equity issue, was only one of the potential investors for EVEA Bank. Inturbank, formerly known as Inturistbank, has not suffered substantially from the financial crisis in Russia, according to its own statements. Mitt said experts of Inturbank had looked into EVEA's financial situation. EVEA Bank's shareholders are expected to discuss the stock capital expansion plan at an extraordinary general meeting on Dec 7.
FLAX FIBER TOPS LITHUANIA'S WISH LIST: Next year Lithuanian textile enterprises will be short of flax fiber again because local supply meets the production needs of the largest textile companies by only 35 to 40 percent. The Economics Ministry has presented the government with a draft resolution offering to increase import quotas for flax fiber to 600 tons. Economics Minister Vincas Babilius told the daily Respublika that major consumers of flax fiber Linas, Siulas and Linu Audiniai need around 5,000 tons of long flax fiber a year. This year Lithuanian linen processing companies plan to put out 1,700 tons of long flax and 2,700 tons of short flax fiber. Lithuanian textiles producers import flax fiber every year, so the government is offering to abolish 35 percent import duties for this raw material. Besides the import protection, local linen growers are granted subsidies, and 54-65 percent of the linen straw purchasing price is covered by the Country Support Fund.