TO SERVE THE STATE: Eight companies participated in a tender to provide telephone services to Estonian state institutions. The goal of the tender is to buy the local and international call facility, including mobile communications, as cheaply as possible and the government expects to save mainly on the costs of international calls. The public procurement tender is carried out in two stages, with offers in the second stage to be presented by Feb. 5.
EVERYONE ON THE NET: By the beginning of next year technical facilities in Latvia should be developed to allow Internet access throughout the country, Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins said in an interview on Latvian State Radio on Jan. 18. All local governments, schools and libraries should have Internet access by early next year, he noted. Under the Lattelekom framework agreement the telephone company was required "to digitalize all of Latvia" by the end of 2001. So far Lattelekom had performed only some 40 percent of the provisions included in the framework agreement, Berzins noted. This means that the telephone company has to perform all of its contractual obligations during this year, Berzins added. He said this was one of the arguments in the litigation with Lattelekom's co-owner, Tilts Communications, over Lattelekom's monopoly status in Latvia.
GO YACHTING: The privatization saga of Tallinn's Olympic Yachting Center will continue in the summer at the earliest, as the issue of land ownership cannot be solved by the city of Tallinn before June. In the meantime, it should be decided whether the center is sold by a procedure set out in the state property law, bringing all the income into the state budget, or in accordance with the usual privatization procedure, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture said. The officials were confident that the new attempt to sell the complex will be made with the same starting price of 250 million kroons ($15 million), which earlier was seen as too high. The 19 hectare plot by the sea and the Pirita River on which the complex was built for the yachting regatta of the 1980 Moscow Olympics hasn't been entered into the cadastral register so far.
LESS ATTRACTIVE: The administration of Lithuania's western county of Klaipeda expressed concern about the fate of Lithuanian companies doing business in neighboring Kaliningrad, saying that the recent enforcement of a new customs code in Russia has made Kaliningrad less attractive to foreign investors. Tax privileges for Lithuanian firms working in Kaliningrad have been canceled, the officials said. The value-added tax of 25 percent automatically raises the prices of commodities imported in the region. It has been estimated that about 300 companies with Lithuanian capital or joint ventures registered in Kaliningrad to date will lose business.
NEW TERMINAL: Riga International Airport will auction a 25-year lease of a land plot for construction and operation of a cargo terminal. The 7,000-square-meter plot is situated in the airport's customs zone. Bidders are required to submit their offers by March 22. According to Riga International Airport Financial Director Guntars Sprogis, the terminal Baltijas Kravu Centrs, to be opened in February and owned by Air Baltic, SAS and GlobeGraund Berlin, may not have enough capacity to handle all cargo in the Riga airport. In 2000, the Riga International Airport served 574,356 passengers, which is a 2 percent rise since 1999.
NO QUICKLIME FROM RUSSIA: Lithuania's Competition Council decided to impose anti-dumping duties on quicklime imported to Lithuania from Russia and Belarus, the council's spokeswoman announced. An anti-dumping duty of 45 litas ($11.25) per ton will be applied to quicklime imported from Russia and 50 litas duty will be imposed on quicklime brought in from Belarus. The measure was requested by the only Lithuanian producer of quicklime, Naujasis Kalcitas. Without this duty and with no local producer, the Lithuanian market would become dependent on import conditions, the council said. It is likely that after this duty, which is lower than the set dumping difference, is imposed both the local producer, and importers of similar goods, will have a possibility of participating in fair competition.
DEAL FIXED: The Singaporean financial firm Tolaram Group paid 1.28 million litas ($320,000) for the part of the equity portfolio in Alytaus Tekstile, one of the largest companies manufacturing and processing textiles and fabrics in the Baltic states. The purchase meets the deadline set by the state authorities. The buyer of Alytaus Tekstile promised that during the first 10 days of April it would pay fines for cutting jobs and the failure to fulfill obligations, the spokeswoman for the State Property Fund said. Under the agreement, signed in September 1998, the buyer is obligated to pay 12.88 million litas for a 63.18 percent stake by November 2002.
HARM TO EXPORTS: The U.S. Trade Department's proposal to impose additional duties of between 17 percent and 27 percent on steel reinforcement exported by Latvia will bode negatively for Liepajas Metalurgs but is not yet the final decision, said the company's representatives. Liepajas Metalurgs is one of the biggest steel reinforcement importers to the U.S.A., though it currently sends no exports there. Liepajas Metalurgs use to export more than 50 percent of its output to the U.S.A. and company officials said it is seeking other markets.