Off the wire

  • 2001-04-19
GOING FIXED: Tele2 is offering local fixed-line telephone calls within Estonia starting from April 16. Tele2 has set the per-minute tariff at 0.31 kroons ($0.02) in regular hours, 0.25 kroons in reduced-tariff hours and 0.13 kroons at night, the company said. These Tele2 tariffs are lower than those of the fixed-line monopoly Eesti Telefon. Tele2's standard tariff is equal to the tariff of Uninet, while its reduced tariff and night tariff are lower. In its fixed-line service, Tele2 until now offered only long distance calls within Estonia. By bringing the local calls service on the market, Tele2 is joining competitors Eesti Telefon and Uninet who offer a united calls service within Estonia.

IN NEED OF LOAN: Kauno Vandenys, the supplier of water to Lithuania's second-largest city, Kaunas, expects to receive a $6.25 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance a project to construct biological water purification installations. The company hopes to sign a loan agreement with the EBRD in September this year. The first EBRD loan of $15 million was extended to Kauno Vandenys in 1995 and has to be repaid by 2009. The funds were also used for the improvement of the quality of water and waste water services in Kaunas. It is planned that 75 percent of the financing for the biological water purification facility project, estimated to cost over 100 million litas ($25 million), will come in the form of grants under the EU ISPA program, and that the EBRD funds will make up the remaining 25 percent. Kauno Vandenys is 100 percent owned by the municipality of Kaunas.

SMALLER PORT: The Estonian company Undva Sadam, whose plans to build a deep water port at Undva on the northern coast of the island of Saaremaa fell through, is now looking for ways to build a catamaran port with a depth of eight meters on the island. Jaak Lokk, chairman of the company's supervisory council, told the regional newspaper Meie Maa that as a compromise with ornithologists the port builders have broached the idea of building a smaller port. "We are no longer talking of a big port but of one to receive yachts, smaller cruise ships and catamarans," Lokk said. As locations for the port, Jaagarahu and Kesknomme in the western part of the island are currently under consideration. The firm hopes to open a catamaran line between Sweden and Saaremaa analogously with the Roomassaare-Riga line.

COMING TO TOWN: Partner Motors, the authorized dealer of Subaru cars in Latvia, hopes to complete construction of a new Subaru auto center in the Latvian capital by the end of summer. The total costs for setting up the new auto center are planned at nearly 1 million lats ($1.59 million). The auto center will take up a total space of 1,750 square meters, including a 450-square-meter auto showroom. The rest will be office space, a warehouse for car parts and a service garage. The company hopes construction will be completed by early August when Riga's 800th anniversary celebration will get under way. The interior works are expected to be completed by late August or early September.

WORTHLESS: Latvia's port of Ventspils is "catastrophically losing value," according to a LUKoil company representative, due to arising competition and could soon go without oil altogether. The Russian paper Vedomosti quoted LUKoil Baltija CEO Haim Kogan, who believes that "now that the Baltic pipeline system is being built in full swing, the port of Ventspils is catastrophically loosing value. It will soon be left without oil. By the way, in this case they could increase oil product handling amounts." Kogan said that this is why a year and a half ago LUKoil still hoped to buy the oil terminal on the Latvian coast of the Baltic Sea, but now there is no point to it. The mass media recently reported that LUKoil is holding negotiations over the purchase of Ventspils Nafta, which currently exports 15 percent of Russia's oil. Both the Latvian and Russian sides promptly denied the reports. In 2000 the port of Ventspils handled 34.75 million tons of oil, which is 1.8 percent more than in 1999.

LOOKING FOR A JOB? The Lithuanian job Web site logged a total of 10,000 curriculum vitae by April 11, with an average of 700-1,000 CVs filed per month. According to the Internet solution firm Media Works, which created the Web site, the largest number of CVs are filled in by management, information technologies, telecommunications, law, accounting and manufacturing specialists. Nearly 90 percent of the applicants have obtained a university education or are seeking one, 65 percent are currently employed, while others are high school students. More than half are 22 to 30 years of age, most of whom are residents of larger towns. The Web site was designed a year ago, in mid-April 2000. is one of the first job and career portals in Lithuania.

LOTTERIES TAXED: A gambling tax bill drafted by the Estonian Finance Ministry would add promotional lotteries – campaigns where the purchase of some goods or services involves the possibility to win an extra prize – to the list of taxable games of chance. Promotional lotteries should have been taxed from the beginning, said Finance Ministry adviser Daniel Vaarik. Tax revenue goes to charitable organizations. Under the bill, the tax rate for promotional lotteries would be 25 percent of the prize fund per lottery, while for lotteries arranged during shows and charitable events the tax would be 20,000 kroons ($1,150) per lottery.

FACTORY SOLD: An agreement was signed April 17 on selling Latvia's largest cement mold sales and rental company, Via Teh, to the Finnish group Ramirent Oy. Via Teh, which belonged to a Latvian construction company, Kalnozols & Partneri, will now become a part of the Finnish group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed. Ramirent plans to invest 500,000 lats ($796,000) in Via Teh this year. Last year Via Teh achieved a turnover of more than 1 million lats. Ramirent group's turnover in 2000 topped 300 million Finnish marks ($44.70 million). Ramirent is the largest construction machinery and equipment rental company in Finland and is actively expanding its operations in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe.