Minister warns of economic slowdown

  • 2001-09-13
  • BNS
TALLINN - Because of the worldwide economic slowdown, Estonia's economy could soon become considerably worse than expected, Finance Minister Siim Kallas warned.

"For a resident of Estonia, the economic situation may still seem summery, warm and cloudless today. Also, all figures and models we use in the Finance Ministry allow us to predict 4.8 percent economic growth for Estonia next year. This is less than we anticipated, but nevertheless pretty good," Kallas wrote in the Eesti Paevaleht daily on Sept. 10. "But, if in the coming months worse news than expected flows in from abroad we shall certainly have to adjust our evaluations of the development of the domestic economy."

Bad news seem today to originate elsewhere, mainly in the United States but also in Europe. "It's difficult to underestimate the impact of wrong decisions on the world economy, banking, employment and consumption," he said.

The International Monetary Fund's soon-to-be-released world economy survey is, according to Kallas, fairly pessimistic as well.

"Thus, I would recommend caution, because the economic situation here, too, may turn significantly worse than we expect," he said. "I think we must start seriously thinking about measures to avoid possible trouble."

Kallas' warnings about the possible deterioration of Estonia's economic situation is fairly justified, economic analysts said.

"Hansapank is not expecting a crash, but the situation of the Estonian economy may become more complicated toward the end of the year indeed," said the bank's analyst Maris Lauri. Lauri said Kallas' statement was a warning that "our affairs don't necessarily look rosy any longer and that everyone should keep this in mind."

Sampo Bank's analyst Anne Karik-Uustalu predicts 4.9 percent economic growth for the current year based on the assumption that the world economy will take a turn for the better toward the end of this year.

"Unfortunately the latest data show there's not yet much ground for such hope," she added. "We must be prepared for a drop in Estonian exports which will bring down the economic growth figure as well."