PRIVATIZATION COMMISSION MAY BE REORGANIZED: The Latvian Central Commission for Privatization of Residential Houses might be reorganized late next year and taken over by some other public agency, Economics Minister Vladimirs Makarovs said. The commission might be included in the new agency to be established as a result of the reorganization in the Latvian Development Agency and Latvian Privatization Agency. At the moment the commission has succeeded in finalizing ownership relations in respect of 67 percent of residential houses in Latvia. By the end of the year this figure could reach 72 to 75 percent, and next year up to 90 percent of all state- and municipality-owned residential buildings.
HANSAPANK AMONG THE WORLD'S TOP 1,000 BANKS: Hansapank became the first bank in the Baltics to be ranked among the world's largest 1,000 banks by The Banker magazine. It ranks 750th in the world and 20th in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of equity, and 905th in the world in terms of assets. The Banker's July issue reports Hansapank's equity at $256 million and assets at $2,06 billion. Ahead of it are Polish, Czech, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Slovak, Croatian and Slovenian banks. The top 1,000 banks include a total of 28 Central and East European banks. According to The Banker, the region's biggest bank is Poland's Bank Pekao, and the world's largest bank is Citigroup with $41.9 billion in equity.
LITHUANIAN BUDGET SHRINKS: The Lithuanian Finance Ministry has prepared a plan for reducing state spending in 1999 by 600 million litas ($150 million). The government claims it is seeking to lessen the impact of budget reductions on social support, education, science, culture and health sectors as much as possible. The corrected 1999 budget legislation is to be considered at the August 25 meeting of the cabinet.
INSOLVENCY CLAIM FILED FOR RIGA AIRLINES: Riga International Airport and Latvian Air Traffic have filed a claim with Riga Regional Court to declare Riga Airlines insolvent. According to the airport's legal manager, Ineta Zalane, RIAIR owed $157,061 to the airport and some $30,000 to Latvian Air Traffic. The decision to go to court had been made after waiting eight months for payment. During this period RIAIR tried to find a strategic investor in order to resume its operation but failed. Riga International Airport is interested in the rehabilitation of RIAIR in order to recover its money, Zalane said. Should RIAIR be declared insolvent, several more creditors might make their claims against the airline. Last October RIAIR ceased all flights because of the Russian crisis.
ESTONIA PLANS TO BORROW FROM ABROAD: Estonia intends to borrow nearly 2.5 billion kroons ($171.35 million) in the years 1999-2002 in the framework of various projects, such as reconstruction of the Tallinn airport's passenger terminal (118.5 million kroons) and reconstruction of the Ikla-Tallinn-Narva highway ( 235 million kroons). A state-guaranteed loan of 462.3 million kroons will also go to Estonian railroad. Estonia's foreign debt as of the start of this year totaled 3.4 billion kroons, forming 4.7 percent of gross domestic product. Debt servicing this year is expected to swallow 680.6 million kroons of state budget funds, or 5.6 percent of GDP.
U.S. COMPANY FORCES LITHUANIA TO CHANGE LAWS: Lithuania will have to change some of its laws by the end of September if it wants to sign an agreement with the U.S. oil company Williams for investments in the oil company Mazeikiu Nafta. Attorneys in Lithuania who are consulting for Williams are currently collecting laws which are to be changed. Economics Ministry officials are also analyzing what possible disagreements exist between laws in force and the terms of agreement with Williams. Williams is negotiating with Lithuania over a 60 percent stake in the only petroleum processing plant in the Baltic states.