In Brief - 2003-07-24

  • 2003-07-24
Cheap booze rankles neighbor
Bargain-cheap Estonian alcohol is likely to complicate Finland's 2004 budget deliberations scheduled for August, the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote on July 21.
The Finnish government will have to make a decision on lowering the alcohol excise tax, which insiders say is unavoidable since most restrictions on importing alcoholic beverages must be lifted next year. The biggest pressure on the Finnish alcohol market will come in May when Estonia joins the European Union, as the Baltic state is due to its proximity better suited for booze buying trips than Germany or Denmark, where liquor is also cheaper than in Finland, according to the paper. Price differences between Estonia and Finland are "enormous," wrote the paper.
The alcohol excise tax is expected to bring 1.3 billion euros into Finland's state coffers this year. Next year's budget will see 25 percent less revenues. (BNS)

Transneft claims it is only buyer
Russia's oil pipeline monopoly Transneft is the main candidate for buying Latvia's lucrative Ventspils Nafta oil terminal, Lukoil Baltija R Chairman Haim Kogan said in an interview with Bizness & Baltija.
The Lukoil Baltic representative stressed that Transneft "draws up the schedules for access to the major oil pipelines," adding that there is no point in anyone buying the terminal if they can't ship as much oil as necessary through it.
Since the start of this year Ventspils Nafta has not received a single barrel of crude oil via pipeline from Transneft. Since the crude oil pipeline from Russia to Ventspils has remained dry, talk of selling a major stake in the terminal to Russia has been frequent.
Asked as to how he sees the future of Ventspils Nafta, Kogan said that the situation depends on Lembergs and the Latvian government. "But for now a cross has been placed on crude supplies via pipeline to Ventspils," he said. In this regard, Kogan observed, "As far as I understand, [Ventspils Mayor] Aivars Lembergs has decided to develop railway supplies for handling crude oil and oil products." (BNS)

Lottery boosted by effectiveness
Lithuanian lottery operators boosted their net earnings by 29.7 percent in the first six months of 2003, despite a 1.8 percent drop in combined revenues, the country's Finance Ministry reported.
Three lottery operators – Olifeja, Zalgirio Loto and Fortuna Baltica – posted 713,450 litas (206,800 euros) in aggregate net profits for the first half of this year, up from net profits of 925,000 litas for the same period last year. Their combined revenues reached 49.7 million litas, down from 50.6 million litas a year ago.
Olifeja, the country's leading lottery operator, raised its first-half net profit by 18.3 percent, year-on-year, to 970,000 litas, but revenues for the six-month period dropped by 2.2 percent to 43 million litas. (BNS)