Although two former ministers said the potential participation of a state owned company in bidding on an island ferry line contract was a sham, Economic Affairs Minister Urve Palo says the company, the Port of Tallinn, could well win the contract.
"First of all, let me stress the ministry has not abandoned the idea of purchasing state ships," Palo said on ERR radio today. "But the Port of Tallinn supervisory board decided, in light of the state's decision, that it would put the purchase of ships out to tender. If all goes according to plan, it has a chance to win the contract and then find an operator. By this means, the state still has a possibility of acquiring those ships."
IRL member Juhan Parts, ousted from the Cabinet along with other IRL ministers this spring, was backing a model where the existing ferry lines would be nationalized. The government did a rethink on that idea last week, saying it would put out a call for bidders.
Currently only ferry businessman Vjatšeslav Leedo's Väinamere Liinid is considered to have the ships needed to service the routes between Saaremaa and Hiuumaa islands and the mainland.
Whoever wins the contract to serve the routes, the contract would specify the right of the state to buy the ships at the end of the contract period, which runs from 2016 to 2026, said Palo.