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Tax authority wants alcohol tourists watched by cameras

In efforts to crack down on an increasing issue with Estonians crossing the country's southern border in order to buy cheaper alcohol there, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) wants to install license plate-reading cameras at ten or so currently unsupervised Estonian-Latvian border crossings and is seeking to amend a law which would allow for the making of blind purchases in order to expose illegal resellers of alcohol brought in from Latvia.

Tax hikes on alcohol in Estonia have led to an increasing number of Estonians hopping the country's southern border in order in order to buy cheaper, less heavily taxed alcohol from Latvia; current laws allow for Estonians to bring up to 10 liters of hard liquor and 110 liters of light alcohol for personal consumption across the border at once, reported daily Postimees (link in Estonian).

The MTA wants to be prepared for a situation in which growing price differences will give rise to resale networks of cheap Latvian alcohol in Estonia, as indications exist that there is cause for concern already.

This summer season's record violation, for example, was discovered last week, when customs officials detained a commercial vehicle in Estonia whose driver had picked up a ton and a half of beer with the intention of delivering it to Finland; the likely intention was to resell the alcohol in Finland, as the cost of beer in Finland is currently twice that of Latvian prices.

"He had already completed a number of successful trips across the border at Ikla and from here on to Finland," explained Urmas Koidu, director of the customs department at the MTA. "We were able to track him down specifically thanks to the license plate recgnition system."

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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