Estonia's third quarter government debt remains lowest in EU

22.01.20 ... As of the end of the third quarter of 2019, while Greece had the highest debt level among European Union member states, Estonia remained the EU member state with the lowest level of government debt, it appears from data published by Eurostat on Wednesday.

Paper: Regional port operator planning upgrades to Port of Kuivastu

22.01.20 ... Estonian state-owned regional port operator Saarte Liinid is planning upgrades to the Port of Kuivastu on the Western Estonian island of Muhu in the coming years, including the construction of a hangar for recreational vessels as well as a solar park.

Riigikogu committee backs allowing lump sum second pillar withdrawals

22.01.20 ... The Finance Committee of the Riigikogu on Tuesday supported the introduction of five changes to the pension reform bill, which include allowing the withdrawal of all second pillar pension savings at once, in a lump sum, as well as exempting the payout from being counted against an individual's basic tax exemption.

Finance minister: Green revolution needs more money than planned

22.01.20 ... Finance ministers of the EU discussed the climate-neutral economic investment plan in Brussels on Tuesday, and Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) believes that these plans fall significantly short of actual needs, the money will largely come at the expense of other EU activities, and that Estonia cannot be satisfied with the differential treatment of coal and oil shale in the calculation of support.

Kadri Simson: Solution needed over cheap Russian electricity

22.01.20 ... Estonia's European Commissioner Kadri Simson (Center) said that a solution was needed to alleviate the recent emergence of cheaper Russian and Belarusian electricity imports on the Estonian market. She also said that the oil shale industry per se isn't necessarily dead, hinting that options for its continuation and even the construction of a new refinery could happen.

5G frequency permits discussed by both Supreme Court and Riigikogu

21.01.20 ... Levikom has contested the circuit court ruling according to which the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MKM) was right when it only included three frequency bands in the state's 5G competition and taken the matter to the Supreme Court. The ministry has also been summoned by a Riigikogu select committee. The competition has been frozen.

Estonia granted short-term work permits to 28,297 in 2019

21.01.20 ... Last year, Estonia granted short-term work permits to 28,297 people from third countries. It also issued over 32,000 registrations for employment during fixed periods, and as of January 1, 18,608 such registrations remained in force.

Oil shale mining waste products to be used in Rail Baltic construction

21.01.20 ... The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications says up to 3.3 million tons of oil shale mining waste is to be utilized in constructing the high-speed Rail Baltic link, according to ERR's online news in Estonian. Up to four tons had already been earmarked for sale by state-owned power generator Eesti Energia, with Rail Baltic providing a suitable use.

Estonian economy estimated to grow no more than 2.5 percent in 2020

21.01.20 ... Estonia's economy is not expected to grow more than 2.5 percent in 2020, analysts for banks SEB and Swedbank said on Tuesday. Swedbank estimated a 2.4 percent increase and SEB predicts a 2 percent rise.

Language Inspectorate demands translated Hesburger 'Drive-In' sign

20.01.20 ... The Language Inspectorate (Keeleinspektsioon) told fast food outlet Hesburger in December that the company was in violation of the Language Act in having a visible "Drive-In" signage, without a translation into Estonian, ERR reports.

Estonian households more capable of paying bills than EU average

20.01.20 ... While an average of 6.6 percent of all households in the EU weren't capable of paying all of their utility bills on time in 2018, 6.5 percent of households in Estonia had left at least one bill unpaid by its due date sometime during the past year, according to Eurostat data.

Tax board audits on untaxed wages net €8.2 million in additional claims

20.01.20 ... Officials of the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) carried out 906 audits related the alleged payment of under-the-table wages last year which resulted in the issuing of additional tax claims worth €8.2 million.

December industrial producer price index down 1.2 percent on year

20.01.20 ... According to information released by Statistics Estonia on Monday, the producer price index (PPI) of industrial output in December fell 0.9 percent on month and 1.2 percent on year.

AirBaltic carried over 50 percent more Estonian passengers in 2019

20.01.20 ... Part of an all-time record high number of passengers carried, Latvian airline airBaltic carried over 670,000 Estonian passengers in 2019, over 50 percent more than in 2018.

2019 construction price index up 1.9 percent on year

20.01.20 ... According to information released by Statistics Estonia on Monday, the average construction price index in 2019 increased by 1.9 percent on year. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the construction price index increased 0.5 percent on quarter and 1.7 percent on year.

EKRE-appointed minister doesn't approve Helme's changes to Aliens Act

20.01.20 ... Conservative People's Party of Estonia-appointed Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kaimar Karu and Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) did not approve of the Ministry of the Interior's planned changes to the Aliens Act involving education-related benefits for foreigners.

Elering believes import power tax would not save oil shale energy

18.01.20 ... The Baltic countries imported record quantities of Russian electricity last year, with national energy giant Eesti Energia believing that cheap Russian power should be subject to environmental fees to stop it from flooding the market. Power transmission operator Elering finds that it would not deliver the Estonian oil shale power industry as cheap power from the Nordics would simply step in for its Russian counterpart.

Jüri Ratas commits to combatting money laundering while on Sweden visit

18.01.20 ... Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) was in Stockholm Friday, meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven (SAP), and various business leaders, and noting the importance of maintaining the fight against money laundering.

Ekspress Grupp Õhtuleht stake may be up for sale

18.01.20 ... Ekspress Grupp, one of the two major private media groups in Estonia, is weighing up selling its stake in AS Õhtuleht Kirjastus, which publishes the daily newspaper of the same name.

Paper: Imminent state company board spring clean indicates 'politicization'

17.01.20 ... In an atmosphere of controversy over the claimed politicization of board appointments to state-run enterprises, a spring clean is due of just under 30 of these, affecting just under 100 board members, according to daily Postimees, quoted by Baltic News Service.

Building permits issued in 2019 see over 20 percent rise on year

17.01.20 ... Building permits issued in the fourth quarter of 2019 numbered 2,264 for residential and non-residential buildings combined – a 21.5 percent rise on year, Baltic News Service reports.

Paper: New electric vehicle purchase support used up in under four hours

17.01.20 ... The application round for subsidies for the purchase of fully electric vehicles which began at 9 a.m. on Friday was closed by 1 p.m. already, as the application round's €600,000 budget had already been exceeded.

Coalition to tie proposals to amend pension reform bill to confidence vote

17.01.20 ... By a decision of Estonia's governing coalition, the opposition's hundreds of proposals to amend the pension reform bill will be deleted by linking the bill to a confidence vote, Postimees reported.

Paper: Liquor store on Latvian border to convert to hardware store

17.01.20 ... Goalco, an Estonian-operated liquor store in the Latvian border town of Ainazi, is converting to a hardware store, as the owners see greater potential in selling building supplies than in continuing to sell alcohol after Estonia reduced the alcohol excise duty last year and Latvia plans on increasing theirs, rendering the operation of a liquor store just over Estonia's southern border only barely profitable.

Competition authority: Saaremaa aircraft procurement age restriction valid

17.01.20 ... The Public Procurement Review Committee (VAKO) has overruled a complaint from Lithuanian air carrier Transaviabaltika, finding that a clause setting a ceiling on airplane age in the new round of procurement on the Tallinn-Kuressaare flight route, which links Estonia's largest island with the mainland, to be a legitimate demand, which does not distort competition.

Over 100 rural entrepreneurs share out €9.4 million in state support

17.01.20 ... The Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) is granting 136 entrepreneurs support aimed at diversifying the rural economy, to the tune of over €9.4 million. The aid is co-financed by the EU and the Estonian state.

More job seekers in Ida-Viru County are finding work away from home

17.01.20 ... Jobseekers in Ida-Viru County are searching for work further away from home and the morning train from Narva to Tallinn is increasingly full of commuters, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Thursday.

Pharmacists' bodies call for phased introduction of initial pharmacy reform

16.01.20 ... Both the Estonian Chamber of Pharmacists (EPK) and the Estonian Association of Pharmacists (EAL), say they support Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik's proposal for a phased pharmacy reform, but would also like to see the transition take place within a year instead of the proposed three years.

Road Administration: Tallinn and state must decide who fixes Peterburi Road

16.01.20 ... More than one Estonian city is having trouble with transit roads passing through their territory and the maintenance of which the local government has been tasked with. Cities might not have the necessary funds to renovate important roads, such as Peterburi Road (Peterburi tee) in Tallinn.

Paper: Competition sparks tensions in food delivery business

16.01.20 ... Among food delivery services operating in Estonia, two of the biggest competitors are the Finnish Wolt, which has operated on the Estonian market for years, and the Estonian Bolt, which entered the food delivery market last year, and while the newcomer sees no issue with the competition, leaked internal correspondence shows that Wolt is struggling with tensions caused by several factors, even along nationality lines.

Paper: State to hold employers responsible for foreign labor

16.01.20 ... A bill introducing stricter rules for hiring foreign short-term labor in Estonia with the aim of making entrepreneurs responsible for illegal workers from third countries is once more on the government's agenda, newspaper Postimees wrote on Thursday.

Prosecutor's Office: Danske money laundering offenses over $2 billion

16.01.20 ... The Office of the Prosecutor General told daily Postimees Thursday that over 10 predicate offenses totaling over $2 billion (USD) have arisen from its investigation into the Estonian branch of Danish lender Danske Bank.

EU could allocate €125 million to help with oil shale transition

16.01.20 ... Ida-Viru County is expected to receive approximately €125 million in European Union funding over the next seven years to help mitigate the effects of the decline of the oil shale industry.

Paper: Expensive study can't grasp wage gap among high-income earners

16.01.20 ... The first round of results of a three-year, €615,000 study on the gender pay gap in Estonia, conducted by researchers from Tallinn University (TLÜ); Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and Statistics Estonia, were published on Wednesday, pointing toward men's faster and greater wage growth.

Employers critical of interior minister's restrictions on foreign students

15.01.20 ... Employers' associations have sharply criticized Minister of the Interior Mart Helme's (EKRE) urgent planned changes to the Aliens Act and Study Allowances and Study Loans Act, finding that these changes would damage the competitiveness of Estonia's economy and higher education, violates the ensuring of equal opportunities, prevent foreigners from integrating into Estonian society and encroach upon a realm that does not fall under the remit of the Ministry of the Interior.

Unions to table proposals for combating cash-in-hand wages

15.01.20 ... The board of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL) will suggest proposals aimed at creating order in sectors of the economy affected by the payment of cash-in-hand wages.

Tallinn against free public transport for nonresidents

15.01.20 ... Tallinn City Government did not agree with a draft decision of Tallinn City Council to abolish the city's public transport ticket system and expand free public transport to nonresidents as well beginning July 1.

EU unveils €1 trillion plan to support Green Deal

15.01.20 ... The goal of the European Union's Green Deal investment plan unveiled on Tuesday is to help cut public and private sector investments enough to come up with at least €1 trillion for the overhaul of the European economy.

Sales of novel tobacco products gaining popularity in border stores

14.01.20 ... A significant increase in the sales of novel tobacco products, such as e-liquids used for vaping, which are not sold in Estonia has been reported by the retails on the Latvian border.

Authorities extend Kuressaare flight procurement deadline again

14.01.20 ... The procurement deadline for the Tallinn-Kuressaare flight route to the island of Saaremaa has been extended, to allow time to submit tenders once a long-running current dispute has been resolved. The route has been operated by Lithuanian company Transaviabaltika, despite the terms of the original contract ending last summer; appeals from it and another possible carrier, Nordica subsidiary Regional Jet, have delayed the process for months.

Ferry-borne tourism in Estonia's smaller islands growing

14.01.20 ... Estonia's smaller islands are seeing a rise in tourist visitors year-on-year, according to a report on ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Monday night. This increase is matched by a rise in the use of car ferries to visit islands such as Kihnu and Vormsi, with visitors bringing their own cars.

Paper: Bolt pulls out of Finland for second time

14.01.20 ... Estonian ride-hailing platform Bolt discontinued operations in Finland for the second time in recent years, citing current Finnish regulations and market terms that limit the company's opportunities for growth.

Eesti Energia halved CO2 emissions after cut in electricity production

14.01.20 ... Eesti Energia's CO2 emissions decreased by half last year as the company reduced its electricity production from oil shale after an increase in European Union carbon quota prices and competition from Russian electricity production.

Paper: At least 30 people lost jobs at M.V.Wool in Listeria crisis

14.01.20 ... Following a Listeria crisis that led to an injunction from the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) forcing them to temporarily shut down production at both of its plants in Harku and Vihterpalu, 125 employees of fish producer M.V.Wool received layoff notices ahead of the holidays, at least 75 of which have since been reinstated or can hope to hang onto their jobs.

Finance minister nominates Mart Järvik to rural development body role

14.01.20 ... Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) has proposed appointing party-mate Mart Järvik as board member of the Estonian Rural Development Foundation (MES). Järvik was rural affairs minister from late April until being released from office in November 2019.

Paper: Helme names businessman unfit for minister to important committee

13.01.20 ... Minister of Finance Martin Helme's (EKRE) appointment of businessman and party mate Argo Luude to the Appointments Committee, which is tasked with naming members to the supervisory boards of partially state-owned companies, late last week creates two conflicts at once.

Disputes continue between state forestry body and local residents

13.01.20 ... State forestry authority the RMK could involve local populations in its decision making and broaden its concept of sustainable forest management, according to ERR's Marju Himma.

Ida-Viru County aims to be Estonia's second largest tourist destination

13.01.20 ... In 10 years time, Ida-Viru County is aiming to become Estonia's second most popular tourist destination, leapfrogging Tartu County and Pärnu County, the tourism coordinator for the region has said.

Paper: Electronic work registration to be introduced in construction

13.01.20 ... In an effort to combat the shadow economy, the government intends to introduce electronic work registration in the construction field, a move supported by construction companies hoping for a personal work photo ID system similar to those already in place in neighboring countries.

Increase of tourists from Russia in 2019

13.01.20 ... Trains on the Moscow-Tallinn route carried more than 111,000 passengers last year, an increase of 4 percent compared to 2018.
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