Quicker passage at Estonian-Latvian border

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 06, 1998

The first joint customs and passport checkpoints opening on Baltic borders in September are expected to speed up border crossing within the Baltic countries.

Border guard and customs officials at the Ikla-Ainazi checkpoint on the Estonian-Latvian border on the Tallinn-Riga road will start with joint checks from Sept. 5. A similar system will be introduced at the Murati-Veclaicene checkpoint beginning Sept. 19.

“Border crossing at those checkpoints will speed up by one third, as those leaving the country will only be checked in the country of arrival,” said Customs Department General Director Rein Talvik.

This means that double control of all vehicles on Estonian and Latvian borders will stop. The contract on the common control was signed in 1994 but did not go into service.

The third Estonian-Latvian joint checkpoint will be opened in Valga- Valka at the end of next year. The government delegations of Estonia and Latvia have also agreed on simplified border crossing for people living in areas close to their mutual border. The agreement may be signed within a few months, said regional minister Peep Aru who led the Estonian delegation.

These three Estonian border checkpoints will speed up the whole border crossing process since they are the only checkpoints on the Latvian-Estonia border. The same will apply to railway in the future.

The three Baltic Prime ministers further simplified border crossings when they signed an agreement on common transit procedures at a meeting in Latvia July 10. According to the agreement, products do not need additional guarantees when crossing the border.

Previously, customs documents needed to be reconfirmed each time on mutual Baltic borders but from now on they are valid for all the Baltic States. According to the deputy manager Rein Velling from the Customs Department, the Estonian vehicles in Latvia had to be escorted by Latvians previously.

In Estonia and Lithuania, the international system on guarantees has operated for three years now. Latvia just launched this system this summer. As Latvia has finally joined the Green Card convention and signed an agreement with Estonian Traffic Insurance Fund, Estonian drivers no longer have to buy a separate traffic insurance certificate.

“This guarantee system will minimize the time spent on formalities in checkpoints,” said Velling.

The Estonian border guards are also co-operating with the Russian border guards. The issue of a trilateral Estonian-Russian-Finnish working group has been raised at the meetings as both Russia and Estonia has good co-operation with Finland.

Students receive their study loans in parts

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 27, 1998

The Estonian Finance Ministry and three of Estonia’s banks have finally found a solution for funding student loans.

The clients of Uhispank, ERA Pank and Hansapank have agreed to lend money at a 14.5 percent interest rate without extra deposits to the bank so that they would not have to lend the money out at once. According to the agreement, students receive their loans in two parts, 6,500 kroons ($464.2) on Sept. 15 and the same amount at the beginning of next semester on Feb. 1.

Students entering universities for the first time receive their loans half a month later due to possible problems with missing data.

According to Hansapank manager Indrek Neivelt, the decision is positive for those who spend their money monthly and will save a little on interests and negative for those, who are interested in taking out the money at once to buy a car.

The agreed-upon interest rate would be 4 percent higher for the government and will remain the same for the students, which has been constantly 5 percent during the last years.

“The 4 percent rise in interest rates is agood idea because the interest rates have increased a lot and there is not much choice left,” said the Federation of the Estonian Students Unions, who previously accused Hansapank for too high claims.

Norwegians acquire Postimees’ shares

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 27, 1998

The Norwegian media group Schibsted ASA, one of the largest media groups in the Nordic region, increased its holding in the Estonian media company Postimees from 34 to 92.5 percent’

Schibsted bought a 58,5 percent stake of shares in Postimees from the former major shareholder Heldur Tonisson.

Tonisson, who previously held 66 percent of the shares in the media group, retained a stake of over 7 percent in Postimees. The media group publishes the leading daily newspaper Postimees , with a circulation of 58,000, and seven magazines.

Postimees Board Chairman Mart Kadastik called Tonisson’s decision to sell the shares to Schibsted “a responsible step made at the right time.” “We have been holding negotiations since last December and we are satisfied with the results,” said Kadastik. Postimees’ competitor Meediakorp expressed the belief that there were financial difficulties behind the acquisition.

Since Schibsted obtained its one-third holding in Postimees earlier this spring, the increase of shares last week was a step further in the initial plan. Postimees will be reorganized into a holding company called Eesti Meedia (Estonian Media Ltd.) that will control all of Postimees’ present subsidiaries.

The acquisition of Postimees accompanies an increase of Schibsted’s share in the Estonian third largest daily Sonumileht, of which 79 percent belonged to Schibsted and 11 percent to Postimees.

The three other popular Estonian newspapers Eesti Paevaleht, Ohtuleht and the weekly Eesti Ekspress are partly controlled by the Swedish media group Marienberg.

Postimees and its biggest competitor Eesti Paevaleht started a campaign some months ago to attract thousands of readers by decreasing subscription prices. Hando Sinisalu, the head of the daily Eesti Paevaleht, predicts these two will be the biggest local dailies in Estonia by the beginning of the 21st century: Eesti Paevaleht will dominate in the northern part of Estonia and Postimees in the southern part, Sinisalu said.

New pension law discriminates pensioners

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 27, 1998

The Estonian Pensioners Union is not satisfied with the pension insurance law approved on June 26.

Hilja Kukk, deputy chairwoman of the Pensioners Union, said the law discriminates the pensioners and does not improve their conditions.

The new pension law consists of three parts, which Kukk calls “crutches,” state pension insurance, voluntary pension insurance and obligatory collection principles.

The law is supposed to ensure future pensioners will receive a higher pension by collecting extra revenue in a pension fund. The law stipulates pensioners should receive a pension that is in accord with the salary.

The pension insurance law that will be adopted by 2000 will take into account the pay people received before the law came into effect.

“This means that a cleaning woman and a professor receive the same pension although the contribution of an educated person to the society has been bigger. The explanation was that converting pays from Russian rubles to Estonian kroons is difficult,” says Kukk.

According to Kukk, the new law does not apply to people born before 1957, and their life is poor as they receive an allowance instead of the pension.

“An allowance is much smaller than an average pension. An average pension is about 1,200 kroons ($83) but most of us receive allowances less than 1,000 kroons,” says Kukk.

There are 370,000 pensioners in Estonia, 300,000 of whom are old-age pensioners and the rest receive subsidies of different kinds.

Kukk said the new law contradicts the constitution because everybody should be equal according to the law and nobody should be discriminated against.

“The pension insurance law puts most of the pensioners and those near retirement in an unfair position compared to other citizens and discriminates them by their age,” Kukk said.

According to the current pension law, the pension of those already in retirement is not linked to the pay they received when working, unlike pension laws adopted in 1926 and 1956. Those laws foresaw an old-age pension which was only 55 – 90 percent of the previous salary.

According to Kukk, MPs have set themselves a pension that is 75 percent of the previous salary, which is about 10,000-16,000 kroons a month.

Kukk compared this to the average salary, which in the second quarter was 4,255 kroons.

This means that there are two different pension laws in Estonia, one for the ordinary people and the other for MPs, Kukk said.

Pensioners’ unions claim that they were not able to stop the approval of the law, which was signed by the President on July 8 despite protests from several parties. Parliament approved the act on June 26 with 51 votes, with one MP voting against and one abstaining.

Now pensioners are taking further steps to fight for their rights.

The Estonian Pensioners Union delivered a petition to the Chancellor of Justice Eerik-Juhan Truuvali demanding that the law be amended so that it would be in accord with the constitution.

They also noted that the law, which was prepared according to the German pattern, does not take into account Estonian circumstances and the fact that Estonia has lived differently for 50 years.

Hilja Kukk claims that the contribution of the people on whose account the nation and culture has continued has been forgotten and their opinions have not been asked when adopting a new pension law.

“The Estonian Republic misses a social program,” says Kukk. The chancellor agreed that there are some problems in the new law and promised to give a final answer by September.

A group of pensioners at the same time have been collecting signatures in order to launch a campaign against Estonia’s EU aspirations if Estonian leaders refuse to bring Estonian pensions up to the average European level and change the pension law.

Although the Pensioners and Families Party is not fully satisfied with the new law, the representative of the party Uno Veski believes that raising the pension to the European average is difficult as the country’s GDP per capita is low and the number of taxpayers is declining fast.

Tallinna Vesi cleans up city water

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 20, 1998

The Tallinn water utility Tallinna Vesi claims the sewage waters it purifies are cleaner than in some rivers, and Tallinn tap water is as good as bottled drinking water.

The company, owned by the Tallinn City Council, managed to make Tallinners forget about rusty water by implementing its restructurization and investment program started in 1994.

The water utility, which supplies water and provides sewage services to Tallinn and the surrounding region, privatized subsidiary services and replaced several repair and emergency services with specialized companies.

Tallinna Vesi has been trying to attract investments to reconstruct its infrastructure. The company earned every fifth kroon in profits on its 1997 turnover of 477 million kroons($34 million), and redirected its profit toward investment. It has also received a 355.2 million kroon loan from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to renovate its network in 1994.

Tallinna Vesi asked the EBRD to change the terms and conditions of the loan it issued. The bank is expected to give its answer after a thorough study of Tallinna Vesi’s investment program. The program foresees a 2 billion kroon investment in the company’s infrastructure until 2003.

The Tallinn City Council is planning to sell one-third of the water utility’s shares after it increases share capital to 1 billion kroons through a 15 million share issue.

 

Improving water quality

The company owns 780 kilometers of water supply network and 850 kilometers of sewerage. The water supply network in Tallinn is oversized because during the Soviet period it was presumed that Tallinn would grow, and the water consumption would increase. Now the water utility works at half capacity and more emphasis is placed on water quality than its quantity.

The company has been working on improving water quality together with Helsinki Water and using studies from British Parkman Ltd.

Last year, the company introduced ozonization at its water treatment plant that significantly improved tap water taste. Pre-ozonization allowed the elimination of pre-chlorification. The consumption of chlorine decreased about four times or by 180 tons.

Valdur Vacht, Tallinna Vesi spokesman, said he is amazed that people prefer to buy bottled drinking water when the city is supplied with tasty, high quality water.

According to European Union standards, Tallinna Vesi’s drinking water from the water treatment plant has been qualified as “very good.”

Vacht said people who live in old houses receive poorer quality water because pipelines, which do not belong to Tallinna Vesi, are old and have to be renovated.

Not only is the company’s network oversized, it is also getting old and could worsen water quality.

For the period of 1999 – 2003, the company has prepared an investment plan that foresees the reconstruction of pipelines older than 60 years. Only 18 percent of the pipelines reach this age. The average age of the water supply pipelines is 30 years old, but there is one sewer in Tallinn’s Old Town that has been in use since the 17th century.

Tallinna Vesi’s annual water production decreased after the collapse of the Soviet Union because of price increases for water and sewerage services. In 1997, the annual water production fell by about 10 percent, compared to 1996, and the total amount of treated potable water was 47.5 million cubic meters.

About 90 percent of Tallinners use purified water from surface water resources coming from as far away as 70 kilometers. The present surface water system guarantees the necessary daily amount of approximately 120,000 cubic meters.

In seven Tallinn regions, only ground water is used, which is also supplied by Tallinna Vesi at the same price as the purified surface water.

Drinking water and sewerage prices increased considerably during the beginning of the year, but the company promised not to raise the price during the next couple of years.

On July 1, tariffs on joint water supply and sewerage network services increased by almost four times. By 2005, it is planned to unify tariffs for private users and companies. The latter pay twice as much as private persons and consume only about 20 percent of all the water.

Vacht said the water consumption price compared to other countries is cheap. Nonetheless, Estonians pay a larger share of their monthly income for water than other Europeans.

 

Cleaning up waste waters

Until 1980, waste water was directed into the sea and was not mechanically treated, but now Tallinna Vesi can boast of one of the best waste water treatment systems in the Baltic Sea region.

About 670 million kroons were invested in the waste water treatment plant which works at half capacity on average days. On rainy days the plant might have to work at full capacity. In 1997, about 67 million cubic meters of waste water were pumped from the main pumping station into the waste water treatment plant.

The waste water treatment branch of Tallinna Vesi includes a waste water inspectorate, which inspects the pollution level of companies and charges them for the pollution.

According to Vacht, purified sewerage water is cleaner than that of rivers flowing into the Gulf of Finland. He confessed to having tasted purified sewerage water, and added that he would never dare to try river water.

Insurance companies merge to fight market slowdown

Te Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 20, 1998

After Hansapank and Hoiupank merged, their insurance subsidiaries decided they will follow suit with a merger of their own. The two largest Estonian life insurance companies, Hansapank Insurance and Eesti Elukindlustus, will consolidate their insurance portfolios in the beginning of 1999.

Eesti Elukindlustus is a life insurance branch of Hoiupank’s subsidiary Eesti Kindlustus. The bank’s subsidiary also has a non-life insurance division, Eesti Varakindlustus.

Eesti Elukindlustus with its 43 percent market share and Hansapank Insurance with its 22 percent share plan to collect 175 million kroon ($12.5 million) premiums in 1998. They have also decided to cut costs on collecting premiums from 0.5 to 0.3 kroons per one collected kroon of premium.

Eesti Varakindlustus in its turn has planned to collect 240 million kroon premiums and cut costs by 0.1 kroons to 0.32 kroons per one collected kroon.

In most countries the share of life insurance premiums in an insurance company is half of all the collected premiums, and specialists predict the same tendency for Estonia in a couple of years.

Today premiums from life insurance form only 30 percent of the total premium portfolio. Premiums from life insurance in Eesti Elukindlustus increased by 130 percent in the first half of 1998. Life insurance service is becoming more popular due to the new pension insurance law.

Life insurance is also the only service for which tariffs have not been raised during the second half of the year. However, most Estonian companies are about to raise their tariffs, which were lowered earlier under pressure from competitors. .

According to Mart Einpalu, Eesti Kindlustus board chairman, the decrease of activity on the insurance market is caused by changes in the economical situation in Estonia. Einpalu cites the decline in optimism, rise of unemployment and the problematic situation on the Estonian financial markets as some of the contributing factors.

In order to work more efficiently, Eesti Elukindlustus merges with Hansapank Insurance. After the merger the companies will control close to two-thirds of the market in terms of premiums.

Both companies ended last year with losses. Hansapank Insurance incurred an 0.2 million kroon loss, while Eesti Elukindlustus’s loss was about 14 million kroons.

According to Mart Magi, financial manager at Eesti Kindlustus, high level of costs and unprofitable investments caused the negative results. The strategies worked out for the year 2000 should bring about more profitable results.

International quality experts recognize dairy’s production

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 13, 1998

Tallinna Piimatoostus (TP), the second largest Estonian dairy, became the first dairy in the Baltics to receive an ISO 9001 international quality certificate from the international company Bureau Veritas Quality International.

ISO certificates are awarded to companies that have tight control of all operations from product development until distribution. Only six other companies in Estonia have been awarded with an ISO certificate.

TP, which received the certificate Aug. 6, the day of its 105th birthday, was privatized four years ago and has a share capital of 80 million kroons ($5.5 million). The share capital is divided among three private individuals and three large companies – EPEKS, the Estonian Union Bank and Epexim LLC. Since 1997, it has invested 2.2 million kroons for improving the quality of its system.

TP Board Chairman Aare Annus told the ETA news agency that the certificate will give the company an advantage in exporting products to the CIS countries because these countries are eager for more European quality products to be introduced in their markets.

The CIS connection should help offset declines in profits to Russia. Thanks to the high taxes Russia imposes on imports, exports to Russia, CIS countries’ main trading partner, have not been profitable, TP representatives said. In addition, TP says that it does not plan to enter the Western market.

Exports have decreased from 28 to 15 percent, according to TP, mainly because of political conflicts between Russia and Latvia that erupted last spring. The tension between Russia and Estonia’s southern Baltic neighbor, which had parts of Moscow shying away from all Latvian goods, seeped over to the exports of the other Baltic states, thus diminishing TP’s sales in Moscow.

It also didn’t help when Moscow Mayor Yuri Luhzkov urged Muscovites last spring to avoid Latvian products.

“For the Russians, Latvia and Estonia are almost the same and we have had difficulties selling our products there,” Annus said.

The dairy employs 300 people, 80 of whom work in production. Most of the production process is automatic. Investment in thermal processing machinery accounted for the largest share of development spending last year

TP, together with its four subsidiaries, is producing and marketing 43 different dairy products under TP and Tere (“hello” in Estonian) brand names.

The company started producing and marketing to Latvia this month under the Sveiks brand name, which means “hello” in Latvian. There are plans to expand to Lithuania and the Ukraine. But TP is mainly interested in the local market, where it controls more than 20 percent of the dairy product market.

In addition to dairy products, TP produces juice under the Rio and Largo brand names.

Hansapank reneges on student loans

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 13, 1998

Just weeks before the beginning of a new school term, Hansapank announced it cannot fully fund student loans to 25,000 clients according to the terms of a government agreement.

Hansapank, like other Estonian banks, signed an agreement with the government last year that requires it to provide student clients with 400 billion kroons ($28 million) worth of student loans at an interest rate of 10.5 per cent, 5.5 percent of which is paid by the government. The government acts as guarantor, and this year it has to guarantee more than 500 million kroons. Each student client is entitled to a maximum loan of 13,000 kroons.

But because of financial difficulties and the precarious state of the Estonian banking sector, Hansapank said it can only lend 10,000 kroons per student and will only be able to meet the 13,000 kroon level if the government immediately injects 50 percent of the total outlay as deposits – 200 billion kroons.

Hansapank has also announced it wants to receive 13.5 percent interest and an increase in the share paid by the government from 5.5 percent to 8.5 percent. The student pays the remaining 5 percent.

Initially, Hansapank had said it could only fund 5,000 kroon loans per student without government help, but subsequently upped the figure to 10,000 kroons.

Funding the student loans at the full rate without government help would force Hansapank to severely cut back loans to the business sector, bank representatives contend. The Estonian Ministry of Finance is reviewing the agreement.

Meanwhile, students who are expecting the loan come September are starting to worry. Lauri Koop, CEO of the Federation of the Estonian Student Unions (FESU), said Hansapank is blackmailing the government.

There are still about 25,000 students who have not taken advantage of the favorable loan available by this government agreement, Koop said. This year, 7,000 students are entering university. Various Estonian banks have said they are ready to serve them but have clamored for the government to up the interest rate to 14.5 percent.

There were initially six banks that won a competitive bidding tender and signed the loan contract with the government. After the bankruptcies and mergers that have characterized the Estonian banking sector of late, students can now choose between three – Hansapank, Uhispank and ERA Pank.

The FESU has recommended students who have yet to take out a loan void Hansapank in favor of Uhispank and ERA Pank, both of whom say they can fully finance the loans of their student clients.

Uhispank has 1,450 student loan clients, ERA Pank just 50. Both banks, however, said they will not assume the burden of the Hansapank and Hoiupank clients

Hoiupank used to be the biggest loan supporter and now, after its merger with Hansapank, serves about 92 percent of the students.

The loan sum in the agreement has increased from year to year – last year it was 10,000 kroons, in 1996, 5,000 kroons and in 1995, 2,500 kroons.

Tuition fees have increased too, and according to the FESU, it ranges between 13,500-45,000 kroons per year. There are tuition-free universities, but competition there is especially fierce, and even those students need some money. According to Koop, the minimum living standard in Estonia in 1997 was 1,141 kroons a month. A student loan of 5,000 kroons a year is nothing more than a joke, she said.

Estonian Energy enjoying privatization

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 06, 1998

Since falling into private hands in 1997, Eesti Elektrivorkude Ehituse AS (Estonian Electrical Network Construction Ltd.) has started enjoying the benefits of being the first fully privatized structure under the umbrella of Eesti Energia (Estonian Energy).

The company has operated under different names for the last 49 years. Andres Vainola, a member of the Elektrivorkude Ehituse board, said the company has been competing for various tenders. The company has to compete with not-yet privatized structures of Eesti Energia in addition to privatized competitors such as AS Harju Elekter, AS Elektritsentrum, AS Gaur and others.

Most of those competitors are state owned companies. Some have suggested this means the competition is not quite fair. In state companies, the movement of resources is not always clear.

Vainola thinks otherwise.

“The competition has been fierce and fair,” said Vainola. He says the privatization of Eesti Energia, however, is necessary and right.

The market share of Estonian Electrical Network Construction Ltd. is about 12 percent. The sales of the construction market in 1997 was around 9.5 billion kroons ($655 million), about 10 percent of which was formed by the energy construction market.

The company mainly operates on the Estonian market and it has plans to expand into Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

In 1997, the company won tenders for the installation of fibre-optical lightning protection cable in Lithuania and Latvia. Lithuanian Energy and Latvian Energy ordered the works. The company also won a local competition organized by the operators of mobile communications that require the contractor to build communication poles in Estonia for AS EMT (Estonian Mobile Phone), AS Radiolinja and AS Ritabell.

In 1997, the company worked on Minilink-15 communication systems for the Estonian Railway and radar masts for the Estonian Border Guard based on the order by the State in co-operation with the French company Thomson-CSF were completed.

One of the best indicators of last years’ success was the increase in the share of private enterprises in the total turnover, from 32 percent to 39 percent compared to 1996, which points to the competitiveness of their construction services. The share of Estonian Energy and its enterprises fell at the same time by 6 percent to 49 percent.

In 1997, the company gained a 23 percent growth in turnover through a more efficient usage of inner resources. The Estonian construction market grew even faster.

On the administration side, the objective of the company is to establish a balance between primary activities and auxiliary activities in order to decrease and cut costs on the administration apparatus.

The company plans to invest 12 million kroons this year. The predicted sales and profit for 1998 are 128 million kroons and 8 million kroons. The figures in 1997 were 106.8 million kroons and 6.6 million kroons respectively.

Tax Board achieved goals set for 1997

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
By Kairi Kurm
Aug 06, 1998

The Estonian Tax Board is satisfied with last year’s revenue, which exceeded expectations by 110 percent.

The tax board collected declarations from 294,467 people last year with a sum total of 11.57 billion kroons ($8 million), up by 2.2 billion kroons from 1996. The number of people declaring their incomes is about 26 percent of the Estonian population, up 3 percent from 1996

“This might be caused by the additional exemptions from taxes like expenses on studies,” said Tax Board Director General Kalev Jarvelill.

Income tax reports also show that the wealth of the Estonian people has grown noticably. The number of millionaires, for example, has grown from 48 people to 162. During the last four years of research people with incomes of more than 3 million kroons a year have been recorded. A total of 13 Estonians declared an income of more than 3 million kroons in 1997 and their collective income reached 92 million kroons.

“These people represent very different fields of activity and a number of them are not known as successful businessmen,” said Jarvelill. According to Estonian laws, the incomes of the taxpayers can only be published by their consent.

About 22,000 people who earned 100,000 to 500,000 kroons declared 31 percent of the total revenue. Nearly 135,000 people who earned 10,000 to 50,000 kroons declared the same amount from the total revenue. The income of the people who earned 50,000 to100,000 kroons made about 30 percent of the total revenue.

The share of the incomes of millionaires and people with total income under 10,000 kroons was almost the same, about 2.7 per cent.

Estonia has a uniform 26 percent income tax rate and the state collected 2.3 billion kroons in income tax in 1997. Two months ago, the Center Party suggested progressive income tax with four tax rates. The plan to replace the present 26 percent rate with a graduated tax was dismissed; economic experts saw it as a step back in the country’s development.

Under the bill, the tax-exempt monthly income would have risen to 1,200 kroons from the previous 500 kroons and annual income above 485,601 kroons would have been taxable at a rate of 33 percent.

According to Jarvelill, the accrued revenue from enterprises has been good as well. He points to the work of the tax board and the growth of the dividend takings to explain this. The number of debts has increased, he said, probably due to the crisis on the stock exchange.

Some companies owe a combined total of 1.16 billion kroons to the state. The biggest debtor is the fishery AS Ookean , which owes 75 million kroons. The second is the dairy Tartu Piim KPU with a debt of almost 16 million kroons. Most of the biggest debtors are bankrupt.

Taxes collected from enterprises are half those collected from individual income tax. The share of enterprise income tax from the state budget has decreased by almost three times during the last five years.

Excise tax gives almost as much revenue to the state budget as the taxes from the individual income. In 1990, the excise tax had been imposed only on fur products. Since 1991, exise taxes on spirits, wine, beer and tobacco have been imposed.

In addition, the motor vehicle excise tax since 1995 and the packaging excise tax since 1997 have been paid. In 1997, the excise tax payments formed 17.2 per cent of the state budget revenues.

The strategy of the tax board in 1997 was focused on VAT. The accrual of VAT formed the biggest share in the state revenues, about 48 percent.

The Estonian tax board is going to cooperate this year with the tax boards of other Baltic States in order to work more efficiently in the whole region.

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