General government deficit decreased last year

According to preliminary data of Statistics Estonia, in 2013 the Estonian general government deficit was 0.2% and the gross debt level was 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

At the end of 2013, the total expenditures of the general government exceeded the revenues by 34 million euros, accounted as the Maastricht deficit criteria. By the end of the year, the central government deficit decreased from 123 million euros in 2012 to 14 million euros. The deficit of the local government sector increased almost three times over the year, amounting to 83 million euros. The budget of social security funds was also in surplus by 63 million euros, but it was tighter than in three previous years.

In 2013, both the levels of the general government’s total expenditures and revenues were 3% higher than a year before. Returns from taxes to the general government budget were 5% higher. For the second consecutive year, revenues from the personal and corporate income tax increased the most (15% in total). Property income underwent a significant fall (decrease of 16%), mostly due to a decrease in dividends. The foreign aid revenues lessened significantly over the year, but for this change it is important to notice the high level of income in 2012 – in 2013, the foreign aid revenues accounted for 405 million euros, 506 million in 2012 and 432 million euros in 2011. There was a considerable change in investments – in 2013, the general government sector spent 154 million euros less for investments than in 2012.

The consolidated debt of the general government (Maastricht debt) rose by 132.7 million euros, reaching 1.8 billion euros by the end of 2013. The local governments as well as the central government contributed to the growth of the debt level. The volume of the long-term securities issued by the central government decreased by 4% and the loan liabilities rose by 8%. The share of foreign debt in the central government’s loan liabilities was nearly 90%.

The Estonian involvement in the European temporary rescue mechanism, EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) increased by 104 million euros in 2013. At the end of 2013, the liabilities towards the EFSF totalled 458 million euros, of which 80% went for the participation in the rescue package for Greece, 11% for Portugal and 9% for Ireland.

The overall debt level of the local governments grew by 12% compared to 2012. The volume of both short-term and long-term loans increased (15% in total), including the 12% of the loans financed by foreign capital. The volume of the securities other than shares increased slightly as well (7%). Similarly to 2012, social security funds did not contribute to the general government sector debt as at the end of 2013 either.

Surplus/deficit and debt level of the general government in Estonia, 2007–2013

Diagram: Surplus/deficit and debt level of the general government in Estonia, 2007–2013

In Estonia the general government sector comprises three sub-sectors: 1) central government (state budget units and extra-budgetary funds, foundations, legal persons in public law); 2) local governments (city and rural municipality governments with their subsidiary units, foundations); 3) social security funds (Health Insurance Fund, Unemployment Insurance Fund).

Eurostat is going to publish the data on the preliminary debt and deficit levels of the Member States on 23 April.

On 21 May 2013, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 549/2013 on the European system of national and regional accounts in the European Union (ESA 2010). From 1 September 2014, all Member States will change the current methodology, ESA 95, to a new methodology, ESA 2010. Statistics Estonia will publish the usual data for the general government’s deficit and debt levels according to the new methodology on 23 September 2014.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Estonian kayak manufacturer becomes one of Europe’s top three makers

Tahe Kayaks that manufacturers canoes and kayaks has acquired French Egalis, Europe’s leading manufacturer of kayaks, for less than EUR 4m, writes Äripäev.

The acquisition means that Tahe Kayaks is now among Europe’s three largest makers.

Read more from BBN

Number of households with children is decreasing

According to the data of the 2011 Population and Housing Census (PHC 2011), there were 599,832 households in Estonia. Compared to the previous, 2000 Population Census, the share of households with children younger than 18 years of age has decreased from 33.6% to 25.2%.

In 2011, one-family households  accounted for 56.7% of all households (i.e. households with married or cohabiting  couples or households with lone parent), where 75.7% of household members  lived. Compared to 2000, the share of households with cohabiting couples has  increased (from 10.1% to 13.6%) and the share of households with married  couples has decreased (from 36.8% to 30.1%). The share of households with lone  parents among one-family households has decreased by 1.7 percentage points. The  number and share of households with one member has increased considerably.

There were a few multi-family  households in Estonia, where e.g. the family of grandparents and younger  generation lived together (1.6%), there were also a few non-family households  with several members (1.8%) (e.g. households where two sisters or brothers or a  grandparent with a grandchild lived together).

In 2000, there were children  younger than 18 years of age in every third household (33.6%), in 2011 only in  every fourth household (25.2%). The number of households with children aged  less than 18 years decreased by more than 44,000, of which the number of  households with one child decreased over 25,000 and the number of families with  several children over 19,000.

The younger the children, the more  often they live with cohabiting parents (41.3% of children aged less than 3 years,  20.5% of children aged 12–17). The older the children, the more often they live  in families of lone parents (16.8% of children aged less than 3 years, 28% of  children aged 12–17). The last fact characterises the trend of decay of  families – many children are not born in the families of lone parents, but stay  living with one parent as a result of the decay of the family.

Although the number of permanent  residents has decreased by more than 75,000 persons compared to 2000, in 2011  the number of households has grown by 3%. This has brought along the decrease in  the size of the average household from 2.33 members to 2.13 members. The share  of one-member households has grown significantly (from 33.5% to 39.9%, but the  share of households larger than average, first and foremost households with 3  and 4 members has decreased (from 18.8% to 15.9% and from 13.3% to 10.5%,  respectively).

There are several  reasons for the above mentioned changes. Firstly, compared to the 2000 Census  the number of children younger than 18 years of age in total population has  declined by 74,000. That is the reason why the number and share of households  with children has decreased significantly, but in general the households with  children aged less than 18 years are households with the biggest number of  members. Secondly, the share of elderly people in population has increased who  usually live alone or two together. The third reason is connected with the  improvement of living conditions, as a result of which households connecting  several families have often decayed and families have started to live  separately. This is shown by the changes in the structure of households as well  as in the size of living area and number of dwellings. Fourthly, the number of  one-member households has increased on account of the growth in the number of  students by more than 11,000.

Read more from Statistics Estonia blog

1/3 of donations used for administration

Eesti Ekspress weekly writes that while the largest charitable organisations collected EUR 1.6 million on donations last year, they are spending about a third on administration costs.

For instance, SEB Heategevusfond collected 353,551 euros last year and declared 83,579 euros as its administration costs.

Read more from BBN

Over 46 000 saw matches of UEFA U-19 finals in Estonia

The 11th Football European Under-19 Championship finals held in Estonia from 3-15 July were extremely popular with the public, attracting 46 412 spectators or on average 3 094 spectators per match, organisers said. The 15 matches of the finals were played in the capital Tallinn and in the regional capitals Rakvere and Haapsalu.

Compared with the spectator numbers of the earlier UEFA U-19 championship finals, Estonia beat Finland, which had 29 700 spectators, Norway with 28 091, Switzerland with 43 170, the Czech Republic with 45 484, Northern Ireland with 19 464, Romania with 22 000, and Liechtenstein with 20 510 spectators, the Estonian Football Association told BNS.

The director of the competition, Anne Rei, said she had received personal thanks from all teams along with expressions of satisfaction with the quality of the pitches, hotels, organisation of transport, level of volunteers, and the number of spectators.

The tournament ended with Spain defending their title, which resulted in a 1-0 (0-0) victory over Greece at Tallinn’s Lilleküla stadium on Sunday night. It took Spain 80 minutes to break down Greece but their victory in Estonia was their sixth in just 11 editions of the competition. The late goal to make Spain champions again was scored by Jese Rodriguez.

Spain was also victorious 2-1 when the two sides met previously in group A of the Tallinn tournament.

Source: Estonian Review

Traffic in Estonian airspace grew by tenth

The national air traffic services company Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS (Estonian Air Navigation Services) served 94 709 flights in the airspace of Estonia during the first six months of this year, 9% more than in the same period a year ago.

More than two-thirds of the flights taking place in the Estonian airspace are overflights. The number of flights that passed through the Estonian airspace was 67 514, the number of inbound and outbound flights was 22 848, and flights within Estonia numbered 4 347. In comparison with the first six months of 2011, the number of inbound and outbound flights increased the most, or by 40.5%. The number of flights within the country grew 14.2% and that of overflights one percent.

The biggest number of flights in any separate month during the first half-year took place in June, 18 452, and the smallest number, 13 234, in February. In the first six months of 2011 the company served 86 890 flights and during the whole year it served 182 979 flights. During 2010 it served 160 723 flights.

The density of air traffic in the Estonian airspace has been growing constantly since the country re-established its independence, with the only setback happening in 2009 when 156 518 flights were served, 11.3% fewer than in 2008.

The number of flights served in 1993 was 35 902 and in 2000, 81 252. Flights served last year mark a 410% increase over 1993 and a 125% increase over 2000.

Source: Estonian Review

Trade decreased in April

According to Statistics Estonia, in April 2012, exports of goods from Estonia decreased by 7% and imports to Estonia by 4% at current prices compared to April of the previous year. Compared to the same month of the previous year, exports decreased already for the second month in succession, which is also influenced by the high comparison basis last year. Trade decreased also compared to March.

In April 2012, exports from Estonia amounted to 1 billion euros and imports to Estonia to 1.1 billion euros at current prices. The trade deficit was 97 million euros and it slightly increased compared to April 2011.

In monthly basis or compared to the previous month, exports and imports increased during the first months of the year, but in April compared to March exports decreased by 5% and imports by 7%. The decrease in exports turnover was mainly influenced by the decrease in the dispatches of machinery and equipment, and imports turnover by the decrease in the arrivals of mineral fuels.

In Estonia’s exports in April, the biggest share was held by machinery and equipment (28% of Estonia’s total exports), followed by mineral fuels (incl. motor spirits, shale oils and electricity) (17%) and metals and products thereof (10%). The decrease in exports compared to April 2011 was mainly influenced by the decrease in the dispatches of fuels and machinery and equipment (down by 33% and 5%, respectively). The slight increase was mentioned in the dispatches of the raw materials and products of chemical industry (the growth rate 20%).

In April the biggest share of Estonia’s imports was held by machinery and equipment (26% of Estonia’s total imports), followed by mineral fuels (15%) and transport equipment (12%). The decrease in total imports compared to the previous year, was mostly influenced by a decrease in the arrivals of mineral fuels (down by 47%). Only the arrivals of transport equipment increased significantly (by 52%).

The top destination countries of Estonia’s exports were Finland (15% of Estonia’s total exports), followed by Sweden (14%) and Russia (11%). Compared to April 2011, the decrease in total exports was mostly influenced by the decrease in the dispatches to Sweden and the USA (down by 29% and 47%, respectively). Exports to Russia increased by 21%. Electrical equipment, wood and products of wood and furniture were the main commodities exported to Finland and Sweden, mechanical and electrical equipment and dying products to Russia.

The main countries of consignment were Finland (14% of Estonia’s total imports), Sweden and Lithuania (10% both). Compared to April 2011, arrivals of goods from Russia and Latvia decreased significantly (down by 57% and 31%, respectively). But arrivals of goods from Lithuania and Ukraine increased. Fuels were the main commodities imported from Finland and Lithuania, electrical equipment and transport equipment from Sweden.

According to Estonian Institute of Economic Research, the economic sentiment indicator, which reflects Estonia’s entrepreneurs’ and consumers’ confidence, has also shown a positive trend in the first months of the year. But in April the indicator deteriorated. The same indicator decreased in May besides Estonia also in Sweden and Finland.

Estonian trade by months, 2010–2012

Diagram: Estonian trade by months, 2010–2012

Read more from Statistics Estonia

Oldest pharmacy in Europe marks 590th anniversary

On Saturday Estonia’s oldest pharmacy, the Raeapteek (Town Hall Pharmacy) situated in the centre of Tallinn’s Old Town, is marking 590 years since it was first mentioned in written records. The first mention of the Raeapteek in town council records dates back to 1422, when a pharmacist called Nyclawes expressed readiness to serve the town council, the Tallinn city government said. However, as at least two persons ran the pharmacy before him it is not known to this day exactly when the pharmacy was established.

As far as is known, the Raeapteek is the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Europe and medical institution in Estonia, as well as the oldest business in Estonia that has continuously occupied the same premises.

In addition to their role as pharmacists, owners of the Raeapteek actively participated in governing the city and in its cultural and social life. For nearly three centuries the property was owned and the pharmacy run by ten successive generations of the Burchart family.

In addition to medicines, the pharmacy sold paper, ink, precious stones, spices, gunpowder and other goods. Spiced wine and marzipan are two products sold to this day whose recipes date back to the 15th century.

The Raeapteek continues operating as a pharmacy and a museum.

Source: Estonian Review

Tallinn 89th city in quality of living index

Tallinn is in 89th place, unchanged from last year, in the fresh worldwide quality of living ranking published by the international consultancy Mercer Human Resource Consulting on Tuesday.

Vienna has the best living standard in the world, according to the Mercer 2011 Quality of Living Survey. Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third position, respectively, and Munich is in fourth with Duesseldorf and Vancouver sharing fifth place. Frankfurt is in seventh, followed by Geneva in eighth, while Copenhagen and Bern share ninth place.

Of the Baltic capitals, Vilnius placed 79th, while Riga was two notches behind Tallinn in place 91. The rankings of all three capitals didn’t change from the similar survey for 2010. Stockholm ranked 20th and Helsinki is 35th.

The Ukrainian capital Kiev was in place 161 and the Russian capital Moscow in 165th place. At the bottom of the table, in place 221, came the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Mercer conducts the survey to help governments and multi-national companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. The index list covers 221 cities, ranked against New York as the base city. Mercer evaluates local living conditions according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories ranging from political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, health and sanitation to availability of food and the natural environment.

Source: Estonian Review

First 4G commercial network in Estonia opened

On Dec.16, 2010 the telecommunications operator EMT opened the first ever commercial fourth generation mobile communications (4G) network in Estonia. EMT said Estonia was the 11th country in the world where a 4G network was open to customers.
The CEO of EMT, Valdo Kalm, said that EMT opened the first 4G test network in Estonia back in February and success of the tests enabled it to launch the 4G commercial network immediately after receiving the frequency license.
The Technical Surveillance Authority issued EMT a 4G frequency license on Thursday. 4G, or fourth generation of cellular wireless standards, enables high speed data transmission up to five times faster than the current 3G network and is comparable with the broadband network.
With 4G, many new services become possible, for example, mobile TV in high definition, mobile conference calls and high-tech virtual reality applications.
In EMT’s 4G network the maximum data transmission speed is 100 Mbps and average speeds range from 20 to 80 Mbps.

Source: Estonian Review

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