Four firms eager to handle Tallinn waste

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Mar 25, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

An internationally-known French waste management company is one of four candidates angling to manage Tallinn’s waste disposal in the future.

CGEA-ONYX, one of Europe’s leading waste disposal companies, along with Germany’s SKP Recycling and Finland’s Tekra Environmental Technology and Yit Corporation, are eager to land a bid to establish a refuse dump in the next two years, 20 kilometers from Tallinn. The dump would be used to collect and manage 200,000 tons of waste annually.

The Tallinn City Council began a competition for the bid among these international companies after it decided to close the Paaskula refuse dump to establish a better one that will also meet the demands of the European Union.

CGEA-ONYX representatives visited Tallinn last week and promised to invest 750 million kroons ($52 million) into the planned refuse dump and manage the waste cheaper than the Tallinn City Council can dream of – for 330 kroons per ton instead of the planned 500 kroons.

Pascal le Miere, director of CGEA-ONYX’s operations in Central and Eastern Europe, says that the company can make it into a more environmentally friendly refuse dump. Passers-by, le Miere said, would not even notice the difference between a refuse dump or a golf course.

The company is also capable of establishing waste incineration with energy recovery. In North America it ranks fourth in this field.

CGEA- ONYX is the world’s fourth largest waste management company and can operate in all areas of waste management and cleaning, from collection to treatment and re-use of waste through to urban and industrial cleaning.

The company employees 45,000 people and its turnover reached almost 42 billion kroons last year. CGEA- ONYX in turn belongs to Vivendi Group, the world’s leader in utilities.


Analysts revise forecast for Estonian economy

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Aug 12, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

The Estonian economy will grow a total of 0.4 percent in 1999, reported the Estonian Finance Ministry on August 3 after revising the analysis made in April this year.

Compared with the preliminary forecast, economic growth is expected to be nearly 1.7 percent lower. The consumer price index is expected to rise 3.7 percent in 1999, compared with 4.5 percent in the April estimate. In 1998 the ministry predicted that in 1999 the economy would grow by 4 percent and the consumer price index by 7.2 percent.

“The economy has developed differently from what we foresaw,” said Daniel Vaarik, adviser at the Finance Ministry. “We realized this in June, when we noticed that the economy in the second quarter of the year did not grow as much as we had expected.”

The initial forecast made by the Ministry of Finance was made without the knowledge of the final size of the budget cuts and the size and sources of the funds to be attracted to fill the budget gap. “Nobody doubts the economy will liven up, but we cannot tell exactly when to expect it to happen. It has not taken place yet,” said Vaarik.

Ardo Hansson, a World Bank analyst, told the business daily Aripaev that he expects the eco-nomy to grow by the end of this year and also next year.

“It is good to be conservative and to add costs to the budget rather than cut them down,” said Hansson.

Maris Lauri, an analyst at Hansapank, said that the economy has not slowed down since the beginning of the summer and it should grow significantly in the second half of the year. Hansapank also revised its forecast after the statistical department released the economic figures of the first quarter, said Lauri. Hansapank predicts the economy’s growth to be below 1 percent in 1999.

According to the statistics department, the gross domestic product dropped by 5.6 percent in the first quarter although most of the analysts, as well as the ministry, do not think the drop was so big. According to the estimates made with the statistics available, the economy slowed down by 2 percent in the first half of the year.

The ministry expects the eco-nomy to grow by 3 percent to 3.5 percent in the second half of the year, according to the new forecast.

The ministry also revised the GDP estimates for the next year and cut the planned volume of next year’s state budget by nearly 1 billion kroons ($68.4 million), from 17.7 billion to 16.77 billion kroons.

According to the new forecast the economy will grow by 4 percent to 4.5 percent in the next year, or 1 percentage point less than estimated in April.

Inflation is expected to reach 3.6 percent to 4 percent in the year 2000, compared with 5 percent in the previous forecast released in April.

Hansapank expects a 5 percent to 6 percent increase in GDP and 4.5 percent inflation in the year 2000. The Bank of Estonia is also planning to revise its forecast and cut its GDP growth forecast, which presently stands at 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent.


A spoonful of sugar

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Apr 01, 1999
Kairi Kurm

Pins, sugar medicines and massage treatment have made their way to Estonia. Kairi Kurm checks out the opening of a new alternative health center.

Those in Tallinn who suffer from mind and body aches have a new option now that Onnuri, a health center that offers bioenergetic treatment, has opened its doors.

For those yet unaware, bioenergetic treatment involves reflexes and the energies that flow in the body. The people at Onnuri believe that the usual method of treating one part of the body does not take away the “real” problem. In order to be fully cured, a person has to be examined in whole, searching for the many reasons that caused his illness.

According to homeopath Oleg Pervushin, the number of patients who bring sickness upon themselves has doubled in the last 25 years and now is almost 90 percent.

Pervushin and his colleagues are determined to cure these chronic patients. But they cannot do it without the patient’s cooperation.

“Each person has to help himself as much as he can and believe in what we are doing, not just sit down and say do it now,” said homeopath Nelly Tower.

Another popular tradition, doctor-patient communication, is not used by these homeopaths.

“We try not to tell patients what kind of problems they have because this often makes things worse,” explained Tower. “We just give them the right medicine.”

According to fellow doctor Juri Peterson, the “right medicine” is like a mixture of sugar and water with a very small content of the “real subject.” The treatment is slow but thorough.

Medicines like aspirin, the doctors at Onnuri say, are poisons that treat and harm at the same time. Homeopathic medicines are meant for treating the whole body and are custom designed for each patient, not each problem. Sticking to this idea, the treatments for men are different than those for women.

How do homeopaths figure out what is ailing their patients? They point a metal object at certain points of the hand and examine the resistance of bioactive representative points of the body.
A dose of their own medicine

Julia Korobova and her family have done without traditional medicine for the last 12 years.

“Disease comes when people are weak,” said Korobova.

She went on to explain that if the mind is strong, sickness does not reach you. Peterson backs her up by pointing out that monks did not get infected during the plagues, when treating people, because they were strongly religious.

Korobova compares people to musical instruments, they sound nice when they work well. When they are healthy they are happy and love their job and the people around them.

“When people get older, they laugh less,” said Peterson. “We want to bring this laughter back by finding a balance in their body.”

People who seek homeopathic treatment have more than just physical ailments. Homeopaths believe that physical problems cause mental problems and mental problems cause physical ones. To put “harmony” back in their lives, these people turn to homeopaths.

“People open themselves up under our care because of the strong support we offer them,” explained Korobova.

Korobova and her colleagues are all licensed doctors who have been practicing the untraditional method of treatment for about 10 years.

Untraditional healing has been used throughout the world for centuries. It is the method of choice for such well known sets as the English royal family.

“Onnuri Center is not a commercial institution,” said Peterson.

Onnuri stands for international love center in Korean, a new movement in psychology.

The first visit to a doctor at Onnuri Center, where a patient is examined for about one and a half hours, costs 290 kroons ($20). The price of the next visit depends on each patient and usually comes about one month later. The health center treats patients in Russian, Estonian and English.

“One month of treatment takes away an illness that lasted for a year,” said Peterson.

Patients can also get Yumeiho, a one-hundred-movement massage treatment, and Su-Jock Korean acupuncture.


Norma pays out hefty dividends

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Apr 01, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

The Estonian seat belt equipment producer Norma is paying out large dividends, but observers smell a rat, considering the company’s economic results and poor market situation in the country.

Under the board’s proposal, Norma will pay out 83 percent of the group’s net profit, or 39.6 million kroons ($2.77 million) in dividends. That amounts to 3 kroons per share.

The Estonian business daily Aripaev, however, speculated that Norma’s owners are using the company’s profit for themselves instead of helping the company to develop.

According to Aripaev, the share of profit left in the company has decreased from 90 percent to almost 17 percent during the last three years.

Last year was not the best for Norma – net profit was 47.6 million kroons, down 99 million kroons from the profit in 1997.

The 1998 revenues have also declined due to the fall in sales and unfavorable foreign currency rates. Norma suffered about a 42 million kroon loss from the decrease of the rates of the Russian ruble and U.S. dollar.

The group’s turnover for last year was 482.7 million kroons compared with 560 million kroons in 1997.

But the company’s management refutes any criticism. Peep Siimon, managing director, said Norma can afford to pay out dividends because it is overcapitalized.

“Last year’s results were good. An almost 10 percent profitability rate is a good indicator,” said Raivo Harand, controller at Norma.

The managers of the company, who are also big shareholders in Norma, have decided to reinvest their revenues received in dividends in order to decrease liabilities and increase investments.

The share price climbed up by almost 8 percent after the board announced its decision March 23. Analysts predict a drop in price after dividends will be paid out. The list of shareholders entitled to receive the dividend will be approved on April 30.

Norma has also had good progress in the recovery of debt from its Eastern customers, and two of its largest clients Avotaz and Gaz. Clients’ debts to Norma for deliveries amounted to 136.7 million kroons at the end of last year, which compared with the company’s turnover, is still very high.

For next year, management has predicted a steep rise in the company’s unconsolidated profits from 37 million kroons to almost 81 million kroons and a comparatively conservative rise in turnover from 413.7 million kroons to 440 million kroons.


Uhispank’s magic machines

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Apr 01, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

Uhispank, Estonia’s second largest bank, enrolled Mr. Q from the James Bond movies to popularize its new automated ‘wonder’ machines designed to reduce the number of bank branches.

The bank placed 23 mini-banks, called U-Pank, in supermarkets throughout the country. The ‘wonder machine,’ which takes up only 6 square meters of space, performs a number of functions: It’s an Automated Teller Machine and a telephone at the same time.

“U-Pank consists of different details and we can rearrange it any time. We can fulfill it in quality and quantity. We can arrange new services and take them away if the turnover is not satisfactory. It is like Lego,” said Erik Sakkov, Uhispank advertising director and U-Pank project manager.

Uhispank invested about 16 million kroons ($1.1 million) in this project which it started in 1997. Each U-Pank machine, which offers services in three languages: Estonian, Russian and English, costs from around 600,000 kroons to 700,000 kroons.

Sakkov said the project will repay itself as soon as people get used to it and Uhispank can reduce its number of branches.

“The present 100 branches in Estonia are too much,” said Sakkov. “The new machines do not charge anything for service at the moment, but if they are set in the future, their service charge will definitely be about twice cheaper than charges in branches.”

The idea of setting up these ‘mini-banks’ in the supermarket came from a well known U.S. bank, Wells Fargo, which became one of the world’s most efficient banks thanks to its supermarket branch net.

Hansapank established an electronic system, Hansa-24, some years ago, but it did not work because it was far away from customers and people did not get used to it.

Estonian banks used to repeat what was done in the West, but now they are able to make the same steps with leading Western banks. Last year there were 28 banks in Europe working with Internet banking services, five of which were Estonian, said Sakkov.

Uhispank is unlikely to set U-Pank in Lithuania and Latvia, since it curtails its activities in these countries after Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken moved in.

When Estonians think U-Pank, they think of a handsome Italian doing wonders. Uhispank hired Desmond Llewelyn, who plays Mr. Q and constructs wonder equipment for James Bond, to head the advertising campaign.

“It is because Uhispank’s client is like James Bond, and Mr. Q is ready to prepare new equipment for the client,” Sakkov said. “We advertise the usefulness of the bank instead of declaring how majestic it is.”