Estonia loses a hundred million to grey economy

According to a survey of the Estonian grey or shadow economy made by the Estonian institute of economic affairs,  the state is losing considerable amount as consumers say that about 8 percent of their total spending on goods and services is obtained from the black market.

Although the survey showed that the share of unreported salaries and consumption of illegal goods and services has been declining, only about half of the respondents (52 percent) said that they prefer to buy official goods.

13 percent of respondents said tht they prefer to buy goods from the illegal market while 35 percent said that buy illegal goods randomly.

The most popular illegal goods are pirated movies and downloading or copying of music CDs and music files (32 percent) and tobacco products (31 percent).

Most frequently, unreported pay was paid in construction and in the transport sector.

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Estonia most peaceful post-Communist country

Estonia was ranked 41st in the 2012 Global Peace Index, while Lithuania was 43rd and Latvia was 45th,

Estonia is also the highest-ranked post-Communist country in this year’s index.

The top three countries in the index were Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand.

Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, the GPI ranks 158 nations.

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Seaplane Harbour attracts many visitors

The historic seaplane hangars in Tallinn’s Seaplane Harbour that opened their doors to the public as a branch of the Estonian Maritime Museum exactly one month ago attracted 45 000 visitors in the first month.

Besides Estonians, large numbers of tourists from other countries have been to see the hangars. Nearly one third of the guests were foreigners, Seaplane Harbour marketing manager Triin Visnapuu said.

The director of the Maritime Museum, Urmas Dresen, said the visitor numbers are about one third bigger than the museum dared hope initially. “When we said last fall we’d bring 100 000 people to the museum in seven months, we were looked at as if we were slightly nutty. Today we’d risk a guess that we’ll reach this number even before the snow falls,” he said.

The two-year restoration of the Seaplane Harbour and creation of the exposition cost around 15 million euros. The three-level exposition includes the legendary Estonian submarine Lembit, a life-size copy of the Short 184 seaplane, and the 16th-century Maasilinn shipwreck found off the island of Saaremaa.

The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colorful history of Estonia – the country whose past has been influenced by Czarist Russia, the WW II and 50 years of the Soviet occupation. With the help of modern multimedia, the Seaplane Harbour tells exciting stories about the Estonian maritime and military history promising a sea of excitement to the whole family.

The submarine Lembit is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in England in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the WWII under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the world still in use until it was hauled ashore last year. 

Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology. The submarine’s interior is fully restored providing museum visitors with an extraordinary opportunity to go on board and experience Lembit as it was in its heyday.

Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-WWII seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Tallinn Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the Short Type 184 aircraft in the world. 

The museum’s guests can also take a trip on the Seaplane Harbour’s simulators: to enjoy a flight above Tallinn, go on an around-the-world journey in the Yellow Submarine, or navigate on the Gulf of Tallinn.

The Seaplane Harbour’s main exhibits are displayed in hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the world’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s. The hangars have also served as a summer resort to the Estonian air force unit and as a closed military base to the Soviet Army. 

The construction of the Seaplane Harbour has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund’s programme for development of cultural and tourism objects of national importance.

Source: Estonian Review and museum page

Foreign Ministry web consul opened on Facebook

The Foreign Ministry’s “Foreign Ministry Web Consul” page was launched in Facebook today. On the page, officials from the Foreign Ministry’s consular department share information regarding travel and consular services and answer questions. In a crisis situation the page will be used to provide updates and advice.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that virtual environments allow the state to converse with its citizens more quickly and openly. “We want to bring our know-how to an environment where people are spending their time anyway. That way citizens can more quickly and easily get the exact information or advice they need,” said Foreign Minister Paet.

Director general of the Foreign Ministry consular department Rasmus Lumi said that Facebook, the most popular social networking site in Estonia, offers a good opportunity to communicate with people directly. “If needed, we will consider expanding the work of the web consul to other virtual environments as well,” said Lumi.

The Foreign Ministry has been active in social media for five years. The Foreign Ministry and Estonia’s foreign representations are active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The Foreign Ministry also has a collaborative blog. The use of social media has already paid off for the Foreign Ministry—for example, it has been utilised successfully during crisis situations. In April 2010, when an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano wreaked havoc on European flight traffic, the Foreign Ministry used social media to reach out to citizens caught in the “ash trap” and helped to arrange alternative transport for them.

Source: Estonian Review

Salaries increased by 5.9 pct last year

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2011, the average monthly gross wages and salaries were 839 euros and increased by 5.9% compared to the previous year. The real wages also increased after the two years’ decrease.

The real wages which took into account the influence of the change in the consumer price index and which shows the purchasing power of wages and salaries, increased 0.9% in 2011 compared to the previous year. In 2009 as well in 2010, the real wages decreased 4.9% and 1.8%, respectively.

In 2011, the average hourly gross wages and salaries were 5.04 euros and increased by 5.4% compared to the previous year.

In 2011, the average monthly and hourly gross wages and salaries increased the most in real estate activities, 11.4% and 13.3%, respectively. In 2010, the wages and salaries in this economic activity decreased the most and due to the low comparison basis in 2011 the increase was also the biggest.

Compared to 2010, the average monthly and hourly gross wages and salaries decreased only in other service activities, 4.8% and 7.9%, respectively.

In 2011, the employer’s average monthly labour costs per employee were 1,137euros and the average hourly labour costs were 7.55 euros. Compared to 2010, the average monthly labour costs per employee increased by 5.8% and the average hourly labour costs by 4.6%.

In 2011, the average monthly and hourly labour costs per employee increased the most in real estate activities, 11.2% and 12.0%, respectively.

Compared to 2010, the average monthly and hourly labour costs per employee decreased only in other service activities, 5.2% and 6.8%, respectively.

In 2011, the average monthly gross wages and salaries in public sector were 853 euros and in private sector 834 euros. Compared to 2010, the average monthly gross wages and salaries in public sector increased by 3.9% and in private sector by 6.8%. Public sector also includes companies owned by the state or local government.

Statistics Estonia conducts the survey of wages and salaries statistics on the basis of international methodology since 1992. In 2011, the sample included 11,277 enterprises, institutions and organisations. The average monthly gross wages and salaries have been given in full time units to enable a comparison of different wages and salaries, irrespective of the length of working time. Calculations of the monthly gross wages and salaries are based on payments for actually worked time and remuneration for time not worked. The hourly gross wages and salaries do not include remuneration for time not worked (holiday leave pay, benefits, etc.). In short term statistics, the average gross wages and salaries are measured as a component of labour costs. Labour costs include gross wages and salaries, employer’s contributions and employer’s imputed social contributions to employees.

Average monthly gross wages and salaries, 1st quarter 2008 – 1st quarter 2012 (euros)
  Year 1st quarter 2nd quarter 3rd quarter 4th quarter
2008 825 788 850 800 838
2009 784 776 813 752 783
2010 792 758 822 759 814
2011 839 792 857 809 865
2012   847      

Average monthly gross wages and salaries and monthly labour costs per employee, 2011

Diagram: Average monthly gross wages and salaries and monthly labour costs per employee, 2011
Average hourly gross wages and salaries and hourly labour costs, 2011

Diagram: Average hourly gross wages and salaries and hourly labour costs, 2011

Source: Statistics Estonia

Non-profit sector makes more R&D

Statistics Estonia said that in 2011 the non-profit sector spent nearly 142 million euros on research and development activity, 22% more than 2001. The expenditures of research and development activity financed by the state totalled 109 million euros. That indicator also grew 22%.

Expenditures of the higher education sector on research and development amounted to 107 million euros, up 21%. At the same time expenditures of the sector grew 27% to 31 million euros and expenditures of the non-profit private sector 21% to 3.5 million euros.

Source: Estonian Review