Redevelopment Of Train Station Area In Tallinn, Estonia Up For Tender

As recently reported on this blog, one of the up and coming areas of Tallinn is the area surrounding the train station, merging into the Kalamaja and Pelgulinn neighbourhoods.

Our faith in this seems to be bearing fruit; according to a recent report by Ott Tammik on the Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) English language site, the City of Tallinn is drafting the very terms and conditions for the tender of architectural plans that will make this long yearned-for development become a reality.

The project has been in the offing for some 11 years, and will replace the existing Balti Jaama Turg (Train Station Market). Not surprisingly the developments are not unopposed – one point of contention is the reassigning of Reisijate Street, currently closed to traffic and taken up by much of the marketplace itself, as a traffic street, and the existing Kopli Steet to become a four lane thoroughfare, the report stated.

Currently traffic is undoubtedly congested, particularly at rush hour, since Kopli Street is a one way street along the stretch that passes the train station. New developments would require better road access.

Other dissenting or at least questioning voices, as well as market traders, include national rail carrier Eesti Raudtee who wish to preserve some rail sidings and have space for additional platforms in future, according to the report.

Previous architectural plans had met with objections due to apartment developments blocking the view of Toompea, the seat of the Estonian government and the highest point of the old town.

As noted on this blog the area where Telliskivi Street crosses train tracks adjacent to the station is already something of a bohemian quarter, with two or three successful restaurants and various other businesses.

The original report is available here.

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Estonia’s Credit Rating Affirmed At A1 By Moody’s

Bond credit raters Moody’s Investor Services have affirmed Estonia’s A1 government bond rating and stable outlook.

As reported on this blog, Fitch had already upped Estonia’s rating to A+, so this is more good news.

The rating was based on factors including the Estonian government’s budgetary rigour and financial strength during the continuing crises of the 2008-10 downturn and the Eurozone (Estonia joined the Euro in January 2011) the low level of public debt, healthy banks and Estonia’s ability to withstand external shocks.

The rating could change over time of course, with both up- and downgrades possible. If Estonia had a long-term track record of steady growth (GDP has of course been growing since the downturn) and a strengthening and diversification of its economic base (recovery has largely been export driven) an upgrade might be on the cards, according to Moody’s.

Conversely, if an intensification of the Eurozone crisis had a negative impact on the public debt situation, or if foreign bank owners (the bulk of the successful banks in Estonia are Scandinavian owned) wavered on their commitments, which could have a similar effect, a downgrade could result.

In Any event, A1 it is! More information from Moody’s is here.

 

The principal methodology used in this rating was Sovereign Bond Ratings published in September 2008. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

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National Conservation Strategy Developed For Estonia

According to a recent report by Robin Ilves on the Estonian Public Broadcasting English language site, the Estonian government has announced plans for a nationwide scheme for nature conservation and protection.

The new plan, to be carried out by the Ministry of the Environment, appropriately enough, spans until 2020, the report said.

Estimated at a cost of 582.2 million Euros, the scheme aims to educate the public about nature conservation and the natural environment, including environmentally-friendly nature tourism, preservation work and financial incentives for creating conservation areas, the report continued.

Estonians value their natural environment; the country boasts several unspoilt national parks and vast areas of bog land hosting a plethora of species, as well as approximately half the country being covered by forest. As noted on this blog the quality of bathing water in freshwater rivers and lakes is amongst the best in Europe.

Thus it comes as no surprise that conservation would be on the agenda; even during the Soviet era there were environmental protests against the proposed strip mining of phosphorus (which thankfully never came to fruition).

However such efforts at conservation hitherto have largely been conducted on a regional or ad hoc basis – this is the first comprehensive national plan of its kind.

The original article is here.

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Many In Estonia Still Unaware Of Imminent Electricity Market Liberalisation

An article first published on this blog on 11th July, 2012.

As we previously blogged about, the electricity market in Estonia, hitherto having been a state monopoly, is due to be open to the market come January 2013, with all the pros and cons that this entails (our previous article lists some of these if you’re interested, or perhaps you already have a view one way or another!).

Nonetheless it seems many Estonians themselves don’t have a strong view on developments, or even worse than that, they’re not even aware it’s happening in the first place!

According to a report by Kristopher Rikken on the esteemed Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) site, over 20 per cent of people here are unaware of the prospective privatisation and many more believe there should be more info out there on this subject.

Speaking as a blogger who remembers the fanfare which surrounded the various privatisations of State energy (and other) enterprises under the Thatcher years in the UK, I find this surprising and a real missed opportunity on the part of those companies waiting in the wings to supply electricity to the Estonian people come next January (if in fact they are able to do anything at this stage).

Nevertheless this is the case. Mr Rikken derives his info from a TNS ENOR Poll (we were unable to track down the original poll but here is their Estonian site – TNS is global insight, information and consultancy group) which states that the exact figure of those who are completely unaware of the electricity market liberalisation is 21 per cent, according to the report.

The level of awareness amongst ‘lower income 25 to 34 year olds in small towns’ has risen according to the report, although only 17 per cent of all respondents correctly identified that the changes will affect the price component of their bills (probably adversely in that price increases are likely, although at least consumers are likely to be able to shop around for a better deal from competitors).

Another strange irony is that lack of awareness was particularly high in Ida-Virumaa, the very region of North Eastern Estonia where the bulk of the country’s electricity is generated (in oil-shale burning plants). Moreover ‘non-Estonians’ scored poorly in the awareness stakes, according to the report; this in practice is likely to mean Russian-speaking persons who again predominate in Ida-Virumaa, making up over 70 per cent of the population (and over 90 per cent in some individual towns). Evidently information has either not been provided adequately, or at least disseminated, in Russian.

Furthermore, Eesti Energia as already noted has been particularly helpful in providing information, in Estonian, Russian and English, on what privatisation will mean, presumably anxious to steal a march on its competitors before they enter the market (its Latvian equivalent, Latvenergo, is also poised to enter the market according to the ERR report).

There is still of course plenty of time, it is mid-July and the changeover doesn’t take place until January 2013. However it might be worthwhile for landlords and investors to make a note of the date now and put in place plans for possible savings on energy utilities if they are liable for them.

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Tallinn’s Two Transport Agencies To Be Merged

The two major public transport companies in Tallinn, Estonia, are to be merged, according to a report by Ott Tammik on the Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) English language site.

The Tallinn Bus Company (TAK) and the Tallinn Tram and Trolley company will be merged into one, making a saving of some 10 million Euros per year, according to the report.

This rationalisation will see a streamlining both in the transport routes themselves (with 47 of the 103 trolleybuses to be replaced by, presumably more reliable, buses) and also in administration, avoiding duplication in management, accounting, personnel and IT, according to the report. However, the number of trams will actually increase, with a fourth route being added (the trams system currently stretches East to West from Lasnamäe to Kopli, and from Kadriorg to Kopli, with an additional stretch southwards to Tondi).

The decision was announced by Deputy Mayor Arvo Sarapuu and comes just a few months after the referendum which decided the provision of free public transport to all registered Tallinn residents, starting in 2013.

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Estonian Finance Ministry Building In Tallinn To Be Demolished, Rebuilt

According to a report by Ott Tammik on the English language site of the Estonian Public Broadcasters (ERR) the building which houses the Estonian Finance Ministry is to be demolished and two new, identical towers are to be built in its stead.

The current building at Suur-Ameerika 1, which was constructed back in 1977 when Estonia was a constitutent republic of the former USSR, has been declared unfit for renovation (which was the original intention) according to the report.

The work is due to start some time in 2013 and whilst the new buildings, which will also house the Ministry of The Economy, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs from 2016, are to resemble the existing building externally, the interior will comprise modern, open plan offices rather than separate office rooms as is currently the case, according to the report.

This has not been met with unified approval, it would seem. The Estonian Architect’s Union called the building an architecturally valuable monument to its era and the decision to demolish it ‘strange’, the report stated.

Possible interim accomodation for the Finance Ministry during the period of construction could be the current Tax and Customs’ Board (EMTA) offices in various locations around Tallinn. EMTA is due to relocate to new premises in Ülemiste in the second half 2013.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier real estate service in Estonia, specialising in residential and commercial Tallinn real estate, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors in Estonia. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Estonian Zero Rate Corporate Tax On Retained Earnings Admired In Finland

According to a report by Kristopher Rikken on the English language site of the Estonian Public Broadcasting authority (ERR), certain aspects of Estonia’s corporate tax regime have impressed people on the other side of the Gulf of Finland.

In fact, Jyri Häkämies, Minister for Economic Affairs in Finland, stated in an interview with Turun Sanomat, a local newspaper in Turku in the West of Finland, that he would aim to bring the proposal of abolishing corporate tax on retained earrnings, as per the Estonian model, to the table at a cabinet meeting.

The argument in favour of such a move is that it would enourage companies to reinvest their profits rather than withdraw them.

Karl Stadigh, CEO of Sampo Bank in Finland, has gone a step further and said that cuts in taxes on some dividends should also be introduced, the report stated.

Dividends are taxed in Finland at a rate of 24.5 per cent.

Arguments against zero corporate taxation on retained earnings include the fact that companies have less incentive to withdraw funds in order to start new companies.

The original report is available here.

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Estonia Hosts Euro U19 Football Championships Starting Today

You could be forgiven for thinking that with Spain’s historic victory in the European Football Championships on Sunday, all those who dislike football could breathe a sigh of relief, for at least a month or so. However this is not the case – the under 19 European Championships are underway, and Estonia is hosting some of the games!

Starting today, 3rd July, matches are to be played in three Estonian towns – Tallinn, plus the seaside town of Haapsalu and also in Rakvere.

The tournament features eight countries, Estonia, Spain, England, Croatia, France, Greece, Portugal and Serbia, all of course countries whose full national teams took part in Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, with the exception of Estonia and Serbia.

Some of the facilities at Haapsalu had to be upgraded to meet international requirements, but all is in place, and Greece take on Spain in Haapsalu today, with England playing Croatia at the Kadriorg stadium, hosts Estonia taking on Portugal at the Lilleküla ground, also in Tallinn, and France playing Serbia in Rakvere.

Estonia won the contest to host the championships, which last until 15th July, back in 2010, seeing off eleven other countries in the process.

Estonia narrowly missed qualifications in the full blown Euro 2012 after losing in the playoffs to Ireland.

It remains to be seen whether Spain’s youngsters will add to that country’s bursting trophy cabinet!

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Tallinn Mayor States Orthodox Church Construction On Schedule

Controversial Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has announced that a Russian Orthodox Church in the Tallinn district of Lasnamäe will be completed in 2013 as per schedule, according to a report by Ingrid Teesalu on the English site of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).

Mr. Savisaar, 62, leader of the centre-left Keskerakond  (Centre) Party and Mayor of Tallinn since 2007 (he had previously held the post between 2001-2004) recently returned from a trip to Moscow, where he met with heads of the Andrei Pervozvannoi Fund, supporters of the Church’s construction, according to the report.

Mr. Savisaar stated that details surrounding the Church’s construction, including its bell tower (whilst being a new building, the Church is being constructed along traditional Orthodox architectural principles) had been discussed and that everything was on track. He declined to state the sum received from the Andrei Pervozvannoi Fund, but also claimed that private donations from within Estonia had been snowballing and that the Church would be a place that worshippers could be pleased with, the report stated.

Lasnamäe is a residential district, the most populous in Tallinn, to the east of the centre. It is the largest of the three later Soviet-era dormitory districts and was constructed through the course of the 1970s and ’80s. It has a majority Russian-speaking population; the new Church will join the existing Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea, which was completed in 1900.

Estonian daily newspaper Postimees had previously (in 2010) discovered that funds of around 1.5 million Euros had been received by Mr. Savisaar from Russian sources, earmarked for the Church’s construction.

The Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia falls under the Moscow Patriarchy and has around 150 000 adherents in Estonia as a whole; a far smaller Estonian Orthodox Church also exists.

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Estonian Foreign Minister Speaks On The Environment

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet recently made a speech in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, urging the necessity of wholesale changes in people’s lifestyles, according to a report by Kristopher Rikken on the Estonian Public Broadcasting English site.

After noting the importance of citizens living within their means, Mr. Paet, formally Estonian Defence Minister, set out Estonia’s contribution to this drive, which will include more environmenally- and socially-friendly initiatives. One concrete example  that Mr. Paet cited is the World Cleanup 2012 project, which aims to deal with 100 million tonnes of illegal waste in around 100 countries, and which has been inspired in part by the similar ‘Let’s Do It’ cleanup drive in Estonia, according to the report.

Mr. Paet stated that by the year 2030, 50 per cent more food and 45 per cent more energy will be amongst the advances need to be made to meet global demand, all at a time when CO2 emmissions have increased by 38 per cent over the last 20 years in addition to other environmental hazards such as overfishing and deforestation.

The original report can be viewed here.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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