Observer "Lietuva"

WEEK 20th

Saturday, 16th of May

Milk
Pieno Zvaigzdes, the leading Lithuania's dairy group, reported audited net earnings of LTL 9.209 million under Lithuanian Accounting Standards (LAS) for the full 2003. Earnings accounted pursuant to International Accounting Standards (IAS) made up LTL 10.7 million last year.
Respublika

EU funds will not be left unused
The Lithuanian Finance Ministry sent off the first five transport investment projects, worth an estimated EUR 149.43 million in total, to the European Commission on Friday to obtain financial assistance from the EU's Cohesion Fund.
If the projects are approved, the Cohesion Fund will contribute 85 percent of the project costs, that is, EUR 127.011 million. Lithuania will provide funding for the remaining 15 percent, or EUR 22.418 million, under the Road Maintenance and Development Program.
The biggest of the five projects is the upgrading of Transport Corridor IXB (the highway linking the capital of Vilnius to the port of Klaipeda). The estimated value of the project is EUR 54.111 million.
Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

We will be paying more for a soda
Increasing prices of sugar and sweeteners will boost prices of refreshing beverages.
Producers of refreshers and traders meet the summer season with the new products and are prepared for even fiercer competition. Producers of drinks which contain sweeteners will find it hard to compete because the price of their products is likely to grow because of increased sugar prices. On the other hand, some producers claim that traders will not allow producers to raise prices and they will have to compensate increased production expenses with a reduced product mark-up.
Eligijus Survila, the president of the National Beverage Producers’ Association, forecasts that beverage prices are likely to grow by 10 percent annually for several years in a row.
Relying on the data of AC Nielsen company, Coca Cola Bottlers Lietuva controls nearly 50 percent of the Lithuanian soda market, it is followed by _ven_ion_li_ Vaisvandeniai, Tarbaz and Pepsi Cola.
Lietuvos Zinios

Friday, 15th of May

Sanitas bought competitors
The biggest Lithuanian pharmaceutical company Sanitas has acquired a 39.96 percent stake in a Kaunas-based pharmaceutical company Endokrininiai Preparatai (Endocrine Preparations or EP) and is to take over the company’s management.
Sanitas has already addressed the Competition Council with a request to acquire up to 100 percent of EP shares.
The director general of Sanitas Donatas Jazukevicius does not rule out a possibility that the companies might be merged into one juridical entity in future. According to him, the decision to acquire Endokrininiai Preparatai is a very logical step. In the past, there were cases when the two Kaunas-based companies competed with each other in the foreign markets.
Jazukevicius believes that the joint management of the two companies will be more efficient and cheaper. It is planned to invest some LTL 10 million in Endokrininiai Preparatai. The investments will be used for equipment renovation, repair of premises and equipment of warehouses.
Lietuvos Rytas

Mandatory insurance brought insurers’ revenues down
The premiums written by Lithuanian non-life insurers shrank by LTL 19.4 million in the first quarter of the year compared to the relevant period last year. The market decline has been preconditioned by 54 percent cheaper mandatory motor civil liability insurance, prices of which were driven down by competition.
Insurers forecast that volumes of property, kasko and cargo insurance will grow in future.
The mandatory motor civil liability insurance brought LTL 30 million less premiums in the first quarter of the year compared to the relevant period last year (a 40 percent decline). Excluding this type of insurance, the non-life insurance market increased by 11 percent.
Verslo Zinios

A third of processors are European
Approximately 130 of 480 Lithuania's meat, milk and fish producers have secured compliance with the European Union (EU) standards upon the country's accession to the bloc. Another 40 companies expect to meet the requirements by 2007.
A total of 49 meat processing companies and slaughter houses had been assigned veterinary codes and might market their products in the EU. Another 130 companies might market their products only in Lithuania, while 30 companies had secured a transitional period to implement the EU requirements.
A total of 8 Lithuania's poultry farms had been allowed to market their output in the EU. In the fish processing sector, 42 companies had obtained permits for the marketing of products in the EU countries, while another four companies expected to reach the common European market after a transitional period.
Dairy products in the EU may be marketed by 31 Lithuanian dairy products, while another five dairy companies have been granted transitional periods.
Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios

Thursday, 13th of May

380,000 residents submitted tax declarations to STI
About 380,000 residents of Lithuania have submitted income declarations for the year 2003 to the State Tax Inspectorate (STI) by the deadline of May 3, Loreta Latviene, the tax inspectorate chief, reported on Wednesday.
The chief tax officer also revealed that 110,000 companies and residents brought declarations of payments made to working residents and taxes deducted from them.
This year Lithuania has organised its first nationwide income declaration for the population, which is why the State Tax Inspectorate in parallel conducted the education of tax payers that included information publications, seminars and advice.
The income declaration was compulsory for public officials and politicians, residents running sole proprietorships, farmers and some other population groups. The residents who sought to recover part of paid taxes also submitted their declarations. In drafting the national budget for 2004, the government earmarked up to LTL 75 million to refunding overpaid tax sums.
Kauno Diena

Lithuania offers lowest business expenses
Lithuania offers the lowest business expenses to companies among ten new European Union’s members. According to the latest research, Lithuania is followed by Latvia, Slovakia and Malta.
The biggest business expenses are in Slovenia and Poland.
The business cost survey in the new EU countries ordered by the logistics giant DHL covered all the goods categories, including hotels, taxi tariffs, dinner prices and communications tariffs.
The research has been carried out by the international research company Independent Research Bureau.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Trade deficit increased
Lithuanian exports rose by 8.5 percent in the first three months of 2004, compared with the first quarter of 2003, while imports surged by 11.3 percent, the country's Statistics Department has announced.
The preliminary data, based on customs declarations, showed that Lithuania's first-quarter exports hit LTL 5.701 billion, while imports totalled LTL 7.465 billion in the January-to-March period of the year.
The country's foreign trade deficit widened by 21.5 percent, year-on-year, to LTL 1.764 billion in the first three months of 2004.
The trade tendencies are changing, as last year export increased at a more rapid pace than import.
Verslo Zinios

Wednesday, 12th of May

Path of Lithuania’s electricity – by sea
Lithuanian electricity will reach Scandinavia next year already. The board of Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) has already ratified an investment project of laying down an electricity transmission cable from Estonia to Finland. The project’s value stands at LTL 75.96 million.
Lietuvos Energija will become a co-partner of the project and will control 20 percent of shares of the electricity transmission system. It is planned to sign cooperation documents this month.
Lithuania will export 560 million kWh of electricity by the underwater cable that will be laid on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Lietuvos Energija plans to receive dividends from the project Northern Energy Bridge in 2010-2011.
Lietuvos Rytas

Competition in the banking sector
Hansabankas, the leading bank in the Lithuanian retail banking market, will recommend companies building high quality apartments in good places for those who want to take housing loans.
Other biggest banks also claim that they cooperate with construction companies but they do not provide any standardised offers.
The partners of Hansabankas are Ranga IV, Progresyvios Investicijos, Atkirta, Veikme, Berzole, Pusu Aleja and Agrekas. They plan to sell nearly 1.5 thousand apartments in 2004.
Presumably, some 5.4 thousand new apartments will be built in Lithuania this year.
Vilniaus Bankas, the main competitor of Hansabankas, claims that it cooperates with more than 10 construction companies and provides information about them to the clients.
Relying on Hansabankas’ sources, the housing loan market in Lithuania increased by 14.8 percent in Lithuania this year and amounted to LTL 2.053 billion.
Lietuvos Rytas

Prices of consumption goods will rise due to more expensive fuel
As the global oil prices are increasing, fuel is growing more expensive in Lithuanian gas stations. The price of petrol has increased by 6 cents this week, while the price of diesel fuel has increased by 2 cents.
The market analysts claim that the growth of fuel prices will affect the growth of prices of consumption goods in the long run.
Vadimas Titarenko, head of the Economic Research Department of Nord/LB Lietuva, says the price increase should be expected, however, he remarks that the reduced import customs duties might be a factor that will reduce the price increase.
Giedrius Karsokas, a representative of the Lithuanian oil refinery Mazeikiu Nafta, says the main reason of fuel price growth is the lack of oil products in the United States and Europe; fuel price growth is also affected by the war in Iraq.
Respublika

Tuesday, 11th of May

Inflation surpassed prognoses twofold in April
Amid a rise in prices of clothing and footwear, foodstuffs, soft drinks, transport and healthcare services, consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in Lithuania in April, surpassing the expectations of analysts who forecast an inflation of mere 0.2 percent.
Consumer prices rose in two of four months of this year. In January consumer prices stood flat, while in February the deflation rate hit 0.2 percent. In March, however, the consumer price index (CPI) grew by 0.5 percent, Lithuania's Statistics Department reminded.
Compared with April 2003, consumer prices in Lithuania declined by 0.6 percent last month.
According to the country's Statistics Department, the prices of consumer goods rose by 0.5 percent, while the tariffs of consumer services edged higher by 0.1 percent in April, compared with March.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Kauno Diena

Lithuanian poultry for European Union
The largest Lithuania's poultry farms have already obtained permits for the exports of their output to the markets of the European Union (EU).
Respective permits have been granted to the poultry farms in Kaisiadorys and Vilnius, the Girele poultry farm, the poultry slaughter house Nematekas, poultry processor Romega and the turkey producer Arvi Kalakutai, Darius Remeika, deputy director of State Food and Veterinary Authority, reported.
By early April, a total of 80 Lithuania's companies had obtained the right to export their produce to the EU, including 20 dairy companies, 17 fish processors, 19 meat processing companies, 1 offal processing company, 4 snail processors, 1 game processor, 1 egg producer and 17 ships.
Respublika, Lietuvos Zinios, Verslo Zinios, Lietuvos Rytas

Klaipedos Nafta purchased debt of oil terminal
The Lithuanian oil product terminal operator Klaipedos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil) has bought the right to claim Naftos Terminalas' (Oil Terminal) frozen deposit at the former Soviet bank Vneshekonombank for LTL 100,000.
"As a result of direct negotiations, an agreement was reached that Klaipedos Nafta should acquire the right to claim Naftos Terminalas' deposit worth USD 95.266 million," Evaldas Bivilis, chairman of Klaipedos Nafta's management board, said. He added that Klaipedos Nafta would try to recover the debt but whether it will succeed or not will depend on the political situation in Russia.
Bivilis said the LTL 100,000 and other money in Naftos Terminalas' account, amounting to over LTL 2 million, is currently being paid out to the company's shareholders in proportion to their existing holdings.
The deposit at Vneshekonombank was the only obstacle to wrapping up the liquidation of Naftos Terminalas, which has ceased all activities.
Verslo Zinios, Respublika, Lietuvos Rytas

Monday, 10th of May

Unemployment rate is shrinking, even though slowly
7.5 percent of employable people were registered as unemployed in the Lithuanian labour exchanges as of May 1, i.e. 0.4 points less than a month ago. Seasonal fluctuation has had the biggest effect on the unemployment rate: in spring, demand for labour grows. However, specialists also stress permanent tendencies of improvement of the unemployment rate.
Relying on the data of the Lithuanian labour exchanges, there were 154,800 registered unemployed in Lithuania as of May 1, 9,400 less than a month ago and 2,200 less than a year ago.
Representatives of the Statistics Department and the Free Market Institute forecast that the unemployment rate is to shrink in Lithuania.
Verslo Zinios

Abakas will be restoring data in the Baltic countries
An IT and consultation company Abakas has signed partnership agreements with the Estonian and Latvian IT companies. Kaunas-based company has become an exclusive partner of the US data restoration company Ontrack in the Baltic countries and Kaliningrad enclave.
Abakas has signed cooperation agreements with the Estonian company ML Arvutid, also known as the producer of Microlink brand computers, and Ordi, one of the largest Estonian computer manufacturers, and the Latvian company ELKO-Vecriga.
Laimutis Runkevicius, a representative of Ontrack for the Baltic countries, claims that professional data restoration services will be very useful for business and home users as well as state institutions. He says the company can fulfill 76 percent of the orders successfully and hopes that the software restoration coefficient will grow to 91 percent.
Verslo Zinios

Polish bank might withdraw from Lithuania
The Finnish Nordea might take over the Lithuanian branch of the Polish bank Kredyt Bank, which has been operating detrimentally in Lithuania so far. If the deal does not take place, the Polish bank’s branch will be closed down or reorganised.
In July 2003, Kredyt Bank announced that it is selling its business in Lithuania. According to the representatives of Kredyt Bank, the new owner of Vilnius branch should have been clear by the end of the last year, however, now it is believed that the branch might be sold this autumn.
Representatives of Kredyt Bank and Nordea did not comment on the possible deal but did not deny this information, either.
Hansabankas, Nord/LB Lietuva, Parex and Nordea banks expressed interest in the Vilnius branch of Kredyt Bank last year. This year, all the banks with the exception of Nordea confirmed that they are not interested in Kredyt Bank anymore.
Lietuvos Zinios

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