Friday, May 30, 2008

Edusammudest prositutsiooni-vastasel mõttevahetuses

Kui veel aasta tagasi proovisid sotsiaalministeeriumi ametnikud võidelda prostitutsiooni legaalsuse vastu tavapäraste "prostitutsioon tuleb keelustada, sest prosituute vägistatakse ja kasutatakse ära" argumentidega, siis viimasel ajal olen täheldanud positiivset nihet prostitutsiooniga tegelevate inimeste argumentatsioonis.
Hiljuti ilmus Päevalehes kaks artiklit, kus prostitutsiooniteemat lahati.
Esimeses kirjutas Imre Rammul, et valdkonna peamiseks varjuküljeks on inimkaubandus ja lahenduseks pakkus laiemat diskussiooni ühiskonnas, mis prostitutsiooni hukka mõistaks: "alustuseks on vaja suuremat arutelu, mitte pimesi keelamist."
Teises artiklis rõhutas Iris Pettai, et tegeleda tuleks pigem prostitutsiooni algpõhjustega:
Eestis unustatakse ära või ei taheta teada, et nende tüdrukute elus, kes valivad prostitutsiooni “vabatahtlikult”, on varem tavaliselt olnud suuremaid ja väiksemaid õnnetusi, mida kinnitavad ka uuringutulemused. Ligikaudu pooled tüdrukud on lapsena olnud pedofiilia või intsesti ohvrid, kinnitasid esindusliku Eesti seksitöötajate uuringu tulemused 2005. aastal. Kolmandik lapsprostituutidest on pärit lastekodudest, selgus samast. Lisame siia nimistusse perevägivalla, alkohoolikutest vanemad, koolikiusamise jm tegurid, mida ühiskond pole märganud ega nendele noortele appi tulnud.
Siiski ei ole ma nõus, et nende teemadega tuleks hakata võitlema selleks, et vähendada prostitutsiooni. Pedofiilia, intsest, perevägivald ja koolikiusamine pole aspektid, mis viivad prostitutsioonini. Pedofiilia, intsest, perevägivald ja koolikiusamine on iseseisvad ühiskondlikud pahed, mille vastu tuleb võidelda. Erinevalt prostitutsioonist ei saa nende kohta tuua ühtki filosoofilist õigustust nagu prostitutsiooni kohta, et tegemist on täiskasvanute vahel vabal tahtel põhineval tehingul.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tartu beware - Jüri Liim is after occupiers monuments!

Although i am not very supportive of Jüri Liim style nationalism, i think his hands-on approach to his fight against anything reminding communism is kinda cool. Last week he rented a movable crane and took down two Soviet-time monuments which he found insulting for independent Estonia (read here and here). As expected, the Russian media quickly rushed to condemn the removal of "two statues of Soviet World War II heroes". Considering that one of the two statues was for Hans Pöögelmann, who was killed by Stalin's order in 1938, it seems that for Russian media WWII is a very general and flexible term indeed.
However, i think Tartu should watch out now. So why should Liim stop at removing Soviet-time monuments from University back-yards, when Tartu displays former occupiers in the very center of the city. Firstly, there is the statue of Swedish conquerer Gustav II Adolf right behind the main university building. Swedes occupied most of the Estonia for most of the 16th and 17th century. More notably, there is the statue of Russian military chief Barclay de Tolly with a nice small park. Definitely these two guys were more responsible for the Swedish and Russian occupation than bunch of school-children participating (and dying) in WWII to whom the other of the removed monuments was erected. So if you see Liim renting a crane again, you should warn the Tartu city government.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tallinn lost 400 million EEK in a court case

There were some discussion a little while ago that Tallinn plans to borrow 1 billion kroons (ca. €64m) without even having specific plans what to do with the money. Well, today Baltic Business News reports that:
in March the Supreme Court ruled that the City of Tallinn must revise 125 cases concerning former property of so-called Umsiedlers who owned property in Tallinn before World War II, but left it behind when they went to live in Germany. In all these 125 cases the City decided that the pre-war owner had no right to claim the property or compensation.
Most of the property in question is apartments and houses in attractive areas, mainly in central Tallinn or even Tallinn Old Town.
The issue is very contraversial, and i probably tend to side with the Tallinn City in this argument. But this is a longer story.
What is currently more interesting, however, is that the 125 cases may easily amount to some 10 000 m2 of prime real estate, which could be valued at some 400 million EEK (€26m) in total. Well that is quite an expense for the capital city (ca. 7% of 2008 budget) and quite an outflow of funds from Estonia. That is also more than half of the amount Estonia had to pay as the infamous "sugar fine".

Monday, May 26, 2008

Läti haldusreform

Vähemalt haldusreformi läbiviimise kohapealt paistavad lätlased meist ees olevat. Nimelt kirjutab ETV24, et Läti plaanib 500 omavalitsuse asemel moodustada 103 novadsit ja 9 vabariikliku linna. Kaotatakse ka senised 26 rajooni. Projekti sujuvamaks läbiviimiseks antakse igale "vabatahtlikult" ühinevale omavalitsusele riigi eelarvest 4,5 miljonit krooni toetust. Ehk peaks meilgi kaaluma altkäemaksuga omavalitsusi efektiivsemaks meelitada.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lithuanian Commercial Register

I have recently tried to gather information about some Lihtuanian companies. As in Estonia and Latvia companies have to submit their full annual financial reports to local commercial register and these reports and ownership data are readily available, i was quite surprised that the Lithuanian commercial register only has the balance sheet, profit and loss statement and cash flow statement of each company. Also, i was unable to get any ownership data for most of the companies.
What more, as i was explained by a helpful employee of the company, such data is not available online so i had to send an e-mail about the companies i was interested in, then i was invoiced 1.45 EUR per page for the reports and then they mailed them to me by usual mail (it took a week to arrive). Well, it was nice that each of the copy had a stamp of the register, stamp "Kopija tikra" and a stamp with the name of the employee + handwritten date and signature (on every single page!) but that was not really what i needed.
In Estonia at least all the annual reports are scanned and posted on the register web-page and other information (including about management and owners) is available in standardized forms. However, as 1-2 euros is charged for downloading each report, you still have to sign some kind of contract and somehow transfer the funds to the register. So it might be a bit troublesome for a foreigner.
That made me think - are the 2 euros really worth it? Maybe it would be easier to make the companies to submit their reports electronically and make them automatically available for anyone interested free of charge. After all, it should be in the general interests of the state to provide transparent information about local businesses to potential foreign investors and counterparties in trade. (unless you believe that it is the government's role to protect our economy from the negative effects of international business and especially from all those foreigners buying up our companies).
But first of all, the Lithuanians should really reform their services in the commercial register and demand a little more thorough reporting from their companies. A helpful, active young lady (she sent one e-mail to me on Sunday evening) with good english and nice hand-writing is just not enough.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Päeva lause

"No kuulge, mis tähendab – meeldib avalik haldus? Eestlasele ei saa meeldida olla bürokraat."
Juhan Parts Eesti noorte rumalusest haridustee valikul. HEI nr. 2- 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Riigikogu palgavaidlus riivab minu õiglustunnet!

Minu arvates on Riigikogulaste aja viitmine selle peale, kes ja kuidas määrab Riigikogulaste palga, ajaraiskamine. Veel suurem ajaraiskamine on see, kui mingid targad inimesed hakkavad igal aastal või iga nelja aasta tagant oma aega kulutama sellele, et arutada ja vaagida riigikoguliikmete uut palka. Lõppude lõpuks on ju 5 000 krooni kuus siia või sinnapoole kuupalga muutust kuus ainult ca. 8 miljonit krooni aastas kogu Riigikogu peale. See on üsna tühiasi võrreldes 3,1 miljardiga, mille võrra vähendatakse lisa-eelarvega selle aasta eelarve kulusid.
Minu õiglustunnet riivab, et riigikogulased tegelevad nii mõttetu teemaga, aga ma olen oma riivatuses vist üsna üksi...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Estonian GDP growth - OMG!

That was much worse than i expected:
According to Statistics Estonia, by flash estimations gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 0.4% in Estonia in the 1st quarter of 2008 compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted GDP at constant prices decreased by 1.9% in the 1st quarter of 2008 compared to the 4th quarter.
That is pretty hard landing. Quite on the level with Latvia and the worst quarter for at least 12 years (the worst quarter we saw during 1998 economic crisis was -1,0%).

Magnumil ei lubatud osta Saku Apteeki

Äripäev teatab:
Konkurentsiamet otsustas 8. mail keelata aktsiaseltsi Magnum kontserni kuuluva tütarettevõtja Terve Pere Apteek OÜ ja OÜ Saku Apteek koondumise.
Minu teada on see üks esimesi koondumisekeelde Eestis üldse. Siiani on Konkurentsiamet tegelenud peamiselt ikka lihtsalt dokumentide kogumise ja kontrollimisega. Kui eelmise nädala liigutus märgib Konkurentsiameti otsust hakata mängima mingit olulisemat rolli Eesti majanduses, siis on see ainult tervitatav.
Kuna ei tea antud otsuse tausta, ei oska ka täpsemalt kommenteerida. Kui Sakus on praegu mitu erinevat apteeki ja pärast tehingut oleks jäänud ainult üks, on otsus kindlasti põhjendatud. Pressiteatest (ja kes meil siis pressiteates sisulisi asju räägib) räägitakse küll pigem Tallinna ja lähiümbruse turust. Kui koondumise keelamise põhjus oli argumenteeritud sellega, et Saku apteegi ostmine vähendaks apteekide konkurentsi Tallinnas, siis see tundub natuke kauge põhjendus. Vaevalt, et hakkaksin selle pärast Sakusse sõitma, et seal rohud paar krooni odavamad. Aga mina pole ka kindlasti apteekide põhiklientuur.
Huvitav on ka veel see, et apteekide turg on riiklikult üsna reguleeritud just nimelt konkurentsi vastu. Apteekide litsentside arv on piiratud, kuigi nende tahtjaid palju. Kusjuures litsentside vähesuses pole määravaks teguriks mitte apteekide suutmatus nõuetele vastata, vaid lihtsalt riiklik otsus apteekide arvu vähendada. Kas poleks lihtsam tihedamat konkurentsi tagada vabama litsentside jagamisega, kui Konkurentsiametipoolsete ettekirjutustega?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Latvia is landing hard!

Yesterday, Latvia reported its flash estimate of GDP growth:
In accordance with flash estimate published the CSB, which is based on currently available statistical data and econometric models, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 3.6%, compared to first quarter of 2007.
3.6% is a pretty scary figure considering that it includes the high growth 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2007.
As Latvia does not reporte seasonally adjusted figures, those interested in quarterly changes are left to do their own calculations. According to my calculations Q1 2008 saw a 4,2% (non-seasonally-adjusted) quarterly contraction in economic activity. On average from 1996 to 2007, the first quarter in Latvia had 2,1% slower growth than the average quarterly growth. So as 2,1% - 4,2% = -2,1 so i believe that

in Q1 2008 Latvian economy contracted 2,1%

That is definitely hard landing! I mean this is quarterly contraction, not annual. USA for example likes to report quarterly GDP figures in annualised rates. That would be 8,4% for Latvia now!
Okay, that figure should be taken with a pinch of salt. Firstly, my calculations are not exactly proper statistical seasonality analysis. Nor did i correct for any changes in working days. Latvian Abroad blogger reaches for a little softer 1,9% economic contraction, but these were also back-of-the-envelope calculations.
Secondly, this is just the first estimate and during periods of quick change, these estimates can be off by a wide margin.
Thirdly, some people believe that q-o-q growth rates in such a small economy as Latvia is nonsense anyway - the effects of large transactions can strongly influence the figures and the statistical adjustments can be really irrelevant as there is less seasonality and more one-time fluctuations.
For those interested in the developments, i suggest to follow the Baltic Economy Watch and Latvian Abroad blogs for best available up to date economic analysis of the country. The updated figures for Latvian GDP will be published on June 9th. Estonian flash estimate of GDP growth will come on May 14th.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Danske new forecasts for the Baltics

Today, Danske Bank has issued new macroeconomic forecasts for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Shortly, Danske predicts 2,5% GDP growth for Estonia for 2008 and 3% for 2009. They also estimate that currently the long term trend growth rate for Estonia should be around 3-4% due to high imbalances in the economy. For Latvia, Danske has even gloomier picture with 2-3% GDP growth for this year and 2% in 2009.
Lithuania is expected to grow 5% in 2008 and 4% in 2009. To me it seems that the main reason for higher forecasts for Lithuania is that the slowdown started later there, so the forecasts might come down as they have for Estonia and Lithuania. 5% seems especially optimistic after the -0,2% growth in Q1 of 2008.

One interesting graph i found was the share of private consumption in GDP:



I never thought that the private consumption is that much smaller in Estonia than in neighbouring countries and that it has been actually falling during last 5 years (which is quite different from the other Baltic States). If it is really so, that should mean that less money has spent on pointless TV-sets and restaurant bills in Estonia and more has been invested...
But this is just one piece of the whole picture and i really don't know what to think about it yet. Just interesting...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tänased uudised

Üha enam uudiseid saan ma blogosfääri vahendusel. Ja selgub, et pikkade pühade ajal on nii mõndagi juhtunud:
Leiboristid said näiteks UK kohalikel valimistel kolmanda koha. Päris halb tulemus valitsevale parteile "kahepartei" süsteemis. Ja Livingstone jäi Londoni linnapea kohast ilma. Selleks saab nüüd Boris Johnson.
Lätlased jälle on mures oma salatite pesemise pärast.
Aga enamus uudiseid ja blogisid veel lugemata, niiet sealt leiab kindlasti veelgi huvitavat.