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Estonian report Estonian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-20 08:41:17
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Bigger EU rescue fund possible, not ideal-Estonia

An expansion of the European Union's bailout fund is still a possibility but is not necessary at the moment, Estonia's finance minister said on Wednesday. European finance ministers discussed beefing up the euro zone's rescue fund on Tuesday but reached no conclusion and Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said afterwards that the idea of actually enlarging the fund had been rejected. Markets want to see more money available for the fund because they estimate the current amount would not be sufficient if both Portugal and Spain applied for emergency financing.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, is resistant to the idea. Discussion has centred on making the fund's lending capacity larger -- since not all of the funds can be lent due to the desire to keep its triple-A credit rating. "(An expansion) is not off the table because there are countries that support it. The International Monetary Fund supports it," Estonia's Jurgen Ligi said on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna organised by Euro money magazine.

"The priority should be homework, and until countries have presented convincing programmes," he said. "There is no need to increase the capital -- if the countries can get their debt under control." He said the best scenario would be for no expansion because "new loans are not the way out of debt". Estonia is the newest member of the euro zone and joined it on Jan. 1.

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Ansip: don't blame the euro for price hikes


Price increase in Estonia was not brought by the changeover to the euro, but started several months ago, Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said in national radio on Tuesday. “Prices of dairy products started growing already a half a year ago. And not just in Estonia but at our neighbours’ Latvia and Lithuania who do not have euro yet,” Ansip said.

Ansip said that last year, Estonia’s price level reached 80% of EU average while in Finland that indicator was 120%. “In the last months of last year fast price increase could be noted but that was compared to the deflation period when prices fell,” Ansip said.

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Estonian electrical grid is getting less reliable

There were 2.3 power outages per one household in Estonia in 2010 and thus the amount of power outages caused by malfunctions exceeds the EU average by far, LETA/Postimees reports. The amount of power outages has not decreased over the years. Eesti Energia Jaotusvõrk (Eesti Energia Distribution Grid) does not keep it a secret that the reliability of the power grid has only deteriorated. There are places in Estonia like Voose village in Anija parish, Harjumaa, where the electrical malfunctions rate is several times higher than the Estonian average.
 
Eesti Energia Jaotusvõrk manager Tarmo Mere said that in order to stop the ageing of distribution grids, at least 95.9 million EUR a year should be invested, Just once, in the 2008/2009 business year, the company managed to invest around 102.3 mln EUR, while the investment has been much smaller earlier and later.
 
Mere said that the reason for the large amount of malfunctions is that at the end of 1980s and in 1990s, electrical grids were not renewed almost at all. Jaotusvõrk now channels all of its net profits to raising the reliability of the grids. Jaotusvõrk has at present 60,000 km of electrical lines and 21,000 substations. “If we managed to renew every year 2.5% of the power grid, the current reliability of the grid would be preserved,” Mere said. “Actually we can renew around 1.6% and thus the reliability of the electrical grid is weakening.”


        
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