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LONG READ: The oligarch problem
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Russian opposition activist Navalny calls for supporters to take to the streets this weekend
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Private finance mobilised by development banks up 9% to $175bn in 2019
VISEGRAD BLOG: Central Europe's populists need a new strategy for Biden
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
EBRD says loan to Estonia’s controversial Porto Franco project was never disbursed
Czech Pirates and Mayors approve final coalition agreement for 2021 elections
OUTLOOK 2021 Czechia
Hungarian vehicle makers hit by supply chain shortage
COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
OUTLOOK 2021 Poland
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
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BALKAN BLOG: US approach to switch from quick-fix dealmaking to experience and cooperation
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BALKAN BLOG: The controversial recipe for building up Albania
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Heavy flooding causes chaos in parts of Southeast Europe
Spring lockdown caused spike in online transactions in Croatia
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OUTLOOK 2021 Moldova
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Montenegrins say state administration is most corrupt institution
North Macedonia plans to cut personal income tax in IT sector to zero in 2023
OUTLOOK 2021 Romania
Romania’s central bank cuts monetary policy rate by 25bp to 1.25%
Romanian construction companies' activity slows in November after intense 2020
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovenia
Slovenia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against Jansa cabinet
Slovenia’s government to release funds to news agency STA after EU pressure
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ISTANBUL BLOG: Biden must find a way to work with Trump’s strongman pal Erdogan
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CAUCASUS BLOG : What can Biden offer the Caucasus and Stans, all but forgotten about by Trump?
Armenia ‘to extend life of its 1970s Metsamor nuclear power plant after 2026’
OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
COMMENT: Record high debt levels will slow post-coronavirus recovery, threaten some countries' financial stability, says IIF
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
No US move to rejoin Iran nuclear deal imminent say Biden national security nominees
TEHRAN BLOG: Will Biden bet on a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal?
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OUTLOOK 2021 Tajikistan
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
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Estonia’s National Audit Office (Riigikontroll) unveiled on December 3 the results of an audit tasked with looking into how a billion euros of COVID-19 relief in extraordinary loans and guarantees were allocated during the coronavirus pandemic.
The audit authority claims that state agency KredEx's criteria and objectives in allocating COVID-19 relief loans and guarantees during the coronavirus pandemic have been opaque.
Auditor general Janar Holm noted that large sums of money and a lack of clear direction were a recipe for problems.
In its overview, the audit office found that as the KredEx loans that followed the supplementary state budget set up in response to the first wave of the pandemic were vague in their intentions, further distribution of loans and guarantees will need significantly clearer rules to ensure equal treatment of target group enterprises, and the best use of public money.
Among its criticisms, the audit office said it remains unclear how businesses get ministerial approval for loan applications, which sometimes happened even before the company submitted a KredEx application.
For instance, the government approved shipping line Tallink's €100mn loan (Tallink had initially sought €150mn) the day after the terms and conditions of the KredEx measure entered into force, i.e. before it was actually implemented.
In the Tallink case, the company should have needed more time to consider its proposals, even by KredExes' own guidelines, the office found.
A €39.4mn loan given to a part-completed real estate project in Tallinn's harbor area, known as the Porto Franco development, was in KredExes' own eyes a reputational risk.
The deal was criticised since Porto Franco is an unfinished construction project; the coronavirus state aid was in principle supposed to go to existing businesses that could prove they had been hit hard, directly as a result of the pandemic and related regulations.
Even after the Porto Franco loan was approved, other potential applicants from the real estate field found terms restricting what could and couldn't be eligible, the audit office says.
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