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Saturday 23.09.2017 | Name days: Vanda, Veneranda, Venija
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BNN summary of the week: BATL against oligarchs, Latvian president under fire

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Truth; Business; Future and Growth.

CHANGE: Tax avoiders may have to pay for health insurance next year

For residents who do not pay social insurance fees, health insurance fees could be 1% of minimal wage, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Caksa during a meeting of National Council for Trilateral Cooperation on Thursday, 24 August.

It is planned to increase fees to 3% of minimal monthly wage amount and 5% in 2020. Next year, minimal wage in Latvia is planned to be EUR 430. With that, fees are expected to reach EUR 4.30 a month. After two years, this amount will be EUR 21.5 a month, as long as minimal wage is not increased.

As noted in Healthcare Ministry’s developed healthcare funding legislative draft, an insured person is someone who has paid health insurance fees for no less than nine months in a 12-month period.

Full healthcare service amount will be provided to state insured individuals, including children, pensioners, orphans, unemployed and other persons.

Full article here

BUSINESS: grey economy’s presence in fishing industry may be 40%

The total proportion of grey economy in Latvia’s fishing industry may be around 40%, says fish processing company Brivais vilnis chairman Arnolds Babris.

«I think its [grey economy] presence in the fishing industry is roughly the same as it is in the country – around 40%,» said Babris.

He admits there are companies in the industry who do not pay taxes in the full amount. Unfortunately, the process of pushing such businesses from the industry is not going anywhere. Tax avoidance provides businesses with greater advantages to reduce self-cost, rather than improvement of efficiency. It is the duty of state institutions to prevent that, but there has not been a great amount of activity so far.

Babris believes grey economy in the fishing industry may decline only if the government decided to increase non-taxable minimum to EUR 500 instead of raising minimal wages, because it would increase production costs and producers would be forced to raise prices.

Full article here

FIGHT: oligarchs’ established system has to be changed immediately

We have major problems with the established democratic system. This has to be discussed. What are the improvements that we need to prevent a repetition of such a situation, said Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics president Inga Antane when asked about people’s protests at Town Hall Square in her interview to TV24.

Antane said in her interview: «One thing is protesting, and revolutionary ideas have always been with good intentions. But where are the proposals we would need to discontinue this system? Who’s to say the system will not create new oligarchs? The system needs to be changed.»

The expert also mentioned that during 11th Saeima’s era, when the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry was managed by Edmunds Spruds and Antane was his advisor, five initiatives had been launched to improve state administration and prevent the distortions present in the system now.

«At the time we proposed a legislative draft regarding deputies under criminal prosecution. Where is it now? It no longer exists. We prepared and submitted a legislative draft on municipal referendums that would have allowed residents to affect the work performed by municipal governments. Where is it now? It no longer exists. We prepared a legislative draft on reducing the number of deputies in municipal administrations,» Antane comments.

Full article here

DECLINE: businessmen will be forced to pay larger wages

The current market situation shows that Latvia should speed up its education reform and think about attracting additional human resources from other countries, said Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

«We have a number of problems. We see unemployment is in decline, dropping to 7.2% in the past three years, whereas the number of employed people remains unchanged. It is a red light for national economy,» explains the minister.

She emphasizes that tax reform alone is not enough to guarantee economic development. Other solutions are needed as well, including qualified labour force. «We hear this more and more often from businessmen,» she added.

Full article here

TRUTH: criticism of president Vejonis causes loud applause

The New Conservative Party’s organized people’s gathering at Town Hall Square this Wednesday, 23 August, gathered more than 400 people. JKP representatives said that people should gather for such meetings every month, because this is how democratic society is formed.

At the beginning of the event, participants sang Latvia’s national anthem. After that, JKP leader Janis Bordans took the stage. He emphasized that the situation currently present in the country – when everything is decided by a small group of people through their mutual agreements – cannot be allowed to continue.

The politician invited participants to act and take responsibility for their own homes and the country in general.

Participants of the gathering armed themselves with posters, which were handed out to them by organizers. Aside from usual slogans inviting others to respect the laws, posters also featured slogans like «don’t feed oligarchs».

There were many old people as well. Representatives of the party also invited younger people to be more active in the political life of their country.

Most of what politicians and culture sector representatives said on stage was focused on condemnation of oligarchs and the ruling government’s inability to set things right in the country. A lot of criticism was voiced towards Latvia’s President Raimonds Vejonis. Participants of the gathering welcomed the voiced criticisms with applause.

Full article here

GROWTH: Producer prices in industry in Latvia grew 0.4% in July

Compared to June, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.4 % in July 2017. The prices of products sold on the domestic market increased by 0.5 %, whereas the prices of exported products grew by 0.3 %.

The prices of products exported to euro area countries rose by 0.5 % and of products exported to non-euro area countries – by 0.1 %, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

During the month, changes in producer prices were mainly affected by a price increase in the manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture, as well as in the manufacture of food products. A lowering effect on the prices could be observed in the manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment, in distribution of electricity, as well as in steam and air conditioning supply.

Compared to July 2016, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 3.6 % in July 2017. The prices of products sold on the domestic market increased by 3.9 %, while those of exported products grew by 3.4 %. The prices of products exported to euro area countries rose by 4.4 % and of products exported to non-euro area countries – by 2.7 %.

Full article here

FUTURE: following VAT decline, prices of goods will decline as well

Latvian Association of Food Traders supports Agriculture Ministry’s proposal to reduce VAT rate for food and separate food product groups. Traders confirm that this step will also reduce food product prices in stores.

«Latvian food retailers unanimously support the initiative to reduce VAT for fresh vegetables and fruits. Currently large volumes of vegetables and fruits of unknown origin are brought to Latvia. They are sold in in the country without paying VAT,» says LPTA CEO Noris Kruzitis.

«In addition, as confirmed by local producers, reduction of VAT for fresh vegetables and fruits will help reduce the turnover of illegal products in the country,» Kruzitis explains.

The association also reports that differentiated VAT rates for food and separate food product groups would also be reflected in proportionally reduced prices of fresh fruits and vegetables in shops.

Full article here

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Kariņš: Unity started drifting when Valdis Dombrovskis left is management

Unity should seriously consider the option of starting in Saeima elections alongside other parties, said MEP Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

CSP: average size of agricultural areas increases in Latvia

In 2016 the average size of agricultural holding constituted 43.2 ha, which is 15.5 % more than in 2013 when the average land area per holding accounted for 37.4 ha. The total standard output has risen by 24.5 %. Nevertheless, the number of economically active farms has reduced by 14.5 %.

Antāne forms a new political party in Ventspils with more than 350 associates

A new political party was founded in Ventspils this Thursday, 21 September. The name of this new party is Laiks Pārmaiņām (Time for Changes). The initiator of the founding of this new party is Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne.

NATO: suspicions about Zapad 2017 were justified

NATO views its suspicions about Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 military exercises as well-justified, because their scale and geography were larger than what was officially stated.

Expert: Latvia’s electronic industry productivity index on a rise

Electronics industry is the most rapidly growing processing industry in Latvia. This industry’s turnover growth in Latvia has been more rapid than that of Europe and the rest of Baltic States, says manager of wholesale trade company Lemona Latvija Sergejs Nikiforovs.

Video: How to make white-water rafting more dangerous?

If you think white-water rafting is a piece of cake, you can try getting over some rapids on six rafts.

Kaimiņš: Lembergs is Latvia’s biggest misfortune

It is no secret to anyone that the parliamentary committee in charge of investigating Oligarch case has so-called experts that are closely associated with infamous Ventspils politician Aivars Lembergs or his family. In an interview to BNN, Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš shared his opinion about the latest scandalous development associated with Oligarch talks. He calls Lembergs Latvia’s biggest misfortune.

EC: Money for Rail Baltica in next period will be negotiated

Funding of the Rail Baltica railway project after the year 2020 will be negotiated upon as part of the EU's financial plan for the next period, has stated the European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport.

Sudraba published «false information» on parliamentary committee’s website

Parliamentarian Andrejs Judins asks to evaluate Inguna Sudraba’s possible breach of ethics with the publication of ‘false information’ on the website of Saeima’s parliamentary investigation committee responsible for the investigation of oligarch case.

Estonia plans to direct 300 million euros to healthcare

With the aim of improving the quality and access to Estonian healthcare, the country's government has backed amendments, which set forth increasing healthcare funding by 300 million over a period of five years

HTC agrees to sell part of its innovators and intellectual property to Google

U.S. computer technology firm Google has reached a deal with Taiwanese smartphone-maker HTC so that the latter would share part of its product development team and allow using HTC intellectual property.

22-year sentence for Imanta paedophile comes into force

With the Supreme Court of Justice abandoning the review of Riga Regional Court’s ruling, the 22-year sentence for the man prosecuted in the so-called Imanta paedophile case has come into force, as reported by the court.

Weekend in Latvia expected to be warm and sunny

The sky in Latvia will become clear during the day on Friday, 22 September. Rain is only expected to come to certain western areas. Air temperature will likely reach +16° C… +20° C, whereas air temperature at night will drop to +9° C… +14° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

UK to offer EU 20 billion euros, if it can remain in single market

British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to offer a transitional agreement with the European Union that would concern a two-year period until the country leaves the bloc in 2019.

Number of bankruptcies down in Latvia and Estonia but up in Lithuania

Last year, the number of bankruptcies declined 12.4% in Latvia and 10.9% in Estonia. Lithuania, on the other hand, had experienced a 35.2% increase in the number of bankrupt companies, according to information compiled by Coface.

Lithuania sets off alarm bells over quality of international brands' foods

What Lithuania‘s State Food and Veterinary service announced last Tuesday was big news in Lithuania, but not so of a discovery to the majority of Eastern European consumers - food of international brands sold in Western Europe and in Eastern Europe, and Lithuania, are not just the same.

Saeima forms a group to support HIV and tuberculosis patients

On Thursday, 21 September, Latvia’s Saeima agreed with deputy Hosams Abu Meri’s proposal to form a deputy group to support HIV and tuberculosis patients, as confirmed by Abu Meri’s assistant Edgars Ikstens.

Politologist comments whether Vējoņis’ authority is at risk or not

Saeima’s vote in which Latvian President Raimonds Vējoņis’ proposal on the status of non-citizens’ children was not pushed forward was as though a strike against the president’s authority, comments Filips Rajevskis.

In pictures: Mexicans rush to find quake survivors

A massive rescue effort is continuing in Mexico City and other areas in Mexico to find possible survivors caught under buildings that collapsed in the September 19 earthquake, which has killed no less than 237 people.

Producer prices in industry grew 0.1% in August

Compared to July, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.1 % in August 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market, as well as those of exported products grew by 0.1 %.

Saeima supports simplification of investigation of less serious crimes

On Thursday, 21 September, Latvia’s Saeima conceptually supported changes to the Criminal Process Law that provide for simplification of investigation procedures of less serious crimes.

Ozoliņš: transit and logistics industries should communicate more actively

Mutual communication and information exchange among businesses working in the industry is the pre-condition for improvement of Latvia’s transit industry, said Transport Ministry’s state secretary Kaspars Ozoliņš at a meeting of the Logistics Council.

As Estonia mends ID cyber vulnerability, officials recommended mobile ID

As Estonia tries to solve potential security risks found in the chips of 750,000 national ID cards, state officials using e-services have been recommended to Mobile-ID in addition to ID cards.

Vējonis: peaceful resolution of Ukraine’s conflict is Latvia’s priority

«Russia’s unjustified aggression towards its neighbours is a serious breach of international law. Any aggressor who begins and continues such conflicts should be brought to justice for breach of international law,» says Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis.

Authorities apprehend criminal group that caused 1.7 million euros worth of damage to the state

Latvian State Revenue Service’s Finance Police in cooperation with State Police anti-terrorism unit Omega neutralized a criminal group that specialized in VAT fraud and money laundering, as confirmed by SRS representative Evita Teice-Mamaja.

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