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Wednesday 18.10.2017 | Name days: Rolanda, Rolands, Ronalds, Erlends
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BNN summary of the week: collapse due to absurd decisions and Aboltina’s return to diplomacy

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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: KNAB starts new inspection associated with oligarch case

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has commenced a new inspection associated with the so-called oligarch case. This time the inspection is about possible illegal acceptance of benefits by officials, as confirmed by KNAB management on Tuesday, 8 August.

KNAB Investigations Office Manager Ilze Kivleniece said the bureau has commenced a new inspection in relation to possible illegal acceptance of benefits by officials.

This inspection is planned to be completed within one month’s time. KNAB does not reveal the names of officials in question.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Vitol’s goal is stopping stock market quotation of LSC shares

The goal of Vitol Netherlands B.V. is stopping the quotation of Latvian Shipping Company’s shares at the stock market once the buy-back of shares is complete, said Chairman of Latvian Shipping Company Robert Kirkup.

The mandatory buy-back offer for LSC shares is currently ongoing, and Kirkup allows that not all minority shareholders will decide to sell their shares.

Kirkup comments: «I allow that there may be shareholders who will decide to keep their shares. There are definitely small shareholders who do not understand the point of the buy-back offer or have forgotten that they own shares. We saw this with the buy-back of Ventspils Nafta shares. But we do expect most minority shareholders will want to sell shares.»

He says no major changes to LSC’s operations are expected after the conclusion of the buy-back of shares.

«LSC will definitely remain a shipping company. This much will not change. We also hope our LSC Shipmanagement will attract more owners for technical management of our ships. Vitol Group has also voiced readiness to provide more ships for us if it becomes a co-owner of LSC,» Kirkup says.

Full article here

DECLINE: Average consumer price level up 2.6% in Latvia

Compared to July 2016, the average level of consumer prices increased by 2.6 % in July 2017. Prices of goods grew by 2.6 % and prices of services by 2.9 %.

Compared to July 2016, in July 2017 the greatest pressure on the price changes was put by the rise in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, goods and services related to housing, prices in miscellaneous goods and services group, prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, as well as decline in prices of clothing and footwear, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

The average level of food and non-alcoholic beverage prices increased by 6.6 %. Rise was recorded in prices of vegetables, meat and meat products, milk products, butter, milk, cheese and curd, bakery products, fresh or chilled fish, eggs, sugar, fresh fruit, and chocolate.

Within the group of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, the average level of prices went up by 2.7 %, which was mainly influenced by 5.4 % growth in prices of tobacco products. Prices of alcoholic beverages, of which beer, spirits and wine increased by 1.2 %.

Over the year, prices of garments dropped by 3.5 % and prices of footwear by 8.8 %.

Full article here

TRUTH: BATL says absurd decisions may cause a complete collapse in Latvia

Problems keep piling up in the transport and logistics industry, which is the second largest national economy industry in Latvia. On top of that, this industry may experience a complete collapse because of two unreasonable and absurd decisions, experts say.

The situation with dramatically declining cargoes has forced LatRailNet to increase railway tariffs by 7%, which will scare away cargoes and weaken local transporters.

It was previously reported that the government and Saeima have decided to increase excise tax for diesel fuel, ‘thereby making Latvia’s cargo transporting operations even less competitive and limiting the industry’s capabilities to attract new cargoes to replace lost Russian cargoes,’ specialists add.

«Weakening the transport and logistics industry will create a very serious fissure for Latvia’s national economy and will also impact nearly all economic fields, affecting the state budget, residents and commercial associations,» says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antane.

She also notes that it has been observed since May that Russia has been gradually abandoning its previously coordinated plans and transporting considerably less cargoes than what was agreed upon. Only 27.9% of the previously planned cargoes were transported in July. On top of that, the rate at which cargoes decline continues to increase. While it was 15% on average at the beginning of the year, the rate grew to 30% in spring. Now it reaches 70%.

Full article here

GROWTH: Multiple parties support oligarch case’s publication; UGF has yet to decide

The National Alliance VL-TB/LNNK may support Unity deputy Andrejs Judins’ proposal to approve a law on publication of materials of the so-called oligarch case.

Unity and the Union of Greens and Farmers plan to hold discussions about this idea.

Unity’s Saeima faction chairperson Solvita Aboltina says Judins’ proposal will be viewed at the next faction meeting. The deputy’s proposal is innovative, and it has to be reviewed properly to make sure publication of materials of a criminal case does not impact the rule of law, said Aboltina. She added that this idea has come under fire from Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.

When asked if the party has any plans about any more attempts to replace Inguna Sudraba in the post of chairperson of the parliamentary investigation committee for the oligarch case, Aboltina said concerns of some Unity member about the committee being formed in its current composition have been confirmed.

UGF Saeima’s faction leader Augusts Brigmanis said the following about Judins’ proposal – «the deeper in the forest we go, the more wood there is and the deeper we go, the more original the performance». Once Judins’ proposal has been phrased, it will be possible to decide on it at the next meeting of the political faction.

Full article here

FUTURE: Rinkevics and Aboltina discuss her return to diplomatic service

Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics and Unity Saeima faction chairperson Solvita Aboltina intend to discuss the politician’s return to the diplomatic service, said the minster’s advisor Martins Dregeris.

At the same time, Rinkevics said it is not possible to provide more detailed comments on this matter. He added that Aboltina has considerable experience working in the foreign affairs service. Aboltina also worked as the director of Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Consular Department before she began her political career. There have also been precedents in which politicians had returned to the foreign affairs service to perform diplomatic duties, which includes Foreign Ministry’s Inspector General Maris Riekstins and Latvia’s ambassador to France – Imants Liegis.

«This is nothing new, because the foreign affairs service is open for ex-diplomats. We never comment candidates until all national procedures are complete and we receive approval from other countries in regards to ambassadors,» Dregeris explains.

Full article here

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Poland hopes Turkey would join EU

Polish President Andrzej Duda meeting his Turkish counterpart shortly before an European Union-Turkey summit has expressed a hope that the country located at the cross-roads between Europe and the Middle East would join the EU some time.

Number of people at risk of poverty in Baltics in higher than the average in EU

The ratio of people subjected to poverty or social exclusion risk in Baltic States is higher than the average in the European Union, according to Eurostat data compiled for 26 out of 28 member states in 2016.

E-voting defended in Estonia after criticism from party leader

Responding to claims from a leader of an Estonian political party that the country’s e-voting system lacks transparency, the head of e-Government Academy’s e-democracy department explained it was possible that the voters of one party are more active e-voters than supporters of other parties.

Residents’ mood worsens; people become more critical about their finances

Over the course of the past month, residents’ general mood has worsened significantly – declines have been noted on all positions analysed by the survey. Residents were critical the most in the survey about their material state – the index in this category declined from -9 to -11, according to the latest Baltic International Bank Latvian Barometer.

Antāne: Saeima’s National Economy Committee has heard the transit industry’s cry

Inga Antāne, president of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics, is satisfied with the decision that was made at the recent meeting of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee, asking the Transport Ministry to develop and present a sustainable development strategy for the industry and putting an emphasis on raising the competitiveness of railway tariffs.

Latvian’s attitude towards combating cancer in late stages seems irresponsible

The attitude towards combating cancer in late stages in Latvia remains very low, says former healthcare minister of Latvia Ingrīda Circene.

Hydrogen-powered transport technology – a reality in Latvia

There are plans to establish a hydrogen refuelling station in Riga before the end of 2017. A publicly available H2 refuelling station in Riga would secure an inter-state network of hydrogen refuelling stations: the closest other station will be established in Pernava, says Association Zero Emission Mobility Support chairman Arnis Bergs.

Estonian ministry to collect 270 000 euros from IT company over failure to build information system

Tieto Estonia, the Estonian branch of Finnish IT firm group Tieto will compensate the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs 270,000 euros for the failure of the SKAIS2 project, the aim of which was the development of a new information system for the Estonian social insurance authority, but was deemed a failure in August.

Latvia invites Iran to act constructively to ensure security

Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs participated in a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where he discussed about the role of Iran in the region and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in light of the upcoming report from US President Donald Trump to the Congress on Iran’s progress realizing the plan.

Vigil held in Malta over killing of investigative journalist

Several thousand people in Malta have taken part in a vigil held after news broke of the killing of an investigative journalist, who blamed Maltese government for corruption.

American exchange indexes reach record-high values; oil prices on the rise

In response to price rise of bank stocks, three leading indexes of US exchanges reached new record heights on Monday, 16 October. In addition, US Federal Reserve System manager Janet Yellen’s prediction regarding a soon inflation rise has increased confidence that base interest rate will increase in December.

54.14% more alcohol exported from Latvia; most of it to Russia

In the first eight months of 2017, a total of 102.259 million litres of alcoholic drinks was exported from Latvia, which is 54.14% more when compared with the same period of last year.

In pictures: Ireland hit by worst storm in 50 years

Three people have been killed in Ireland in the storm Ophelia, which cut off electricity networks to 120 000 homes and businesses in the country. Gusts of wind in Ireland on Monday, October 16, had reached the speed of 44 metres per second.

Tragic wildfires in Portugal and Spain

No less than 30 people have died in wildfires in Portugal and Spain.

Ašeradens to leave Latvian government at the end of November

Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens intends to leave the government after approval of the 2018 budget in the Saeima, which is scheduled for the end of November, as confirmed by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

Islamic extremists blamed for tragic terrorist attack in Somalia

The death-toll in a tragic terror attack in the eastern African state of Somalia has reached 320 people and local authorities have stated that a key member of the cell that allegedly launched the attack on Mogadishu has told them that al-Shabaab was responsible for the crime.

Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks gets new management

From now on Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks will have a new chairman: once the head of Latio Namsaimnieks has been appointed as the new head of the company. The other vacant post has been given to Ardis Pāvilsons.

Catalonia misses ultimatum deadline, Spanish government vows to act after Thursday

The separatist Spainish region of Catalonia has missed the deadline to clarify, if it has declared independence and Madrid has received a letter from the President of the autonomous region, which still needs analysis.

What will be the consequences for companies that cheated with electricity production permits

Businesses that were caught using fake permits for electricity production in mandatory procurements will not have their permits extended, says Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvian tourist accommodation facilities experience increase of overnight guests

The number of nights tourists and other guests spent in Latvian hotels and other tourist accommodation facilities in the first eight months of 2018 has grown 12.2% in comparison with the same period of last year, reaching 3.524 million.

Antāne: transit industry has been on thin ice lately

«The transit industry has been on thin ice lately. Russia’s decision to divert all cargoes to its ports will only smash the ice. The government and state policy-makers have two choices – wait for the ice to break completely and watch the industry drown until finally stepping in, or act now to at least reduce the crisis for the country’s national economy, workers and their families,» says President of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics Inga Antāne.

Kučinskis evasive in evaluation of Unity’s Economy Minister candidates

Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis remains evasive when it comes to assessing Unity’s Economy Minister candidates.

Amid alleged harassment scandal, Rõivas leaves post in Riigikogu

The former head of Estonian government Taavi Rõivas, who has been pointed to as allegedly having groped a woman during a visit to Singapore, has denied the claims, but has nevertheless decided to leave the of the second deputy speaker of the Estonian parliament.

De Facto: only one person was convicted of corruption in politics by KNAB in 15 years

In the past fifteen years, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau completed only one political corruption case, as concluded by De Facto programme of LTV.

Centre party victorious in Estonian local government elections

In the Estonian municipal election, held on October 15, the largest overall support has been won by Centre Party that is also the ruling party in Estonian central government.

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