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Monday 18.06.2018 | Name days: Madis, Alberts
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BNN summary of the week: distorted state administration, Liepājas metalurgs recovery, and Latvia's unemployment level

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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; Growth; Business; Fight; Future; Opinion

CHANGE: Nurses’ wages up 50-70%, but still far from competitive

Wages of nurses of Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital have grown 50-60%. However, there is still a long way to go before they become competitive, said Stradins Hospital’s head nurse Eva Cela in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

While in the past nurses in Stradins Hospital were paid EUR 500 to EUR 600 for a full shift, now they are paid EUR 1,000 to EUR 1,500. At the same time, wages remain too low to be considered competitive, admits Cela, adding that the average wage of nurses in Europe ranges between EUR 3,000 and EUR 5,000.

Cela says it seems to her that Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša’s priority is finding additional funding for this goal.

According to her, the minister has commenced a powerful reform in healthcare, which is necessary. Cela believes Čakša is the only one of the last several healthcare ministers that has provided considerable support to raise the prestige of the nurse’s profession. The ministry has several work groups working on solutions to raise standards of the nurse profession.

She also says that last year she signed documents for nurses wishing to work abroad nearly every day. This year, however, there was only one.

Full article here

GROWTH: Barometer data shows residents with higher education are more optimistic job-seekers

53% of interviewed residents believe the possibility of finding a decent job and making a good earning in Latvia is poor, and this worsens their financial situation. Because of that, residents leave the country in search of greener pastures, according to results of Baltic International Bank’s latest Latvian Barometer.

It is worth mentioning, however, that residents with higher education are more optimistic in this matter than residents who lack higher education, as concluded in the survey.

When asked to score their family’s financial state, residents with higher education were more optimistic in their replies – 26% said their family’s state is good. Residents with secondary education, on the other hand, are more negative – 27% said their family’s financials state is poor. Only 14% of respondents with higher education said their family’s financial state is poor, according to results of the study.

When asked to assess the current state of Latvia’s labour market, the majority of respondents said the possibility of finding work is poor. 63% of respondents with primary education and almost as many respondents with secondary or vocational education stated as much. Residents who have higher education are more optimistic, but even in this category 36% of respondents voiced a critical opinion.

Full article here

BUSINESS: British Steel says it is interested in Liepājas metalurgs’ recovery, not asset purchase

The consortium consisting of British Steel, Greybull Capital and Estonian Baltic Metal Holding is interested in KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ recovery, not the purchase of its assets, says Greybull Capital partner Daniel Goldstein.

He refused to go into detail as to why the consortium exited from last year’s KVV Liepājas metalurgs sale process. He did say that ‘now there may be an option to perform the company’s purchase in a constructive way’. This is why the consortium voiced the desire to purchase all of KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ property together earlier this year. «The previous approach was auctioning off assets. We were not interested in such a process. We are interested in creating a business. Business and assets are different things. For a business to form successfully, all interested sides should actively participate. This is what we are hoping for. Assets are important, but they are not decisive. If you have assets, it does not mean you’ll be successful,» said Goldstein.

He admits that there isn’t a clear action plan in relation to Liepājas metalurgs’ already auctioned off assets.

Full article here

FIGHT: Latvian Saeima’s committee does not support Kušners’ re-approval in Bank of Latvia council

On Thursday, 17 May, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided not to recommend Edvards Kušners for a repeated term in the council of the Bank of Latvia.

Three deputies voiced support for Kušners – Imants Parādnieks, Inguna Sudraba and Juris Viļums. Three deputies – Jānis Vucāns, Aleksandrs Kiršteins and Edgars Putra – voted against. Deputy Renārs Putniņš abstained in the vote, and Igors Pimenovs was absent.

After interviewing Kušners last week, deputies decided to take a pause in this matter. Most of the questions Kušners was asked were associated with events of 2005. At the time, he was deputy chief of the Legal Affairs Office of the Bank of Land. He was later appointed as an authorized person to Delaware-registered company Carew Estates LLC.

Full article here

FUTURE: Certus prepares recommendations for political parties’ economic programmes

«The number of economically active residents in Latvia continues to decline. Economic growth remains directly dependent on inflow of EU funds. The country chronically lacks money for education, healthcare and roads. It is clear that traditional economic thinking no longer works. The time has come for a new approach based around priority directions and cooperation between the public and private sectors. If political parties truly want to end the outflow of residents and emptying of the country’s regions, as well as achieve rapid economic growth and ensure a high welfare level for Latvia, they should consider alternative economic development models and include them in their programmes,» says Certus manager Vjacheslavs Dombrovskis.

In preparation for upcoming Saeima elections, Certus is busy preparing recommendations for political parties’ economic programmes. Recommendations will be based on the think tank’s vision for Latvia’s development – ‘Latvija 2022: 3+3 model’.

Full article here

OPINION: KPV LV believes Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration

Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration. The coalition council should be liquidated entirely, says KPV LV co-chairman Atis Zakatistovs.

«KPV LV’s analytical group has found that there are roughly 160 councils in Latvia. The mother of all of them is the Coalition Council. This has resulted in a situation when people in councils anonymously secure themselves beneficial solutions in state administration matters. The council is used as a lobby that distorts Latvia’s government. The Coalition Council should be liquidated because it is neither covered by the Constitution nor the Saeima’s Internal Order. In addition, this council only degrades public discussions,» says Zakatistovs.

KPV LV also wants to see fewer ministries in Latvia. ‘There are currently thirteen ministries. We intend to leave only seven together with the prime minister’s office,’ as stated in the political party’s pre-election programme. KPV LV promises to replace ministries with non-political secretariats.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Railways joins European train system Interrail

Lithuanian state railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai has joined Interrail, a European train system that allows passengers to buy cheaper tickets for train travel across Europe.

Zolitūde tragedy lawyer criticises Latvian laws as favourable to insolvency administrators, not business owners

Outspoken Latvian lawyer, Aldis Gobzems, who defends in civil trials the victims of the Zolitūde supermarket collapse, where 54 people died and dozens suffered injuries, has joined the KPV LV party for the parliamentary election and is pointing to perceived political support to a few successful insolvency administrators.

Eurozone simulation with monthly billions to be quit in 2018

The European Central Bank has stated it would quit end its massive programme to stimulate the eurozone economy by buying bonds for 30 billion euros each month in December.

Human traffickers in Hungary sent to prison for 71 people dead in meat truck

For the deaths of 71 migrants, who suffocated in a sealed meat truck in Hungary in August 2015, a Hungarian court has sentenced four men to 25-year jail terms after finding them guilty of people-smuggling.

Lithuanian employers bristle against minimum wage raise to 450 euro

The disparities of the socio-economic development of the regions are very high in Lithuania, so raising the minimum wage from 400 euros now to 450 euros as suggested by the Lithuanian Government would cripple many small and medium-sized business owners in the less prosperous regions and the municipalities, Lithuanian economists caution. The minimum wage was raised in Lithuania by 20 per cent to 400 euros last year.

No-confidence vote on Latvian Justice Minister postponed to June 20

In the Latvian parliament, two motions asking for the resignation of Latvian Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs have been submitted and the vote is expected to take place on June 20.

Judge urges to stop testing politicians for cooperation with Soviet KGB

As Latvian politicians running in elections have to acknowledge that they have not worked for the Soviet State Security Committee during the Soviet occupation of the country, courts have since 1995 been looking into cases of possible cooperation and now, due to the lack of evidence, politicians should drop the evaluation of possible cooperation with the KGB, suggested a judge at the Riga Regional Court.

State budget income up 11% in Latvia this year

In the Latvian state budget, a total of 3.8 billion euros have been paid in the first five months of 2018, which is by 11% more than in the respective period last year, the Latvian State Revenue Service stated.

Volkswagen fined billion euros for diesel exhaust scheme

German car maker Volkswagen has been fined one billion euros by German prosecutors for its diesel emissions scandal and the car firm's management has stated it did not plan to appeal against the fine.

U.S.: Sanctions against North Korea to remain until complete denuclearisation

The U.S. has warned North Korea that it would not see any economic sanctions lifted until it has demonstrated «complete denuclearisation», according to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Popular restaurant chain denies alleged tampering with cash registers

Criminal police in Latvia has conducted searches at the popular Riga restaurant chain Vairāk Saules on suspicion of alleged tampering with its cash registers.

Pigs in first swine fever-hit farm culled

As to the first case of domestic pigs in Latvia being infected with the African swine fever virus in 2018, Latvian veterinary authorities have culled 165 pigs in the affected farm in central Latvia.

Bank of Latvia head appeals against decision to remove his access to state secrets

The Bank of Latvia President, Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, who is suspected of accepting a bribe, has appealed to the Prosecutor General, Ēriks Kalnmeiers, against the decision by the Latvian Constitution Protection Bureau to remove his permit to access state secrets.

Charging electric car to cost 15 cents per minute in Latvia

As Latvia builds its network of 150 quick charging stations for electric vehicles, the Latvian government has approved the cost of the service at 15 euro cents per minute with the value added tax.

Bank watchdog allows ABLV Bank to perform voluntary liquidation

Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) has decided at a board meeting to allow ABLV Bank to start its voluntary liquidation process.

Greece and Macedonia agree on new, acceptable name for latter to end dispute

The governments of Greece and its neighbouring country Macedonia have reached an agreement on the name of the latter to end a decades-long dispute that has blocked Macedonia's aspirations to become part of NATO and the European Union.

North Korea commits to verifiable denuclearisation, U.S. - to quit participating in war games

In the first summit meeting between North Korea and the U.S., Pyongyang has committed to verifiable denuclearisation and in return Washington has stated American troops would no longed take part in mass war games held in South Korea.

Plan to ban female gamete donation passed for third reading in Saeima

At the Latvian Saeima, the draft amendments aimed at banning women, who have not given birth, from donating their gametes, has been passed for the third reading to the members of the parliament.

In pictures: Design competition for reconstruction of Riga Circus continues

As the Latvian Ministry of Culture is continuing the competition for the architectural design for the reconstruction of Riga Circus building, an exhibition of the submitted design projects has been opened at the Architecture Faculty of the Riga Technical University.

Historians: Soviet occupation authorities constantly interfered in religious life

During the Soviet occupation of Latvia, security workers and the Council of Religious Cult Affairs had constantly interfered in the selection of church officials, established the Latvian Commission for the Scientific Research of the State Security of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Fruit growers in Latvia see effects of drought and heat as «disastrous»

The unusually high temperatures and lack of precipitation this May in Latvia have added to the adverse effects that last year's chilly and wet summer has had in the field of fruit growing, the leadership of the Latvian Orchardman Association, has warned.

Migrant rescue ship rejected by Italy and Malta to be accepted in Spain

Mediterranean rescue ship with 629 people on board that has not been allowed to dock in Italy and Malta, would, according to Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, be accepted in Spain to help avoid a humanitarian disaster.

North Korean-U.S. historic summit focuses on defusing tensions in Korea

Head of North Korea Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump have met for talks in Singapore working on the issues of denuclearisation and lowering tensions in Korea months after they have exchanged military threats.

Police in Latvia switches from grey to colourful

As the Latvian State Police starts changing the way its cars are painted, it has presented their new colours, which will be on all State Police cars by 2020.

Petition calling for Latvia-wide restrictions on gambling launched

Latvia's New Conservative Party is calling for strict limitations to the work of gambling rooms in the country and is inviting people to sign an online petition on the issue.

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