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Sunday 22.10.2017 | Name days: Irīda, Īrisa
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BNN summary of the week: Estonian minister disapproves of NATO; Latvia’s tax system lags behind

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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: Business; Change; Future; Decline; Truth and Growth.

CHANGE: Estonian Minister steps down after questioning NATO membership

Estonian Minister of Public Affairs Mihhail Korb has stated he resigns from office after saying he is not in favour of NATO membership.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Korb announced on Wednesday, May 25, following scandal that erupted earlier in the day about a comment he had made and after a lengthy discussion with Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, a fellow member of Centre Party.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Support to Rail Baltica further funding voiced by European Parliament Committee

Political support for continued funding of the railway project Rail Baltica has been acknowledged by a member of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Rail Baltic will cost close to 6 billion euros to build and will not be completed during the EU’s current budget period, so additional funding from the next joint budget is needed.

Full article here

DECLINE: Government’s indecisiveness and rushed decisions impact transit industry

The refusal of Russian Railways to carry cargoes from Russian ports to Latvia could create a state of emergency for Latvia’s transit industry, says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics.

The crisis in the country’s second largest national economy industry will strongly impact Latvia’s economy, the association states, adding that the situation became like this because of the government’s indecisiveness, rushed and unreasonable decisions, as well as its refusal to resolve problems associated with the industry’s competitiveness.

«The government’s decision to prohibit Ventspils port to participate in the massive international Nord Stream 2 project shows that the government either does not know how or does not want to serve their country’s economic interests,» BATL continues.

Logistics industry’s representatives explain that the government’s arguments about the threat posed by Nord Stream 2 project to the country’s security do not hold up against criticism. «According to Latvia’s foreign policy doctrine, Russia remains our country’s strategic cooperation partners. Talks of espionage under the cover of pipeline components’ transport are nothing more than unreasonable dramatization of the entire situation. A more realistic threat is the army of unemployed people caused by the dramatic decline of transit cargoes. It will be necessary to pay social benefits to those people. We can also expect a new wave of emigration,» says BATL president Inga Antane.

Full article here

TRUTH: Latvia’s tax system is less progressive than systems in other EU countries

The European Commission recommends Latvia to reduce the tax burden for small wage recipients and move it to other sources that are less impacting on growth and motivate people to pay taxes.

EC notes that Latvia’s income inequality is one of the highest among EU member states and the country’s tax system is less progressive than what is found in other member states.

European Council recommends Latvia to realize a fiscal policy this year and the next in accordance with requirements of Stability and Growth Pact’s preventive measures section, which includes the goal for reaching medium-term budget goals in 2018.

EC’s published recommendations urge for improvements to the adequacy of social security and increase of work force’s professional skills by speeding up the reform of training programmes in vocational education.

Full article here

GROWTH: SRS and LCCI to cooperate in search for most efficient tax payment models

Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry and the State Revenue Service have signed an agreement for the development of better solutions he assist the growth of Latvia’s national economy.

This document provides for LCCI’s participation in the development of the tax policy, associated documents and regulations as long as it fits goals of SRS’ strategy. It is also planned SRS and LCCI will cooperate in the search for more efficient methods for the payment of taxes to better combat grey economy, contribute to economic breakthrough and increase honest competition.

It is expected this cooperation will organize training for businessmen to inform them of any new developments and changes to the existing system. Regular meetings will be organized between the two sides.

Full article here

Future: Razuks hints healthcare budget’s increase would require new fees

Sides involved in discussions about finding additional finances for healthcare have yet to reach a definite agreement. It is possible there may be a new fee introduced, said Saeima Public Health sub-committee chairman Romualds Razuks told Rīta panorama on Tuesday, 23 May.

The sub-committee will view the legislative draft on gradual rejection of extended work hours for doctors. Razuks mentioned that this matter will not be resolved without a transition period because there is not enough funding.

Currently the only open option to finance this step is using money from the emergency budget. The prime minister’s work group will continue discussions about the proposal to liquidate extended work hours, added the politician.

Razuks hinted that increasing healthcare budget would require a new fee – health insurance. Otherwise there will be no other option than suffer with insufficient funding.

Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia chairman Egils Baldzens adds that there have been many different proposals mentioned in the search for funding. Unfortunately, no agreement has been reached on any of them so far.

Full article here

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BNN summary of the week: birth and death rates in Latvia turn out shocking. Gambling halls to close down

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Fight; Truth; Business; Future.

Professor: by taking money away from science, the state shoots itself in the foot

The matter regarding insufficient funding for science has recently become more topical in the public space. President of Latvian Academy of Sciences Ojārs Spārītis is rather critical of the situation: Latvia has lied to the European Union and European Commission about making sure that funding for science reaches 1.5% of GDP by 2020.

To prevent fraud, audit of MPC recipients to be performed in Latvia

Latvian Economy Ministry intends to perform an audit of mandatory procurement component recipients and use new regulations to combat fraudulent activities, as confirmed by Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Rail Baltic procurements to be processed using Electronic Procurements System

Following the changes to Latvian Republic’s Public Procurements Law, all new procurements for Rail Baltica administered by RB RAIL will be processed using a free electronic information system and its e-contest subsystem.

Estonian construction price index pushed up by wages

The construction price index in Estonia has in July-September of 2017 increased by 0.9% in comparison to second quarter this year and by 1.7% from July-September of 2016, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Surplus of Latvia’s government budget reached 9.5 million euros in 2016

In 2016 general government budget surplus accounted for EUR 9.5 million or 0.04 % of the Gross Domestic Product, whereas general government consolidated gross debt amounted to EUR 10 091.6 million or 40.6 % of the GDP.

Latvia to invest EUR 5.9 million into formation of unified port network

Ports of Riga planning region and Kurzeme planning region have commenced an important tourism project. The goal of this project is creating a unified yacht port network in Latvia and Estonia with quality services that would allow developing sailing tourism and attract foreign sailing enthusiasts in the future, reports the regions’ representative Inese Ozoliņa.

Graft-suspected Tartu deputy mayors resign

In Estonia's second largest city, Tartu, Deputy Mayors Artjom Suvorov and Valvo Semilarski have stepped down from office, Estonian press reported, after the politicians were arrested under suspicion of graft.

Expert: workers of Latvia’s NGO sector have high ‘burnout’ risk

Workers of Latvia’s NGO sector have a high burnout risk, said once the director of Providus Dace Akule in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Producer: many young people come to work in the film industry

Latvia’s film industry has been steadily growing these past several years, and it is especially gratifying that many young people are coming to work in the industry, says director and producer, representative of Film Angels Productions Jānis Kalējs.

Pollution blamed for every sixth premature death globally

Nine million premature deaths globally in 2015 are said to be related to pollution, a study has found pointing to presence of harmful matter in air, water and workplace as the three main risk factors.

Infectologist: influenza kills biologically the weakest, including children and pregnant women

Influenza is an infection that affects both children and adults. However, it kills those who are biologically weak, says Immunization State Council chairperson and infectologist of Children’s Vaccination Centre Dace Zavadska.

Investor activity made easier between Latvia and Vietnam

An intergovernmental agreement has been signed between the Republic of Latvia and Socialist Republic of Vietnam on prevention of double taxation and tax avoidance in relation to income tax.

Colder masses of air to enter Latvia in coming days; precipitation to be limited

Although high atmospheric pressure will be present above Latvia in the coming days, southern regions in Latvia will experience short-term precipitation on Saturday, 12 October, caused by the cyclone active above Poland. Colder masses of air will enter Latvia in the coming days.

Maltese journalist said to be killed by remotely-controlled explosive

Officials in Malta have unveiled it is assumed that investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by an explosive places under her car, which was detonated remotely.

Prime Minister: Latvia cannot accept additional asylum seekers

Latvia cannot afford to resettle additional asylum seekers, said Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis during his meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday, 19 October.

Scandinavians purchase tourism company in Lithuania; changes expected in Latvia too

Dutch Otravo online travel organization has expanded and has purchased Lithuanian online travel agency Interno Partneris, thereby entering the Baltic market.

Ombudsman: non-citizen status matter should be resolved in next decade

The next ten years may be the transition period to ‘put an end’ to the non-citizen status in Latvia, said ombudsman Juris Jansons in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama.

Swedish Foreign Minister: harassment exists at highest political level

The Foreign Affairs Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallström, has commended the current sexual assault and harassment awareness campaign in social media and urged to fellow politicians to address the problem.

Latvenergo recognized as Latvia’s most valuable company for tenth time

Latvenergo has been recognized as Latvia’s most valuable company in 2017. Its value grew 34% in comparison with 2016, according to the TOP 101 list of Latvia’s most valuable companies compiled by Prudentia and Nasdaq Riga.

Number of births and number of deaths decline in Latvia

During the first nine months of this year 15,723 babies were born in Latvia, which is 1,113 children fewer than in the corresponding period of the last year.

CC applies binding conditions for the sale of MTG Broadcasting AB

Latvian Competition Council has decided to permit Bite Lietuva to purchase MTG Broadcasting AB group’s businesses in Latvia. CC has applied several binding conditions to prevent a possible impact on competition on the television services and advertisement market.

Eesti Energia warns: Limiting CO2 emissions on capacity could endanger energy supply

Estonian energy giant Eesti Energia has evaluated that a plan under discussion in the European Union to introduce a carbon dioxide release limit for capacity mechanisms to qualify for subsidies could adversely affect the security of supply in Estonia and the Baltic states.

Solidarity tax norm recognized as non-compliant with Latvia’s Constitution

On Thursday, 19 October, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia declared the Solidarity tax norm as non-compliant with the country’s Constitution.

Survey: Riga residents go to the doctor’s the most often

34% of residents undergo regular health checks, according to Mana Aptieka & Apotheka health index. In addition, women are twice as serious about health checks as men.