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Wednesday 25.04.2018 | Name days: Līksma, Bārbala

BNN summary of the week: Grigule leaves, Lithunia no longer an outsider, gas get single bill

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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, including change, business, fight, truth, growth and future.

Change: Grigule submits resignation to leave LFU

MEP Iveta Grigule has decided to leave Latvian Farmers Union. In her interview to Panorāma, Grigule said she was shown social surveys that showed declines of ratings of the Union of Greens and Farmers and the government. «I don’t want to get in anyone’s way – if I am the reason for the decline in ratings, I hope this step will help recover lost positions,» Grigule said. When asked if she truly believes she is the reason for the rating decline, the politician asked to look at ratings in a couple of months.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/grigule-writes-request-to-leave-latvian-farmers-union-159972

Business: Government approves open gas market principles

From now on all activities in the gas trade process involving customer service will be secured by the trader. With that, clients will only have to sign one contract and receive one bill.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/government-approves-open-gas-market-principles-159876

Fight: NEPLP concerned about Latvijas Radio’s situation

«National Electronic Mass Media Council is very concerned over the situation at Latvijas Radio. Recent meetings and discussions have left the impression that LR does not function as a team. Such a situation is unacceptable. The council expects explanations, an action plan and specific solutions,» – says council member Ivars Abolins.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/abolins-neplp-concerned-about-latvijas-radio-s-situation-160144

Decline: Sudraba and Aboltina believe Kucinskis’ mistake was the approval of this year’s budget

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis’ government is as though an empty boat without a captain or crew tossed around by waves. Such an assessment to Kucinskis’ government’s first year was given by Inguna Sudraba in her interview to Rīta panorama on 9 February. Solvita Aboltina told LNT on 9 February that trust for Kucinskis’ government is below the lowest point of Laimdota Straujuma’s government, which is rather unfortunate to say the least, she said. Aboltina believes the biggest accomplishment of Kucinskis’ government is the reform in education. Its biggest mistake, on the other hand, was the approval of this year’s budget.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/sudraba-and-aboltina-kucinskis-mistake-approval-of-this-year-s-budget-159986

Truth: Ombudsman reports many complaints are received in regards to work in SRS

The State Revenue Service does not comply with principles of the Administrative Process Law in its work. The service has had poor progress with introduction of good management lately, said ombudsman Juris Jansons. He said that even if a person is late with submitting some information, SRS responds very repressively. But if it is SRS who does not respond to residents’ applications, the service faces no penalties.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/ombudsman-many-complaints-are-received-in-regards-to-work-in-srs-159705

Growth: Masjulis: Lithuania has become a leader of Rail Baltica

From an initially outsider position in the Rail Baltica project, Lithuania has become its leader, Lithuania Transport Minister Roks Masjulis told BNS on 9 February.

«During this meeting, I emphasized that Lithuania, which up until now was viewed as the project’s outsider, has become the leader. We already have a railway line from Poland’s border all the way to Kaunas. In addition, we have begun establishing a route from Kaunas to Latvia’s border. No other country has done as much,» Masjulis said.

Full article here: http://bnn-news.com/masjulis-lithuania-has-become-a-leader-of-rail-baltica-160103

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«Oligarch talks» publication law put on hold; will fabricated «risks» impact UGF?

On Tuesday, 25 April, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee decided against putting up for a vote the legislative draft for the digitization and publication of the declassified portion of materials from the so-called oligarch talks criminal case.

OECD to perform independent audit of decisions made by Latvian supervisory services

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development plans to perform an independent audit of decisions made by the Finance Capital and Market Commission and Anti-money Laundering Service, as confirmed by Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola after a meeting of Finance Sector Development Council on 25 April.

Level of prices of agricultural products in Latvia grew 11.6% in 2017

The total price index of agricultural output in 2017 had increased by 11.6 %, which was mainly due to the rise in prices of livestock products of 25.8 %. The price index of crop products grew by 2.2 %.

51% of residents would not purchase goods production of which would pollute the environment

Environment-friendly lifestyle in Latvia, like elsewhere in the world, is becoming more popular every day. So-called green thinking also affects Latvian residents’ habits. 53% of Latvian residents prefer goods and services that help protect the environment, according to results of a study performed by AS Latvijas Zaļais punkts.

World Press Freedom index ranks Estonia highest among Baltic states

The French-based organisation Reporters Without Borders has published its 2018 World Press Freedom index, where Estonia has been ranked 12th and Latvia has been moved up by four positions to the 24th place.

Abu Meri: parliamentary investigative committee could help combat corruption in Riga City Council

«Nils Ušakovs’ policy in Riga is not only non-democratic but also allows for systematic corruption, which has become a tradition. If a week goes by with no scandal, it seems too long. Because of that, I consider forming a parliamentary investigative committee to study corruption in Riga City Council,» said Unity’s Saeima faction leader Hosams Abu Meri in an interview to BNN.

200 thousand Estonian e-mail passwords found leaked online

The global database of the illegally leaked passwords of tons of e-mail addresses contains passwords used by some 215 000 Estonian internet users.

Latvian EC Commissioner invites businesses to prepare for all Brexit scenarios

Businesses and supervisors should prepare for all possible Brexit scenarios, said Deputy Chairman of the European Commission on Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Market Union Valdis Dombrovskis participating in the ongoing finance forum City Week in the UK.

Latvia prepared to pay 4.8 million euros for participation in Expo 2020 in Dubai

Latvian government is prepared for participation in the international Expo 2020 in Dubai. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis said after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers this Tuesday that it is planned to allocate EUR 4.8 million for this venture.

Spanish resort city to prohibit renting apartments to tourists

Palma, the Spanish resort city in the Mediterranean island of Majorca, has adopted a restriction that apartment will be not allowed to rent their apartments to travellers, becoming the first place in Spain to introduce such a ban.

Supreme Court of Justice views Kristovskis’ claim against Ventspils City Council

On 25 April, the Administrative Cases Department of the Supreme Court of Justice will be viewing two claims submitted by Ventspils City Council deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis against the city council. «The fact that the case will be viewed verbally and that the defendants include Ventspils City Council, EPRDM and Association of Local Governments is considered unique and unprecedented in Latvia’s court practice,» says Kristovskis.

Messaging app Whatsapp not to be available to under-16s in EU

The smartphone messaging app Whatsapp plans to raise the minimum age limit to its European Union users from 13 to 16 years, as it is adjusting its rules of use to the upcoming EU data privacy regulations.

Saeima speaker in Tallinn: EU and NATO cooperation in defence should be enhanced

Close cooperation between European Union and NATO in defence is now more important than ever. This is especially true for cyber security and hybrid-thread prevention, said Latvian Saeima’s speaker Ināra Mūrniece during a meeting of EU member states parliaments in Tallinn on Tuesday, 24 April.

Ministry avoids going against supporting parties; Ventspils City Council’s violations reported to court

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has no influence at all, and sometimes it seems it has no desire to exercise its rights and perform its duties. This situation most likely appeared because the institution is led by a minister who represents a specific political party.

Warfare in Ukraine escalates, soldiers wounded

In the Donbas War that continues for the fifth year in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, Russian hybrid forces have this week conducted a total of 44 attacks, wounding five soldiers, the Ukrainian military reports.

Demand for mortgage loans grew 53% in March

Increased demand for mortgage loans with state guarantees was observed in Latvia in March. Nearly every other loan application filed last month was intended for housing purchase using Altum guarantee. The largest amount of interest came from families with children, as reported by Citadele Bank.

Most businesses in Latvia still not ready for data protection regulation

The majority of businesses in Latvia are still not ready for EU General Data Protection Regulation, which is due to come to force on 25 May, says KPMG lawyer and certified data protection specialist Sanita Pētersone.

Finnish prisoners found radicalising towards Islamic and far-right extremism

In prisons in Southern Finland, a study of radicalisation of inmates has been conducted and has identified dozens of inmates, who are moving into either radical Islam or into far-right violent extremism.

Ušakovs invites colleagues from Russia to attend centenary festivities in Riga

Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs has invited mayors from 56 cities to attend festivities organized for Latvia’s centenary. This includes mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as confirmed by Ušakovs’ press-secretary Laila Ivāna.

Estonian President sees no return from e-governance

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has discussed with Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, the Baltic country's experience in providing public e-services to the population.

Norway interested in developing cooperation with Latvia in tourism industry

«Latvia welcomes successful regional and economic cooperation with Norway. Our countries have common values and goals – developing Baltic and Nordic countries as a wealthy and secure European region,» said Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens during his meeting with Norwegian State Secretary for Trade, Industry and Fisheries Roy Angelvik.

Finland not to continue its basic income scheme

The basic income scheme in Finland that has been tested in the Nordic country since 2017, will not be continued as the Finnish government has decided to look into other schemes for reforming the Finnish social security system

MEP: New Unity may be in the government with other parties that have similar goals

After Saeima elections, New Unity will cooperate with parties prepared to work with the association to accomplish specific goals, says leader of New Unity and member of the European Parliament Krišjānis Kariņš.

Canada experiences tragic attack on pedestrians in Toronto

In the Canadian city of Toronto, a driver has been driving onto pedestrians taking the lives of 10 people and injuring 15 more.

Latvian residents spend an average of EUR 81 on cosmetics every year

Latvian residents spend an average of EUR 81 on cosmetics every year, which is one of the lowest indexes in Europe. Compared to other Baltic States, Latvian residents spend less money on cosmetics, according to data compiled by Latvian Cosmetic Manufacturers Association.