Latviski English По-русски
Ceturtdiena 22.03.2018 | Name days: Tamāra, Dziedra

BNN summary of the week: growing emigration in Lithuania, better investors’ mood in Latvia

(No Ratings Yet)

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, Business, Fight, Decline, Growth, Opinion, Future.

CHANGE: 2017 – the safest year for Latvia’s roads

Last year turned out to be the safest year for Latvia’s roads. This is because the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents turned out to lowest in recent years – 134, which is 15% less when compared with 2016. This also includes the lowest number of pedestrians who died in traffic accidents – 50, which is 9% less when compared with 2016, as reported by Latvian Transport Ministry.

The ministry notes that Latvia is one of the leaders among EU member states when it comes to reducing the number of deaths on roads. 158 deaths in 2016 was the lowest index in the country’s history, and the 16% decline in comparison with 2015 was the fourth most rapid decline of deaths in the European Union.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Conexus applies for certification with Gazprom shareholders still on board

In spite of the fact that there are representatives from Russian Gazprom concern among shareholders of Conexus Baltic Grid, the company has decided to submit an application to the Public Utilities Commission for certification.

Conexus chairperson Zane Kotāne explains – to accomplish ownership rights division’s main objective, Conexus, regardless of the composition of its shareholders, has managed to ensure that the transmission system’s operator is able to make decisions independently, ensuring transparency and avoiding discrimination towards transmission system’s users and market participants.

When preparing necessary documents, Conexus complied with European Commission’s explanations regarding separation of ownership rights and execution of control in compliance with requirements for transmission system operator’s independence.

With that, Conexus has prepared documents in accordance with Public Utilities Commission’s requirements for certification, which detail the necessary information to prove safe function of IT systems, protection of commercial information and equal treatment of all market participants.

Full article here

FIGHT: Ventspils Freeport’s lawsuit on lease termination is legally absurd

The company Kālija parks denies allegations regarding any violations of the signed lease and calls Ventspils Freeport authority’s claim for termination of land and dock lease unjustified and legally absurd, as noted by the company’s council member Aivars Gobiņš.

«Kālija parks does not agree with Ventspils Freeport authority’s claim, because it is unjustified, unproven, legally absurd and unacceptable,» as detailed in the company’s commentary submitted to court.

Kālija parks believes it has not violated the established land and dock lease. The company adds that no contracts regarding provision of additional income for Ventspils Freeport authority were ever signed by the company. The company notes that all the income Ventspils Freeport authority wishes to charge is already included in the agreed rent, and the freeport authority’s claim does not detail any complaints regarding any missed payments from Kālija parks. Ventspils Freeport authority has no right to enforce any other monetary transactions on the company working on leased port territory, as stated by Kālija parks.

Full article here

DECLINE: someone should take responsibility for the poorly-made e-health system

Latvian Medial Association (LMA) proposes forming a parliamentary investigative committee to evaluate the failed introduction of the e-health system and identify those responsible for its failure. In an open letter to Saeima’s Social and Employment Matters Committee chairperson Aija Barča and Health sub-committee chairman Romualds Ražuks, LMA points to a number of flaws associated with the development process and difficulties with this system’s introduction.

The association notes that at least the bare minimum of the e-health system was supposed to come online 1 January. This includes tools for issue of sick leave certificates and prescriptions. Expensive advertisements posted on mass media websites, praising e-health system, are the only functioning part of the system, the association notes.

At the same time, representatives note that the actual e-health system is unreliable at best – experts report long periods of down time for doctors, pharmacies and patients every day. Patients and doctors spend an enormous amount of time to prescribe and receive medication. The association is especially worried about problems associated with issue of medication for children, sugar diabetics and asthma patients – people whose lives depend on getting medicine as quickly as possible.

Full article here

GROWTH: Foreign investors’ mood improves further in Latvia

The general mood of foreign investors in Latvia has improved in the past year, said Professor Arnis Sauka of Stockholm School of Economics in Riga at the presentation of the Foreign Investment Environment Index 2017 on Wednesday, 10 January.

He also said problems have not changed much, most of them are associated with the country’s demographic situation and labour force availability.

Interviewed investors gave Latvia’s investment attractiveness a score of 2.5 out of 5 in 2017, whereas the score given to Latvia the year before was only 2 out of 5. Efforts of Latvian policy-makers to improve the country’s investment environment were given a score of 2.9 points (2.3 points in the past) by interviewed investors.

Three fields in which no major progress was observed in the past 12 months include the demographic situation, labour force accessibility, as well as healthcare and social system. Investors gave the demographic situation a score of 1.6 points out of 5. 74% of interviewed investors said they have seen no improvements in this field in the past year.

«Yes, not major changes are expected with the country’s demographic situation, but we do wish to see at least some progress. If progress is achieved, this field will not have a declining tendency. In this case investors do not look at how many children were born – they focus more on political initiatives and measures undertaken to improve the demographic situation. We have yet to see any positive changes in this field. And if no positive changes are noticed, what can we expect from the future?» said Sauka.

Full article here

OPINION: Estonia deems Zapad as Russia’s simulated attack on West

Russia practiced a massive military attack against Western Europe in the joint Russian-Belarusian large-scale drill Zapad, has claimed the commander of the Estonian Defence Forces.

«Let me be clear: With the exercise Zapad 2017, Russia simulated a large-scale military attack against NATO,» Lieutenant General Riho Terras said to German daily Bild as cited U.S. news portal Newsweek. «It was not targeted toward the Baltic states only, as it was a theater-wide series of exercises spanning from high North to the Black Sea.»

Full article here

FUTURE: Lithuania President exhorts mayors to be more proactive in tackling devastating emigration

A research by the Lithuanian bureau of the International Organization for Migration (LBIOM) introduced to all the mayors and a couple dozen editors-in-chief of national and regional newspapers in the Presidential Palace Wednesday makes the same conclusion: emigration is Lithuania’s biggest scourge – the view is shared by the President’s Office and the Lithuanian population alike.

However, the country has not until now drawn up an effective plan to stem the decamping. Furthermore, with new émigrés receiving wide support at their new homes abroad, Lithuania has not so far set up a single organization tasked with helping those who come back, although much has been talked about it.

Due to the gaps in the policy, the municipalities are mostly preoccupied with keeping their current dwellers than attempting to return those who already left, the research showed.

«We can say definitely that the municipalities feel having lost their battle over their departed residents. They feel whatever they do is way too little compared what the Western countries can offer them. There’s understanding that the state, not the municipalities has to address the problem (of emigration),» said Audra Sipavičenė, head of the LBIOM.

The survey is the first of the type during the 27 years of independent Lithuania.

The stats put the number of Lithuanian population at 3.7 million inhabitants in 1990 and it was thought to be at ca 2.85 million in 2017. However, authorities unofficially say the number of 2.5 is more realistic.

Full article here


Leave a reply

Planned hospital reorganisation in Lithuanian regions irks both mayors and patients

If the plan of the Lithuanian Ministry of Health to overhaul treatment services in the provinces does not hit a snag, the rural hospitals will be soon providing only essential care and nursing, the focus will be on out-patient care and treatment will be available only in larger county hospitals.

Ventspils beach high in popularity this week; Lembergs gets spotlight time as well

Ventspils ended up in the spotlight in an unusual way this week: seals washed up on the beach there. Animal Freedom emphasizes that human contact with baby seals would hurt them. Residents are asked to maintain at least 50 m distance from them. However, the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs decided to take photos with baby seals and publish them on his Facebook profile.

Ombudsman: problems in nursing homes and social care centres are associated with lack of funding

Problems in nursing homes and social care centres are largely associated with lack of funding, because it is not possible to perform high-quality work using currently available resources. This is the responsibility of ministries and the government, as ombudsman Juris Jansons mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Estonian music authors receive record royalties for 2017

The organisation, which is tasked by collecting royalties for local and foreign music in Estonia, the Estonian Authors' Society, has received six million euros in royalties in 2017, which is its record level.

Facebook sorry for permitting exploitation of 50 million user data in politics

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the social network failing to ensure enough privacy to its users that allowed for data on about 50 million of its users to abused by a political consultancy firm.

Zhdanok’s replacement to promote non-citizen matter in European Parliament

Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, who has taken Tatyana Zhdanok’s place in the European Parliament, plans to promote the matter of non-citizens in the institution.

Riga City Council committee supports increasing municipalities’ expenditures by 42.38 mln euro

Following an initiative from the Financial Department, the outlook for the municipality’s base budget revenue has been increased by EUR 1.66 million for 2018. The expenditures portion of the budget is planned to be increased by EUR 42.377 million, as reported by Riga City Council.

French ex-President named suspect in Libya funding case

In France, its ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been named as a suspect in the formal investigation for alleged illicit campaign financing, misappropriation of public funds of Libya and passive corruption.

Finance sector’s development council supports prohibition of shell companies

On Wednesday, 21 March, Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ managed Finance Sector’s Development Council supported initiative on prohibiting shell companies, as confirmed by the prime minister.

Level of producer prices in Latvia’s industry is up 3.4%

Compared to January, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 0.5 % in February 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.7 %, but prices of exported products went up by 0.3 %.

Minister: Latvia is far behind its neighbours in terms of digitization and e-skills

In terms of digitization and e-skills, Latvia is far behind its neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe, said Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

OECD: Latvian employees work longest hours in Baltics

In a comparison of Baltic countries per average annual hours worked, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has found earlier this year that the average Latvian worker spends 1,910 hours at work, followed by the Lithuanian employee with 1,885 hours and the average Estonian worker with 1,855 hours.

12th Saeima failed to complete half of its pre-election promises in field of justice

In 2014, Delna – society for openness and Providus think tank received support from all parties represented in the 12th Saeima in regards to an action plan to help strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Russia carries out military drills in Gulf of Finland

Russian Defence Ministry has stated that in the Baltic Sea Gulf of Finland, which has Finland, Russia and Estonia in its coastline, the Russian military has performed drills for its tactical special operations units.

Prime minister doubts Anti-Money Laundering Service head’s competence

«The work performed by the service requires drastic changes. Whether or not it can be done by its current head [Viesturs Burkāns], I am not sure,» said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in an interview to LNT, commenting on the work performed by Latvian Anti-Money Laundering Service.

Vilnius chosen for office of game developer Lockwood Publishing from UK

UK's mobile game developer Lockwood Publishing has unveiled plans to open its first overseas office in Vilnius, pointing to the industry's talent in Lithuania and the wider region.

Association: municipalities should organize their work on their own

On 6 March, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments reviewed the letter sent to Riga City Council by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, in which the institution ordered the municipality to review their internal order and lift restrictions on the length of debates and the number of questions deputies are allowed to ask.

Canada moves to increase gun control

Canada's federal federal government has proposed new gun control measures, but they could reduce support to the ruling Liberal Party in rural areas, where guns are widely owned and used.

Minister: EU should work on rules to make sure social networks cannot be manipulated

«European Union needs to react to the Facebook data scandal and develop strict regulations to make sure social networks cannot be used to manipulate people. Appropriate regulations are needed in the matter regarding political campaigns performed on social networks, which is gradually becoming a common occurrence nowadays,» says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Profits of Latvian State Roads increased by 8.6% last year

Turnover of Latvian State Roads reached EUR 14.529 million last year, which is 10.3% more when compared to 2016. The company’s profits increased by 8.6% - to EUR 59,485, according to the published interim financial report.

Slovak President casts doubt over impartiality of proposed government

In a continuation of the political crisis in Slovakia, Slovak President Andrej Kiska has not accepted a the newly proposed government deeming it possibly unable to supervise an impartial investigation of the two murders that have shaken the Eastern European nation.

France's ex-leader Sarkozy in custody over links with Libya

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been taken in custody on March 20 and was held in custody on Tuesday and interrogated amid an investigation into whether late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi added funds to his 2007 election campaign.

KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ steelworks bought out by Austrian Smart Stahl

The auction for the sale of the insolvent KVV Liepājas metalurgs rolling mill equipment concluded with the victory of Austrian Smart Stahl GmbH, as confirmed by insolvency administrator Guntars Koris.

Entomologist: at least 5% of ticks in Latvia are infected with encephalitis

There have been cases of tick activity during the winter period in Latvia this year. As air temperature increases, ticks become active and start popping up. This means residents should seriously consider vaccination to avoid getting encephalitis from tick bites, entomologists say.

Rail Baltica station’s construction at Riga airport will cost EUR 4.5 million

Creation of a separate railway station and related infrastructure at Riga International Airport as part of Rail Baltica project will cost EUR 4.5 million, says the project’s manager in Latvia and board member of European Railway Lines company Andris Linužs.