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Wednesday 18.10.2017 | Name days: Rolanda, Rolands, Ronalds, Erlends

BNN summary of the week: how stable is Lithuanian government and why Estonia motivates fathers

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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; Fight; Business; Future; Growth and Opinion.

CHANGE: government approves healthcare funding legislative draft

On Tuesday, 26 September, Latvian government approved the healthcare funding legislative draft, which was developed to establish the general outline for healthcare funding system’s principles and regulate the structure of the state mandatory health insurance.

«The goal of the legislative draft is securing sustainable funding for healthcare that is based around residents honestly paying taxes to provide appropriate funding in accordance with international practices (with it reaching 4% of GDP in 2020),» explains Healthcare Ministry.

The ministry emphasizes that the legislative draft provides that starting from 1 January 2019 all persons that perform social payments and groups of residents relieved of those payments are to be provided with a full basket of healthcare services.

In addition, full spectrum of healthcare services is to be provided to individuals who perform health insurance payments in a specific amount.

More here

BUSINESS: FCMC permits transition of Nordea Bank’s Latvian branch to DNB Bank

The Finance and Capital Market Commission has decided to permit transition of ownership over Nordea Bank AB assets and commitments in Latvia to DNB Bank, as confirmed by the commission.

Once the transition period ends, DNB Bank will be renamed as Luminor Bank.

«The deal between Nordea Bank and DNB Bank provides that Nordea Bank transfers its assets in Latvia to DNB Bank. This accounts for commitments, rights and duties, client contracts and other important bank assets. In accordance with the transition agreement, DNB Bank will acquire ownership over Nordea Bank Group’s shares in commercial associations, such as Nordea Pensions Latvia, Nordea Finance and others,» FCMC explains.

More here

FIGHT: criminal process for Tokyo City envelope wages case commences

Following voiced suspicions regarding payment of envelope wages and tax avoidance at Tokyo City public catering company, Latvian State Revenue Service’s Finance Police has commenced a criminal process, as reported by LTV Aizliegtais paņēmiens programme with reference to unofficial information.

The programme’s journalist spent nearly five months working at the company as a dishwasher. Part of her wage was paid in an envelope.

Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, commenting on the journalist’s uncovered facts, told the programme that this is more about the company’s dishonesty, because the size of taxes in public catering is optimal enough for businesses to afford to work honestly.

Payment of envelope wages in Latvia is a criminal offence. Although there have been discussions about providing administrative liability for recipients of envelope wages as well, no such measure has been implemented so far.

More here

TRUTH: Lembergs in prison – there is too much evidence for a not guilty verdict

«It is enough for me to know of a small fraction of the evidence against Aivars Lembergs to be confident that he will get a guilty verdict. I don’t really expect any other outcome,» said former investigator of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau Juris Jurašs in an interview to BNN.

He notes that it is clear that Lembergs is trying to prolong the court process for as long as possible, and he is succeeding. At the same time, Jurašs notes: «It is impossible not to notice just how nervous Lembergs is and how inadequate his behavour has become in communication with the public and in court. The court was forced to apply sanctions to Lembergs multiple times. He is making the process look like a farce – he keeps avoiding questions.»

As for the general situation surrounding Oligarch talks, Jurašs notes that the problem is that the people associated with talks, such as Ainārs Šlesers, Aivars Lembergs and Andris Šķēle did not discuss ways of making important decisions for Latvia’s sake, but rather dividing resources owned by the state among themselves. «Talks detail deep, personal material interests,» says the former KNAB investigator.

Jurašs calls this situation parasitism at the expense of the state and its residents. The aforementioned people only think of their personal interests and ignore public interests.

As for the situation with the parliamentary investigation committee, he says its activity shows Lembergs’ true influence over Latvia’s politics.

More here

GROWTH: Estonia to reform father benefits and leave

As Estonia continues to motivate fathers to engage more in child- care, the Estonian government has approved proposals for prolonging paternal benefits and reforming the the Baltic country’s parental leave and benefits system.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports citing the Estonian Minister for Social Protection Kaia Iva as stating: «An additional 30-day parental benefit for fathers is an extension of paternity leave in order to encourage fathers to care for their children. (..) They can receive parental benefits at the same time as the mothers or alone»

More here

FUTURE: 70 electric car recharge stations to be built in Latvia

70 electric car recharge stations are planned to be built in Latvia before the middle of 2018, as reported by Road Traffic Safety Directorate representative Rolands Rumba.

He notes that the electric car recharge station network project included a survey of potentially suitable locations along TEN-T roads and development of projects to ensure safe connection to power lines at locations chosen for recharge stations.

The first stage of the project includes the deployment of 30 recharge stations. Preparations for construction and connection to power lines have commenced. Another 40 stations are planned to be built in second stage in 2018. 80 more stations are planned to be built along regional roads between 2019 and 2020.

More here

OPINION: Lithuania‘s ruling Coalition, Social Democratic Party shaken up

The fate of Lithuania‘s ruling Coalition hung on a thin thread after the Social Democratic Party, the junior partner in it, decided to pull out from the political majority, although part of the senior-level SDP parliamentarians were against the move.

Among the big names who did not support the SDP deal with LFGU were Algirdas Sysas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs and Labour, and Rasa Budbergytė, vice-chairwoman of the Committee on European Affairs, have already submitted their resignations from the posts.

Now, whether or not the ruling coalition has the minimum majority of 71 votes in the 141-member parliament depends on how many Social Democrats support the coalition.

LFGU has 56 votes plus the vote of Pranckietis, who is formally not a member of the party’s group in the Seimas.

More here

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Sale of MTG’s business in Baltics to Providence concludes successfully

Wednesday, 18 October, marked the successful conclusion of the sale of Baltic assets owned by Swedish media concern Modern Times Group to Providence Equity Partners. From now on companies previously owned by MTG in Baltics will function as a single organization named All Media Baltics, as confirmed by the company’s manager Pierre Danon.

Estonian port company makes 29% more revenue in January-September

Estonian state port company Port of Tallinn has made the revenue in the amount of 99.1 million euros in the first nine months of 2017, which is a 29% increase compared to January-September in 2016.

42 gambling halls to be closed down in Riga in next five years

On Wednesday, 18 October, Riga City Council supported plans to close another 33 gambling halls in the city. With that, a total of 42 gambling halls will be liquidated in the next five year.

Latvia has the highest index of female CEOs among EU member states

The highest index of female CEOs among European Union member states belongs to Latvia – 47%. In total, only 33% of CEOs in EU were female last year, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Survey: more and more people take notice of benefits provided by EU membership

65% of Latvian residents believe the country’s membership in the European Union has brought tangible benefits. A similar opinion was voiced by 64% of residents of all EU member states in the Eurobarometer study performed by the European Parliament.

17 persons in need of international aid are relocated to Latvia from Turkey

On Tuesday, 17 October, seventeen individuals, including nine children, in need of international protection were relocated to Latvia from Turkey as part of EU resettlement programme, as confirmed by Latvian Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.

BATL: to avoid crisis in transit sector, government and Transport Ministry must act

Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ led Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council also supports Saeima’s National Economy Committee’s decision on the need for Transport Ministry to develop a long-term vision for the development of the country’s transit industry.

Psychologist: six-year-old children are not ready for school

«It is wrong to believe that the sooner a child starts going to school, the better their academic results will be. Reforms are performed aggressively, without asking pedagogues or other specialists for their opinion. We lack a comprehensive analysis of the current situation that would be based on studies, not international ratings,» says certified clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Jolanta Lamstere.

Klaipeda transport ticketing system to be installed by Estonian Ridango

In the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda, Estonian firm Ridango has been selected for installing its technology on public transport.

Policeman in Malta posts he's happy about killing of journalist Galizia

In Malta, where an investigative journalist has been killed this week, a police sergeant has posted on Facebook he felt happy about her death and has been suspended from office a day after.

Exchange indexes reach new records; oil prices increase as well

Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index reached new record-high values on Tuesday, 17 October. US dollar value before euro and Japanese yen increased.

Anti-corruption protesters in Ukraine push for reforms

Three protesters and a policeman have been injured in Kyiv, Ukraine, as a crowd of anti-corruption demonstrators voiced their demands for reforms aimed at tackling corruption in the country.

«Islamic state» capital conquered by Syrian Democratic Forces

An alliance of Syrian-Kurdish fighters, which is supported by the U.S., has stated it has gained full control of Raqqa, which has been for three years the centre of the «Islamic state» regime.

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.