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Ceturtdiena 14.12.2017 | Name days: Gaisma, Auseklis

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.

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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.

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FM mentions progress in combating grey economy; prime minister expects more

Latvia will continue combating grey economy in construction field and fight envelope wages, said Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola during the ministry’s Taxpayer Forum 2017 organized by the ministry on Wednesday, 13 December.

EP agrees to EU moving on to phase II of Brexit talks

Members of the European Parliament have overwhelmingly supported what has been negotiated upon in the joint EU-UK progress report in Brexit talks and have recommended Brussels to move on to phase two negotiations on the future relations of the parties.

Businessmen share stories: ‘surviving’ and taking risks in Latvia when starting a business

The silent period – the time for Christmas wishes – has begun. Snow covers Tukums, and the city slowly becomes white. Everything is quiet at Pils ielā. The phone rings, interrupting a quiet moment of watching snowflakes fall under the light of a lantern. «You’re here for us, aren’t you?» BNN goes to interview manager of Merci Cafe Anija Rabkeviča (23) and cafe’s founder Rinalds Pluģis (22). They tell about their experience of ‘surviving’ in Latvia.

BATL: Transport Ministry plans to increase burden on taxpayers’ shoulders

Latvian Transport Ministry’s developed development plan for the transit industry, which was presented to Saeima’s National Economy Committee this week, states that raising competitiveness in the country requires subsidizing railway cargo transports.

Croat soldier dies in Lithuania barracks

A soldier from the Croat contingent in Lithuania, who served in the Rukla military town as part of NATO international forces, has passed away.

LMP President: proposal for LMT and Lattelecom merge was only politically discussed

Only political discussions were held proposal on the merge between Latvijas Mobilais Telefons and Lattelecom, and it is good that this matter has been taken off the agenda, said LMT President Juris Binde in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LNT.

Survey: 55% of employed people are not paid for overtime

More than half of employed people work overtime. On top of that, 55% of them are not paid for working overtime and 45% are paid, according to results of a survey performed by CV Market.

Estonian military receives anti-tank missiles, bought with U.S. funding

The Estonian military has acquired another lot of missiles for the American-made man-portable Javelin antitank system bought with U.S. money allocated for supporting European defence measures.

Tallinners can claim millions for overpriced water, says competition watchdog

In the Estonian capital, the result of a legal dispute between water utility company Tallinna Vesi and the Estonian Competition Authority is that consumers are considered to be able to claim tens of millions of euros in compensation for overcharged water tariffs that have been in place for a number of years.

Latvian Association of Regions decides against working with For Latvia’s Development political party

It was decided at a meeting of representatives of Latvian Association of Regions (LAR) that the party will not work with For Latvia’s Development. The party has also decided to start in 13th Saeima elections with its own list of candidates.

Italy in state of emergency after fire at Austria gas hub

Italy has declared a state of emergency in its natural gas sector as a large explosion at a major natural gas hub in Austria killed one person, injured at least 18 and is prone to affect supplies in central Europe.

LEC: more expensive MPC is a serious burden for international competition

«To maintain GDP growth rate, the government should address priority matters like prevention of mandatory procurement component costs and electricity price rise to reduce costs for both businesses and residents. It is very important for employers to have the energy policy closely tied with production, because processing industry is the main driving force behind development of Latvia’s national economy,» says Latvian Employers’ Confederation (LEC) Director General Līga Meņģelsone.

Pilots of Ryanair expected to strike prior to Christmas

The clients of Irish low-fare airline Ryanair will face inconvenience before Christmas as pilots and crew announced industrial action seeking to achieve union recognition and better conditions in the company, which is criticised by unions that it fails to offer pilots the same pay and conditions as its rivals.

Corruption in public sector remains a major problem in Latvia

Money laundering activities and grey economy are in decline in Latvia. However, corruption in the country’s public sector and smuggling activities remain serious problems for the national economy, as noted in the report on unaudited economy, corruption in the public sector and money laundering activities in Latvia published by Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, 12 December.

Saakashvili released from detention in Ukraine

Former Georgian President, now opposition activist in Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been released from arrest by a judge, who denied a request from prosecutors to subject him to house arrest, but the case against him continues.

Justice Minister: Latvia will continue supporting Macedonia’s judicial sector

Latvia’s Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs has met with his Macedonian colleague Bilen Saliji, who arrived in Latvia to sign the Memorandum for Cooperation between Latvian Justice Ministry and Macedonian Justice Ministry.

Survey: 65% of Latvian travellers avoid regions at risk of terrorist attacks

The majority or 65% of Latvian respondents mentioned that whenever they make travel arrangements, they try to avoid regions in which there is a high probability of terrorist attacks or natural catastrophes, according to the latest Latvia Tours Travel Index.

Ex-Interior Ministry’s state secretary offered becoming a candidate to manage Eastern Hospital

The only offer extended to the now former state secretary of Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry Ilze Pētersone-Godmane to help her stay in state administration was the offer to become a candidate for the most of head of Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Ministry’s parliamentary secretary emphasizes EU’s unity in the Middle East process

«Latvia continues supporting the solution that can be achieved through direct talks between Israel and Palestine with compliance of interests of both sides and making Jerusalem the capital of both countries. The European Union has to remain a reliable partner for Israel and Palestine. We have to continue the open dialogue with both sides and ensure EU’s unity in the Middle East peace process,» says Latvian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica.

Estonian entrepreneur in Russia convicted to 12 years in prison

A court in Russia has convicted an Estonian aviation technology entrepreneur to a 12-year prison term in a high-security prison, Russian media report.

Countryside tourism may be threatened by unfair competition

Countryside tourism businesses are threatened by unfair competition and growing bureaucracy, as emphasized by Latvian Countryside Tourism Association Lauku ceļotājs after discussing this season’s results at four regional business seminars.

Estonia fights marginalisation pushing for relocation of 13 institutions to regions

As Estonia seeks to relocate part of government agencies out of the capital Tallinn, Estonian government ministers have been reminded that by the middle of January an action plan is required from them on the relocation of the central offices of 13 Estonian state institutions.

Finance Ministry: exports of goods reached a new record in October

The volume of exports continued growing in November, reaching EUR 1,070,600 at the end of the month and setting a new record for exports for one month’s time. This export index is the highest in the history of statistical records in Latvia, Finance Ministry stated in its report, commenting on data from the Central Statistical Bureau.

Heavy snow in Western Europe causes transport troubles

Heavy snow in Benelux countries, as well as in Germany and the UK has prompted hundreds of flight cancellations, while car accidents have caused traffic jams on roads.

Amnesty International: EU governments know about migrant torture in Libya

Governments of European Union member states are aware of torture and abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya, Amnesty International has stated, insisting that trying to reduce migration, the EU is actively financially supporting a «system of abuse and exploitation» on the Mediterranean coast of Libya.

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