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Friday 23.02.2018 | Name days: Haralds, Almants

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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SEB Bank: more employment options will open up and workers will become more selective

«It is becoming easier to change jobs nowadays. The largest selection of employment options are found in regional centres and cities, especially Riga and Pieriga. We see fewer employment options in regions even though there is still considerable demand for workers there,» predicts SEB Bank’s macroeconomics expert Dainis Gašpuitis.

ABLV Bank’s manager claims the bank is ready for cancellation of payment restrictions

ABLV Bank is ready for cancellation of payment restrictions, said the bank’s chairman Ernests Bernis during a press-conference on Thursday, 22 February.

62.9% of Latvia’s population was employed in 2017

Compared to the year before, in 2017 employment rate grew by 1.3 percentage points and number of employed persons by 1.5 thousand. Employment rate among men grew faster than among women – by 1.6 percentage points and 1.0 percentage points, respectively. 894.8 thousand people or 62.9 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in 2017.

Lithuania and Latvia: the tale between two sisters marked with rivalry

Relations between Lithuania and Latvia, two tight-knit Baltic neighbours, may exemplify a sisterly relationship from the first sight, but just over the course of a single week, several pings rang, signalling that rivalry is, and has always been, a component of coexistence.

Lembergs unable to organize his private life because of intense court proceedings

Lembergs unable to organize his private life because of intense court proceedings

Unemployment level in Latvia decreased to 8.7% in 2017

85.4 thousand people aged 15–74 in Latvia were unemployed in 2017. Compared to 2016, the number of unemployed persons has dropped by 9.9 thousand or 10.4 %.

Council member: ECB is openly dissatisfied with restrictions imposed on Rimšēvičs

The European Central Bank (ECB) is openly dissatisfied with restrictions imposed on one of its council members – governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, said council member of the Bank of Latvia Edvards Kušners in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Defence expenditures in Latvia planned at EUR 234 million in 2018

Latvian government plans to spend EUR 234 million on defence projects, including procurement of transports, ammunition, armaments and individual equipment, in 2018 as confirmed by Defence Ministry.

Ministry cancels mandatory procurement component permits for five CHP plants

Latvia’s Economy Ministry has made a decision to cancel the permit to sell electricity within mandatory procurement component for five other renewable energy co-generation plants plants: SIA Madonas Eko, SIA Eiro-Āzijas investment agency, SIA EVOKEM, SIA M Parks, and SIA Eco Latvis.

NSC proposes Maizītis for a second term as Chief of Constitution Protection Bureau

Members of Latvia’s National Security Council have decided to propose the current head of the Constitution Protection Bureau Jānis Maizītis for another term at the helm of this institution, as BNN was informed by the State President’s Chancellery.

Latvijas gāze’s subsidiary Gaso proposes reducing gas transmission price

Latvijas gāze’s subsidiary Gase has turned to Public Utilities Commission with a proposal for a new natural gas transmission system service’s tariff project, providing for a reducing gas transmission price by 18-46% for more than 95% gas consumers.

FCMC invites Bank of Latvia to provide ABLV Bank with yet another emergency loan

The Finance and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) has invited the Bank of Latvia to issue ABLV Bank another emergency loan.

Crime rate in 2017 was the lowest in Latvia’s history

Last year’s crime rate turned out the lowest in Latvia’s history, as reported by Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers in his annual report.

LEC: government priorities should include searching for causes and solutions, not the guilty

Latvian Employers’ Confederation (LEC) is worried about ongoing events and their negative effect on the stability and future development of the country’s economy. LEC believes that stabilization of the financial situation requires careful coordination of actions between institutions and the government.

Producer price level in Latvia grew 0.9% in January

Compared to December 2017, level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.9 % in January 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market went up by 1.2 % and prices of exported products by 0.6 %.

Latvian President believes country’s financial system is stable; prime minister plans to report to European Council

«Latvia’s financial system is stable, and there is no reason to worry about possible instability of the banking system. Banks continue working as usual,» says the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis.

Corruption Perception Index in Latvia experienced no major changes in 2017

Latvia’s positions did not improve much in Transparency International’s compiled Corruption Perception Index 2017, said Delna – Society for Openness acting director Liene Gātere in an interview to Rīta panorāma programme.

Latvian citizens arrested in Britain under suspicions of organizing slavery

Five people were arrested in a joint international operation by Latvian and British law enforcement operatives, as confirmed by Latvian State Police.

Opinion: Russia is trying to use the situation to create chaos in Latvia

Russia is trying to use the established situation to create chaos in Latvia. Efforts, however, are fated to fail, says chairman of Saeima’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee Ainars Latkovskis.

Dismissal requested for Latvia’s Finance Minister; parties worried about finance sector sinking deeper

Latvia’s Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola has failed to prevent the decision made by United States Department of the Treasury, which is ruinous for the country’s financial sector and humiliating for its reputation, says chairman of New Conservative Party Jānis Bordāns.

Defence Ministry: a massive information campaign is being realized against Latvia

Considering events of the last several days in the country’s banking sector and the arrest of the governor of the Bank of Latvia – Ilmārs Rimšēvičs – it is entirely possible that someone is currently realizing a massive information operation. Its structure and execution is not unlike the one observed in USA, France and Germany during the pre-election period, BNN was told by Latvia’s Defence Ministry.

Latvian parliament to search for ways to dismiss current Bank of Latvia governor

Members of Latvia’s Saeima plan to search for a solution in the matter regarding the possible dismissal of the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs.

Bank of Latvia governor: I have received death threats

«This situation is incredibly complicated. This situation is quite possibly the most complicated one I have ever been in. I feel a great deal of support from people I don’t know, as well as my friends and family members. I have decided to not back down – I am innocent. The the people attacking my reputation have only one goal in mind – to have me step down,» said the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs during a press conference on Tuesday, 20 February.

Proportion of people working in Latvia’s culture sector is larger than the average in EU

The number of people working in Latvia’s culture sector is equal to 4.5% of the total number of employed people in the country. This proportion is also larger than the average one across the European Union, according to data published by Eurostat.

Ministry: idea for compulsory secondary education should be put on hold for now

Considering that Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry has several ongoing industry reforms, it would be best to put the proposal for compulsory secondary education on hold, said Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis during a meeting of Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee.