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Ceturtdiena 21.06.2018 | Name days: Monvīds, Egita, Emīls

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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Ukraine's anti-corruption court law insufficient to IMF commitments

The International Monetary Fund has commended the Ukrainian parliament for passing a law to establish an anti-corruption court and pointed to need to amend it to ensure the court can work effectively.

Opinion: they’re trying to shut us up; KPV LV is inconvenient for current government

«We are inconvenient for the current government, the established order, because for the first time a party is prepared to use facts in its rhetoric in the pre-election period. They are trying to shut us up,» said KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems at a press-conference after Artuss Kaimiņš was taken away by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Hydro and wind power plants produced 70.5% more electricity last year

In 2017 gross energy consumption in Latvia comprised 194.9 petajoules, which is 5.5 % more than in 2016. Over the past five years, the gross energy consumption has not changed significantly. However the share of renewable energy has increased by 2.55 percentage points.

Milder penalties for the accused in digital TV case; idea’s authors get no prison sentence

Riga Regional Court has released a shortened ruling in the so-called digital television criminal case. With it, the court acquitted previously convicted former director of Latvia’s National Theatre Ojārs Rubenis. Nevertheless, some of the accused have been sentenced to fines and actual prison time.

Estonian traitor Simm ruled to serve full 12.5 years in prison

A court in Tartu has decided that the Estonian Defence Ministry ex-official Herman Simm, found guilty of treason in 2009 and sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, has to serve his full sentence, not to be released earlier.

CPCB officers detain Kaimiņš after Saeima meeting

Officers of Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau detained Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš after the end of the parliament’s meeting.

Around 15% of Estonian 15-19-year-olds estimated to have mental illness

In Estonia, an estimated total of 20,000-40,000 adolescents, comprising 10-20% of all teenage Estonians, have been found to suffer from a mental illness and close to 3,000 children have been prescribed antidepressants.

Chief: Anti-Money Laundering Service should not submit to a single person

Anti-Money Laundering Service should not be controlled by a single person, says chief of the Control Service Ilze Znotiņa.

Saeima permits commencement of criminal process against Artuss Kaimiņš

This week Latvia’s Saeima voted in favour of the decision to detain and then perform a search in the home of Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš from KPV LV political party.

U.S. withdraws from UN Human Rights Council voicing sharp criticism

The U.S. has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the body as being politically biased and not working towards reducing human rights violations globally.

Latvian minister confirms interrogation by Lithuanian investigators

In the case regarding possible corruption in the National Blood Centre, Lithuanian services have interrogated Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša, as confirmed by the official.

Recreational use of marijuana legalised in Canada

Canadian Parliament has adopted a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide after medical use of the drug has been allowed since 2001. Canada is to become the second country in the world allow buying marijuana for recreational use.

Human Rights Committee: KGB documents should be made publicly accessible

Documents left from Latvian SSR KGB office are part of national document heritage and therefore should be handed over for lifetime storage and be made publicly accessible for research in Latvia’s National Archive.

Non-negotiated contracts; fictive deals: digital television introduction schemes for «mere mortals»

The criminal process revolving around digital television project’s realization in Latvia was launched 15 years ago – in 2003. And it began with a search in a company owned by Andris Šķēle. After that, the list of involved people started expanding with names like Andrejs Ēķis, Jurģis Liepnieks and others.

Doctors unjustifiably charged fees for services worth 255,000 last year

Last year, authorities found that medical institutions that provide state budget-financed healthcare services had charged fees for services worth EUR 254,994, according to data compiled by Health Inspectorate.

Budget Committee picks Swedbank economist for Bank of Latvia Council

On Tuesday, 19 June, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously decided to submit to the Saeima a decision project regarding approval of Mārtiņš Kazāks for the post of member of the council of the Bank of Latvia, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Farmers Saeima proposes declaring state of emergency in Latvia’s agriculture sector

Farmers Saeima association has sent a letter to Latvia’s State Chancellery, Agriculture Ministry, Finance Ministry and Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, detailing a request addressed to the Cabinet of Ministers and Saeima to declare a state of emergency in the country’s agriculture sector because of the lasting drought.

IT specialist’s lawyers appeal client's arrest in recent restaurant case

Lawyers of Edgars Štrombergs, who is the accused party in the Vairāk saules restaurant cash register data manipulation case, have appealed the security measure applied to him, as confirmed by sworn attorney Mareks Halturins.

Russian and Belarusian arms control experts hosted by Lithuania

Russian and Belarusian arms control inspectors have been hosted by Lithuania as NATO forces trained across the Baltic states and Poland in exercise Saber Strike 2018.

Latvia’s ports suffer freight volume decline in first five months of 2018

Latvian ports handled 27.072 million tonnes of freight in the first five months of this year, which is 7.5% less when compared to the same period of last year, according to data compiled by Transport Ministry.

Bicycle rickshaws in Tallinn will need safety belts from July

Seeking to regulate the provision of bicycle rickshaw services in the Estonian capital, the Tallinn City Council has is to more particular bicycle rickshaw regulations that would align the services closer to car taxis.

158 election sites to open in Riga during next Saeima elections

A total of 158 election sites are planned to be opened in Riga for this autumn’s Saeima elections, as confirmed by documents prepared by Riga City Council.

30% of Latvian residents are dissatisfied with their family’s financial state

Residents’ overall mood has declined considerably across all survey positions. Residents have become the most negative about Latvia’s economic situation – 31% of them believe it has worsened. When asked to voice their outlooks for Latvia’s economy in a year from now, 17% of respondents said it will have improved, according to results of Baltic International Bank’s latest Latvian Barometer.

Apple fined 5 million euros for customer rights violations in Australia

A court in Australia has ruled that U.S. tech firm Apple has to pay a fine of 5.7 million euros refusing to repair iPhones and iPads that had been serviced by third parties as those actions breached consumer law.

Latvian coalition still torn about attracting highly-qualified guest workers

Because of differences in opinions among ministries, Latvia’s government is unlikely to support and view the proposal to ease the issue of EU blue card to highly-qualified guest workers without appropriate higher education, says Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.