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Sunday 18.03.2018 | Name days: Ilona, Adelīna

BNN summary of the week: inequality in Estonia; envelope wage war in Latvia, gas alternatives in Lithuania

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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: Decline; Growth; Fight; Business; Future and Opinion.

BUSINESS: there are three possible airBaltic investors in consideration

With the process to attract new investors for airBaltic coming closer to the finish line, three potential contenders are currently in consideration, said Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis in an interview to Rīta panorama.

Augulis says Lazard Freres continues searching for a new investor for the second consecutive year. The process has entered the final phase. There are three possible candidates, and the government should make its choice before the end of the year.

According to Augulis, all submitted offers are good and interesting, which will benefit society and the national economy. He did not say which countries those potential investors come from. He only said that they are from all over the world.

He reminds that the main criteria for evaluation of the investor include making sure airBaltic and Riga airport are able to continue developing.

The minister notes that there is no rush with airBaltic’s sale. If the government does not find any of the candidates satisfactory, the selection process will be continued.

Full article here

FIGHT: Ventspils opposition deputies ask Lembergs’ security measure to be amended

Ventspils City Council deputies Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Dace Korna, Aivis Landmanis and Ivars Landmanis have turned to Judge Boris Geimanis’ led judges with a request to amend the security measure applied to Aivars Lembergs.

Deputies note that Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes, openly ignores the restrictions imposed against him. «This is about the security measure that prohibits Lembergs from acting as the chairman of Ventspils City Council and Ventspils Freeport authority, which were applied in August 2007. The situation in which the accused Lembergs continues working in those posts is not just illogical and absurd, but also illegal,» says Kristovskis.

Deputies point out that application of the aforementioned security measure prohibits Lembergs from performing all duties as chairman of Ventspils City Council and Ventspils Freeport authority.

Opposition deputies of Ventspils City Council believe the security measure applied by the court is ineffective. This is why when asking the court to clarify or amend the security measure for Lembergs, they referenced the opinion provided to them in September by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, which stated that the current security measure applied to Lembergs is insufficient and should be reviewed.

With that, deputies have asked the court to decide on amending the security measure in accordance with Section 249 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Opposition members believe the court should prohibit the accused to take any managing post in Ventspils municipality. «Amending the security measure would help achieve the goal if it directly prohibited Lembergs to serve as chairman of Ventspils City Council and Ventspils Freeport authority until a ruling is reached in the criminal process he is involved in,» explains Kristovskis.

Full article here

DECLINE: economic inequality in Estonia is wider than ever before

The economy of Estonia is in its best condition, yet inequality in the society is greater than ever before, evaluated the head of Swedbank Eesti in a business conference.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Robert Kitt noted at the Rimi Business Conference on Wednesday, November 1: «Our economy is doing very well now — wages are growing, export is growing, and pension funds are doing fine. (..) But we have to acknowledge that inequality is also greater than ever before. We have people in Estonia who cannot cope in the present economic environment.»

Full article here

GROWTH: time to forget about non-traceability of envelope wages

Research performed and planned by Latvian State Revenue Service are a serious signal for the fact that it is time to forget about the illusion that no one will ever find out about people who are paid envelope wages, says SRS deputy director Dace Pelēka.

In order to continue following one of main priorities aimed at improving honest competition and reduction of grey economy, SRS has performed a large-scale data analysis and has calculated the level of tax debt in the country and separate sectors of the national economy. Calculations do not affirm the belief about envelope wage recipients and their employers, SRS notes.

«SRS has large volumes of data that help identifying taxpayers that pay envelope wages. By applying more and more modern analysis methods, SRS has begun tackling the existing tax non-payment problem. Data acquired from studies will help in the development of programmes based on taxpayers’ behaviour models to combat this problem,» Pelēka comments.

Finance Ministry’s Grey Economy Combating Coordination Department director Kārlis Ketners admits: «Large-scale and well-performed studies by SRS show that the service has improved and enhanced its analytical capacity. Data acquired from this study is very useful in the context of combating grey economy and will help us improve work with taxpayers in control, prevention and educational fields.»

Full article here

FUTURE: Lithuania to consider gas import alternatives after 2024

With Baltic States unable to reach an agreement in regards to the location of the regional liquefied natural gas terminal, Lithuanian government has lost the opportunity to ask for European Union’s support in purchasing Independence ship of Klaipeda terminal. The decision has been made to search for alternative solutions, BNS was told by Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas.

Klaipedos nafta has recently announced an international contest to searcg for natural gas import alternatives.

«This does not mean we have given up on buying the ship back. Our goal is securing competitive prices now and in the future. This is why, having assessed the situation in the region and the need for security for supplies, we wish to look for alternatives. We have to be certain if there would even be a need for a ship after 2024. Only then will we be able to consider other scenarios,» said the minister.

Lithuania’s lease of the floating gas storage facility ends in 2014. The contract was signed with Norwegian Hoegh LNG for ten years.

According to the minister, Lithuania hopes to receive several gas supply scenarios in the first quarter of 2018.

Full article here

OPINION: orphanages with even the prettiest walls will never replace a family

On Wednesday, 1 November, there was a large discussion organized during the ‘Child needs – ideals and reality in out-of-home care’ conference at Riga Castle on the topic of child needs in out-of-home care and the country’s realized de-institutionalization process.

The conference was attended by 400 out-of-home care professionals and decision-makers: Saeima and municipal deputies, state administration representatives, managers of municipal social services and orphan courts, heads of out-of-home care institutions and other specialists, and NGO organizations’ representatives.

When the discussion reached the topic of the necessary changes for children’s out-of-home care, First Lady of Latvia Iveta Vējone proposed always asking the same question first – what is best for the child? «Every child needs a family, a home and environment where they can grow with love and safety,» said Vējone, adding that orphanages will never be able to offer that, even with the prettiest of walls, the best of toys and the smallest groups. She proposed providing larger support to foster families, adopting parents and guardians, as well as making sure finances in foster families follow children, not institutions.

The First Lady also invited to learn from experience gained from SOS Child villages and family support centres.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania. Some 5,000 gather in protest rally outside Lithuania's Parliament

Some 5,000 people gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius on Thursday, March 15, to express discontent with the failed parliamentary vote to impeach MP Mindaugas Bastys and the performance of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

BNN summary of the week: oligarch talks’ ownership; scandals in Lithuania; Estonia wants direct democracy

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Scandals; Invitation; Fight; Opinion; Decline.

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Building gas pipe to Finland, Estonia to organise works for EUR 135 million

Continuing the works on the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Estonian natural gas network company Elering has stated that around 135 million euros, including a 98-million-euro funding from the European Union, will be invested in the project.

Replacement of cash registers rejected by SRS would cost half a million euros

The State Revenue Service has declined 18,000 cash registers as unfitting for requirements established by the Cabinet of Ministers. Fixing the problems found in them would cost half a million euros, as reported by LNT News.

Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee presented with protest restrictions on 16 March

Administrative District Court has compiled a shortened ruling, in which it rejected Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee’s application and preserved the decision imposed by Riga City acting CEO on 13 March 2018 on establishing restrictions on the planned gathering and protest act for 16 March unchanged.

U.S. introduces Russian sanctions for election meddling and cyber-attacks

Washington has introduced sanctions against 19 Russian individuals and five entities blaming them for attempts to sway the 2016 U.S. election and perceived cyber-attacks.

Slovakian PM Fico replaced with fellow party member

Slovakian head of government Robert Fico has stepped down after the murder of a journalist shed light on corruption in Slovakia, prompting nationwide protests. The long-standing Prime Minister had offered to resign earlier this week if the ruling coalition was allowed to finish its term.

Weekends will be cold and sunny in Latvia; next week will have volatile weather

Starting with Sunday, 18 March, air temperature in Latvia will rise above zero in most of the country, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s ruling LFGU party remains unscathed by scandals

It seems that, for now, Lithuania‘s ruling Farmers and Green Union has been nearly damage-proof despite the lambasting.

Latvian Civic Alliance: non-government sector should aim towards cooperation

Latvian Civic Alliance has invited the management of Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to meet to discuss ongoing cooperation between organizations representing the business sector and the NGO sector.

Saeima rejects National Alliance’s proposal to make 16 March an official remembrance day

Latvia’s Saeima has decided to reject the proposal submitted by the National Alliance on making 16 March an official remembrance day.

43.6% of Latvian households have difficulties with making ends meet

In 2017 the share of households admitting that pay for usual necessary expenses with difficulty or great difficulty constituted 43.6 %, which is 1.5 percentage points more than in 2016.

Saeima voices support for Rail Baltica project’s progression

On Thursday, 15 March, the Saeima made a decision to support Rail Baltica project’s progression. In its decision, the parliament invited Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers to provide all the necessary support for the project’s successful realization to ensure the project is realized in accordance with established terms and does not lose funding or support from the European Union, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Fast snow shovelling linked to cardiac fatalities, Finnish study finds

In Finish doctoral study, it has been concluded that snow should be shovelled calmly, not provoking stress and increased adrenaline in human blood that could lead to cardiac arrest.

Riga’s mayor spent at least eight million euros of residents’ money to promote himself

Over the course of the past three years, at least EUR 8 million of residents’ money has been used to promote the image of the Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs. This money was used to buy media, employ young members of Harmony, and finance ‘in-house protestors’ and using social networks, as estimated by Re:Baltica research journalism center.

Slovenia's head of government resigns amid protests and struggling railway investment

The Slovenian head of government Miro Cerar has stepped down from office in reaction to troubles with an expensive railway project and mounting opposition by trade unions.

NAF Commander: Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned

Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned, Commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces Leonīds Kalniņš told journalists after his meeting with Commander of Estonia’s Defence Forces Riho Terras.

Estonia's switch to free higher education proved right choice, says Ratas

The switch to free higher education made by Estonia in 2013 has proved to be the right choice for a small country, even though critics have pointed to potentially less motivated students, has stated the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

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