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Ceturtdiena 23.11.2017 | Name days: Zigfrīda, Zigrīda, Zigrīds

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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Polish shipbuilder accused of bribing Port of Tallinn management

A senior executive of Remontowa Shipbuilding, a Polish shipbuilding company, is facing accusations of handing large bribes to former senior figures Port of Tallinn, the Estonian state-owned port operator.

Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed head of Saeima’s National Security Committee

Unity member Inese Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed as the new head of Saeima’s National Security Committee, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Expert: real estate transaction volume this year may reach 100 million euros

The volume of commercial real estate transactions in Baltic States may exceed EUR 1 billion. Latvia, meanwhile, remains behind its neighbouring countries because the volume of transactions in the country may reach EUR 100 million, says CEO of Colliers International Deniss Kairāns.

Finnish medication prescriptions to be valid in Estonia

In Estonia, Finland's digital prescriptions of medications will be valid from summer 2018 and vice versa – from around mid-2019.

Talks commence on restoring ferry traffic between Ventspils and Saaremaa

On Wednesday, 22 November, a delegation from Saaremaa municipality arrived at Vetnspils Freeport to discuss with representatives of Ventspils municipality and freeport the proposal to restore ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Ventspils.

Family of killed Maltese journalist take police to court

The family of the killed Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has sued police believing that it does not perform an impartial investigation.

Saeima reduces VAT for vegetables, berries and fruits typical for Latvia

Starting 2018, a reduced VAT rate will be applied for fresh fruits, berries and vegetables in Latvia. This is provided by amendments approved by the Saeima on 22 November for Law on Value Added Tax.

Georgian anti-terrorist raid ends tragically

In the Georgian capital Tbilisi, security officers have conducted an anti-terrorist raid in an apartment, where a shoot-out has started and three suspected militants and a special forces' soldier have been killed.

Jerošenko: Ušakovs offers unhealthy policy, Harmony is used as Lembergs’ «satellite party»

«Cooperation between Harmony and Aivars Lembergs’ Union of Greens and Farmers has always existed. It existed even before Harmony first appeared in Riga City Council. The situation is the same in the Saeima, even though Concord is in the opposition. Still, in situations when one or the other matter important to Lembergs appears, one does not have to be a great politologist to notice the ties between those parties...

Bosnian Serb commander punished with life imprisonment for Srebrenica

The UN the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia handed a life imprisonment sentence to Ratko Mladić after it found the former commander of Bosnian Serb forces guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the 1990s during the Bosnian War.

EC positive about Latvia’s 2018 budget project

Based on the conclusion from the European Commission, Latvia’s budget project for 2018 fully fits conditions listed in the Stability and Growth Pact. In accordance with EC’s estimates, the structural balance of Latvia’s general budget is viewed at -1.8% of GDP. Government budget expenditures, on the other hand, are expected to grow by 7.1 percentage points.

Producer price level in Latvia declined 0.2% in October

Compared to September, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry dropped by 0.2 % in October 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market decreased by 0.5 %, while prices of exported products went up by 0.1 %.

Vaškevičs feels «harsh but fair» attitude from court justice system in Austria

Former deputy director of Latvia’s State Revenue Service Vladimirs Vaškevičs, who is accused of bribery and whose extradition from Austria has been a priority for Latvian authorities for some time now, says he feels «harsh but, thank God, fair» attitude from the Austrian court justice system.

Antāne: lost Russian cargoes have cost Latvia nearly 50 million in nine months

Latvia’s economy has lost nearly EUR 50 million in nine months because of missed Russian transit cargoes. While Russian Railway had approved 90% of oil and coal cargoes for transit through Ventspils port at the beginning of the year, this amount had declined to a mere 5% by September, says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne.

In pictures: Museum of painter, Holocaust survivor Bak opened in Vilnius

In Vilnius, a museum to Jewish-Polish painter Samuel Bak has been opened. During the occupation of Lithuania by the Nazi Germany, the artist survived the Holocaust in the country.

Ratio of old people and invalids on a rise among unemployed people

The total number of unemployed people has been decreasing in recent years. However, the ratio of old people and invalids continues increasing in the ranks of unemployed people. On top of that, the number of lasting unemployed people remains high and largely unchanged in the country.

Saaremaa looking into possible ferry traffic to Latvia

The local government of the largest Estonian island is looking into possible interest of five shipping companies in opening ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Latvia.

Balta: exhaustion and overload are the most common causes for accidents at work

More than EUR 20,000 has been paid in compensations for injuries acquired at work this year so far, according to information from insurance association Balta. Compared with the same period of last year, the number of accidents has grown 40%.

Estonian town tempts population to reregister with spa in Latvia and 100 euro payment

The town of Keila, located 25 kilometres away from Tallinn, has started a one-and-a-half month campaign to motivate its residents to register back in the town as many of them have registered in the Estonian capital, which grants free public transport to its population.

EU to impose fine to Poland if logging in Białowieża forest not stopped

The European Court of Justice has issued to Poland a 15-day deadline to provide proof that the country has fulfilled the court's ruling to quit logging in the ancient Białowieża forest threatening with a daily fine of 100 000 euros if it fails to prove this.

Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks: building restoration will be next year’s priority

Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks plans to focus on improving technical state of its managed buildings. The company plans to restore several dozen buildings next year and up to 100 buildings a year in the next five years, says RNP chairman Aivars Gontarevs.

LCB: even deputies should fulfil their promises

Latvijas ceļu būvētājs, which is an association in Latvia with ties to multiple road and bridge construction companies, invites deputies to support the proposal for the restoration of the State Road Fund, BNN was told by the association’s chairman Andris Bērziņš.

Russia rejects claims of nuclear accident despite radioactive cloud over France

Russia has stated that a nuclear accident has not taken place in its territory although its weather service has found high amounts of traces of a radioactive isotope.

Study: taxes for business in Latvia – the most attractive among Baltic States

Latvia’s tax system is the most attractive among Baltic States and 13th most attractive among 190 countries of the world, according to the latest study performed by the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers on tax systems around the world.

Turkish journalist punished with prison term for tweet

A court in Turkey has sentenced on Tuesday, November 21, a journalist from opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to three years behind bars over accusations of spreading terrorist propaganda in relation to a post on Twitter, which had been briefly on the microblogging site this spring.

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