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Monday 25.06.2018 | Name days: Maiga, Milija
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BNN summary of the week: is Unity’s fractured state over? Minister promises better healthcare

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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; Fight; Future; Decline; Promise, and Opinion.

CHANGE: Unity’s parliamentary faction picks a new chairman

Hosams Abu Meri has been picked as the new chairman of Unity political party’s faction in the Saeima. The previous head of the faction – Solvita Āboltiņa – has decided to put down her mandate as member of the parliament and instead return to diplomatic service.

Abu Meri was recommended for this post by the board of Unity to replace Āboltiņa. This decision was made on 6 November.

Full article here

FIGHT: Estonia in UN Jerusalem vote to ignore U.S. warning

Regardless of U.S. government’s warning urging countries that receive its financial support not to back a UN resolution on the contentious issue of Jerusalem in the Middle East Peace Process, Estonia would support decades-long policy of Jerusalem to be the capital of both Israel and Palestine.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports, citing Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser as stating on Thursday, December 21, that Estonia would go along with the position of the European Union concerning current matters in the Middle East, and that he wasn’t afraid of potential retaliation on the part of the U.S. government.

Full article here

FUTURE: Important 2017 decisions of the European Parliament that will affect your life

In 2017, the European Parliament approved and signed 74 new legislative acts associated with protection of the external border and security, trade agreements, energy security and cancellation of roaming, said Antonio Tajani, who was elected chairman of European Parliament in January 2017.

Full article here

BUSINESS: exports of Latvian food products up by more than 20%

Exports of Latvian food products industry has grown by more than 20% when compared with the previous year, says council chairperson of Latvian Federation of Food Companies (LFFC) Ināra Šure.

She said that 2017 was a positive year for food production. This especially applies to exports. «The most positive development for Latvia’s food production industry in 2017 was the export growth – by more than 20%,» said Šure, adding that Latvian food companies have been working tirelessly for years to explore new markets and secure results.

LFFC Council chairperson expressed hope that this year’s import/export balance in food production industry turns out positive. If this is achieved, it will be possible to say Latvia’s food industry has succeeded reorienting its focus from Russia to other countries.

Full article here

DECLINE: rail freight volume has dropped to fifteen-year minimum

In 2017, Latvijas dzelzceļš transported 43 million tonnes of cargoes, which is the lowest freight volume in the past fifteen years. On top of that, there are no preconditions for the cargo decline to stop. This means the lowest point has yet to be reached, says president of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics (BATL) Inga Antāne.

She mentions the seriousness of the situation in the industry and invites responsible ministry to act because unemployment already affects Latvia’s national economy. This is expected to affect not only people working in the industry but also all other residents.

BATL president says: «2017, as predicted, was the worst for the country’s railway freight in the past 15 years. Next year is expected to demonstrate an even more rapid decline even though in its letter to Saeima’s National Economy Committee, LDz mentioned that the expected volume for 2018 may reach 49 million tonnes. In the current situation, this is an impossible and utopian goal. No one can say that talks about a crisis in the transit industry are exaggerated. The crisis is here, and we will feel its consequences in 2018.»

The most realistic scenario for the situation’s stabilization is increasing freight volume with Belarus, where China has built a major logistics centre. Until now, we have not benefited from it much, because this centre has active cooperation established with Klaipeda port. For Latvia to attract cargoes from Belarus, the country has to do its homework and resolve problems that affect its competitiveness.

Full article here

PROMISE: Latvian Healthcare Minister promises to slash queues for healthcare services by half

With a major increase in funding it will be possible to reduce queues for healthcare services by half, Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša promised to Rīta panorama programme.

The politician says that 2017 has been a turning point for Latvia’s healthcare – the government has dramatically changed its views towards healthcare and has secured a nearly EUR 200 million increase for the healthcare budget.

As for the Healthcare Funding Law, Čakša mentioned that the proportion of residents that may end up without state-funded healthcare services is ‘very small’. From the perspective of the general division of services covered by the budget, the law is very loyal to Latvian residents. Still, it does motivate responsible payment of taxes, added the minister.

Full article here

OPINION: list of Lembergs’ committed crimes continues expanding

«During his rule in Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs performed so many illegal and criminal acts that investigation and judicial institutions still haven’t sorted things out,» said Ventspils City Council opposition member Valdis Kristovskis in an interview to BNN.

He says there is no doubt – during the period of Ventspils and state capture, Lembergs has managed to spend enough time imitating work in the interest of the city and society, whose portion of reasonably-minded people he calls ‘lumpen-proletariat’. «Something like that is only possible in conditions of a cult of personality. Unfortunately, there are people, whole parties, who do not seem all that worried about that,» says Kristovskis.

He notes that people are inspired by this approach. It eats away the country’s democracy and rule of law. «It is the duty of politicians to maintain standards and establish requirements, because if you’re not caught committing a crime does not mean a crime was not committed! Politicians have to oppose corruption and crime on a state level even if investigation and court processes require time. If politicians wait for crimes to be proven in court, then, I’m sorry, people like that should not work in state administration and act as people’s representatives,» said Kristovskis.

Full article here

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Week in Lithuania. Parliament makes first step towards disclosing ex-KGB agents

The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, June 21, backed an initiative by the opposition Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance to disclose now classified information on former agents of the Soviet KGB who voluntarily admitted their collaboration.

BNN summary of the week: CPCB visit to Saeima; ministers survive no-confidence votes; DTV case ends with mild penalties

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Ruling; Future; Trust; Measures; Calendar.

SRS uncovers numerous violations more than half of inspected companies

State Revenue Service’s Tax Control Office performed a total of 305 thematic inspections of employers in Latvia in Q1 2018. Authorities recorded violations in 171 inspections, according to information from SRS.

Third level pension plan deposit volumes reach new record value

Residents’ interest for pension savings remains high. The volume of deposits made to private pension funds in the first three months of 2018 has reached a new historic peak: a total of EUR 16.5 million has been paid to 3rd level pension accounts, which is 11.6% more when compared to the same period of 2017, as reported by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Petrol station network in Latvia caught performing fraudulent activities with diesel fuel

State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Police have uncovered and put an end to a fraudulent scheme with diesel fuel performed by some network of petrol stations in Latvia, as confirmed by the service.

Kaimiņš: I believe CPCB is performing a political order

In the evening of Thursday, 21 June, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau released three people previously detained as part of a criminal process regarding possible illegal funding of KPV LV party – Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš, his colleague Atis Zakatistovs, and businessman Viesturs Tamužs.

Latvia’s parliament conceptually supports new sanction regulations

On Thursday, 21 June, Saeima supported in the final reading amendments to the Law on International Sanctions and National Sanctions of the Republic of Latvia that are meant to improve sanction regime regulations to ensure efficient application of national and international sanctions, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Storm in Tallinn floods streets, cuts Croatia-Argentina match short on TV

A rain storm has hit northern Estonia on Thursday, flooding some streets in the capital Tallinn, damaged buildings and badly affected the broadcast of an interesting World Cup game.

American banks tested for financial stress show positive results

The U.S. has performed banking stress tests and found that the 35 largest banks operating in the country have enough funds on hand to sail safely through a severe financial crisis.

Saeima fires judge for coming to work in a drunken state

On Thursday, 21 June, Latvia’s parliament supported the proposal to dismiss Rezekne Court judge Arvis Garais from his post. 71 deputies voted in favour, no one abstained and no one voted against.

UK to have three requirements to EU citizens willing to remain in UK

For citizens of the European Union willing to continue living in the UK after the country leaves the bloc, they will have to submit applications and answer three key questions over the internet, according to the country's interior minister.

Weather in Latvia to be rainy and cool during Ligo; next week’s weather to be dry and hot

Weather at the end of the week in Latvia will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that, there will be instances of rain on Ligo. Weather is expected to improve next week, however, according to Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s blood plasma corruption scandal extends to Latvia

The former head of Lithuania‘s National Blood Centre, suspected of corruption and involvement in unlicenced activity, received more bad news this week from Latvia, where investigators of the Lithuanian Special Investigation Service had questioned the Latvian Health minister, Anda Čakša.

Administrative burden to be reduced for foreign students and researchers

The administrative burden will be reduced for foreign students and researchers, as well as all education and research institutions hosting them. This is provided by the amendments to the Immigration Law approved by the Saeima in the third reading on Thursday, 21 June.

Latvian Economy Minister endures no-confidence vote

Saeima declined opposition deputies’ request for dismissal of Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Swedbank economist becomes new member of Bank of Latvia Council

On Thursday, 21 June, Latvia’s Saeima approved Mārtiņš Kazāks in his new post as member of Bank of Latvia Council, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Pope Francis’ visit to Latvia will be a national holiday

Latvia’s parliament has approved in the final reading a law that makes 24 September – the day Pope Francis plans to visit Latvia – a national holiday.

ICT specialist numbers in Latvia are below Europe’s average level

In Latvia, information and communication technology specialists form only 2.2% of all employed people in the country, which is considerably below the average level in the European Union – 3.7%. Romania and Greece are the only two EU member states in which the number of ICT specialists is below Latvia’s, according to European Commission’s DESI index.

Hungary adopts prison sentence for helping migrants

Hungarian National Assembly has passed a set of laws criminalising with prison terms some help provided to illegal immigrants by non-governmental organisations.

Harmony plans turning to Constitutional Court to prevent transition to Latvian language in schools

«Why should this reform stay unrealized? It is because schools are not prepared for cardinal changes coming from dozens of other reforms that have already shocked the country’s entire general education system,» says chairman of National Minority School Parents Forum and member of Harmony’s work group in Konstantīns Čekušins.

Deputies detained in KPV LV criminal case not declared suspects yet

Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš and businessman Viesturs Tamužs detained in the criminal process regarding possibly illegal funding of KPV LV party have not yet been declared suspects. Both are currently in police custody. It is likely Kaimiņš will be released later today, 21 June.

Production of mines and grenades planned in Estonia

As the Estonian parliament has adopted new rules on military arms and ammunition production in the country, local defence firm Eesti Arsenal has voiced its plan to build a factory in Estonia to make military explosives.

Total tax debts in Latvia reached EUR 1.224 billion in June

At the beginning of June, total tax debts in Latvia, including topical, halted debts and extended repayment terms were equal to EUR 1.233 billion, which is 0.6% less compared to May, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Switch off internet nationwide during exams – Algerian approach

In an attempt to prevent cheating during secondary school exams, the north African nation Algeria, has turned off internet in its whole territory.

Control Service proposes kicking out shell companies as intensely as offshore companies

Shell companies in Latvia should be combated with the same intensity once shown to offshore companies, says chief of Anti-Money Laundering Service Ilze Znotiņa.

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