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Sunday 22.04.2018 | Name days: Armanda, Armands
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BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s healthcare problems; Syrian crisis; more restrictions for shell companies

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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; Decline; Fight; Risks; Opinion; Growth and Proposal.

CHANGE: Five of Latvian Healthcare Ministry’s institutions to be reorganized

To form an optimal structure of institutions managed by Healthcare Ministry, Latvian government plans to perform their reorganization. This will help review the main functions performed by those institutions, improve administration of healthcare services, health data analysis, as well as provide support to healthcare institutions in patient security affairs.

The main changes are planned in relation to organization of strategic procurements, data analysis capacity, monitoring functions and organization of a quality healthcare process.

Reorganization is expected to ensure that use of state budget funds in healthcare is performed by one institution – National Health Service. The State Labour Inspectorate will take over decision-making processes in relation to payment of compensations from the Treatment Risk Fund.

Disease Prevention and Control Centre will be developed as a methodical support institution for medical institutions for treatment quality and patient safety affairs. Because treatment quality and patient safety are closely dependent on clinical guidelines, clinical algorithms, and indexes to provide the full spectrum of support, it is planned to delegate clinical guideline evaluation and registration functions to Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Full article here

DECLINE: Future US Secretary of State says there is no longer any tolerance towards Russia

Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency Michael Pompeo, who has been picked by US President Donald Trump for the post of US Secretary of State, promised to members of the Senate to impose a tougher policy against Russia if he is appointed in this post.

In March 2018, Trump dismissed the Rex Tillerson from the post of US Secretary of State. The president announced his plan to appoint Pompeo in this post. On Thursday, 12 April, Pompeo is to stand before the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee to get its approval.

«Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy toward that aggression. That’s now over,» Pompeo wrote in his notes.

In regards to the Iranian matter, the former US army officer, congressman, and the head of CIA for fourteen months, said that he and Trump are prepared to correct the nuclear treaty to prevent its largest flaws.

Full article here

FIGHT: problems in Latvia’s healthcare – systematic negligence or lack of money?

«The fact that Latvia’s healthcare system is suffering from major problems is nothing new. It seems the recent reform will be nothing more than a small patch for a large, sinking ship. The fact that Healthcare Ministry remains unable to replace some piece of equipment that is vital for the survival of cancer patients is less the fault of insufficient funding and more the fault of poor planning. But even a lack of simple directions in Latvia’s leading clinical university hospitals is a sign of negligence that shows administration’s true attitude towards patients,» says Latvian Association of Regions faction leader Nellija Kleinberga.

She says that members of the party’s parliamentary faction often receive complaints from residents regarding poor directions to the Emergency Medical Assistance Centre at P.Stradins Clinical University Hospital. To check information reported by residents, LAR members visited the hospital. Conclusions are rather harsh, the party says.

Full article here

RISKS: activities of Russian security services present the largest threat to Latvia

Activities of Russian intelligence and security services present the largest threat to Latvia’s interests, according to the 2017 report of the Constitution Protection Bureau.

In it, the bureau mentions that Russian intelligence services work under cover of diplomatic services or from Russia’s territory. Interests of those services cover a wide range of matters: Latvia’s security policy, defensive capabilities and military sector are some of the priorities for Russian reconnaissance services, the bureau reports.

One positive aspect mentioned in the report states that the ability of western nations and Latvia’s society to recognize and critically assess Russian propaganda and influence from activities organized by pro-Russian organizations. This is important because Russia keeps developing complex influence operations, where cyber capabilities play a major role. One such practice is release of false news and use of cyber-attacks.

Full article here

OPINION: Syrian conflict has put the world on the brink of a major crisis

The increased tension between Russia and the West, represented by France, USA and Britain, has reached the lowest point because of the Syrian crisis ever since problems had first emerged in the region. Because of that, the world stands on the brink of a major crisis, says member of the European Parliament Artis Pabriks.

As explained by the MEPs assistant Inga Tauriņa, Pabriks is confident that increased tension outlines a deep international security and political crisis that echoes in the world. According to him, NATO and western nations should be decisive and unified to make sure this tension does not result in an armed conflict.

«This is an unequivocal warning – every country should be prepared to act in a situation of an international crisis. It is also a signal for the democratic world to consolidate. Even Latvian politicians should think about working towards common goals and successfully defending their interest in internationally complicated conditions. Now is the time when leadership is critically important,» said Pabriks.

He says the conflict is not unlike the Cuban missile crisis. There is room to turn the situation around. Unfortunately, Germany – the largest EU member state – so far has refrained from taking a side, which outlines EU’s weakness.

Full article here

GROWTH: Around 20,000 Latvian businesses will have to cease working with shell companies

Approximately 20,000 Latvian businesses will have to cease working with shell companies, said Lursoft board member Daiga Kiopa in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

She mentioned that society has a misconception that new amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing intended to strengthen the country’s financial system will only on Latvia’s banking sector. «Amendments will not apply solely to the banking sector – they will apply to companies like tax consultants, law firms, accountancy service providers and others. Approximately 20,000 companies in total,» said Kiopa, adding that these companies will have to sort their client base and cease cooperation with shell companies.

Lursoft board member reminded that the law includes three definitions of a shell company. According to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, a shell company is a legal person that fits one or three factors. Firstly – this legal person has no relation to actual business operations. Secondly, a legal person is considered a shell company if legislation of the country where it is located does not require businesses to submit financial accounts to state monitoring institutions. Thirdly, a company is considered a shell company if the legal person has no official address in the country where it is registered.

According to Kiopa, the first sign is the hardest one to determine.

Full article here

PROPOSAL: Latvian government conceptually supports making Lāčplēsis Day a holiday

On Tuesday, 10 April, Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee conceptually supported amendments to the Law on Holidays, Memorable Days and Celebrations that provide for making 11 November – Lāčplēsis Day – a holiday, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Lāčplēsis Day is among commemorative and celebrated days in Latvia. Amendments, on the other hand, provide making 11 November an official holiday. If 11 November falls on Saturday or Sunday, however, it will not be compensated with an additional holiday.

The majority of representatives from different ministries voiced support in favour of this legislative draft. Representatives of economy and finance ministries pointed to the influence of amendments on tax revenue and GDP. In the event of approval of said amendments, they proposed reviewing the number of existing holidays.

Full article here


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BNN summary of the week: prime minister without solutions; birth rates down; organic food rules

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Growth; Business; Assessment; Fight; Future.

Economy Ministry: producer prices will affect dynamics of raw material prices

Producer prices in industry will grow in 2018 similarly as they had in 2017. Producer price level is largely affected by fluctuations of raw material prices in the world, as noted by Latvia’s Economy Ministry.

PUC: Gaso’s separation from Latvijas Gāze was legal

After examining documents submitted by the transmission system’s operator, the Public Utilities Commission concluded that activities performed by AS Gaso as part of reorganization of Latvijas Gāze were sufficient to ensure compliance with requirements for independence, as reported by PUC representatives.

Industrial producer prices in Latvia up 3.5%

Compared to February, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 0.2 % in March 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.1 %, but prices of exported products went up by 0.4 %.

Municipality: after meeting in summer, British Steel refused to buy KVV Liepājas metalurgs

After the meeting that took place at the end of August 2017, British Steel, which had previously voiced an interest in KVV Liepājas metalurgs, refused to purchase the bankrupt company, says Liepaja City Council chairman’s advisor for public relations matters Andrejs Rjabcevs.

SRS determines Latvian officials with the largest salaries

Thanks to real estate transactions Prison Administration Chief Ilona Spure and Healthcare Minster Anda Čakša had the largest income among state officials in 2017. The holder of the largest wage among state officials remains the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, according to information compiled by the State Revenue Service.

Total tax debts in Latvia – EUR 1.255 billion

At the beginning of April total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding, halted and payment extensions, was EUR 1.255 billion, which is 3.2% lower than the previous month.

Eight-year-long Latvian-Russian state border demarcation process concludes

Latvian-Russian state border demarcation documents have come to force. 21 April 2018 marked the conclusion of the two countries’ joint border demarcation process that lasted eight years, as reported by Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s press-centre.

Prosecutor general turns to Constitutional Court against MPC regulations

Latvia’s Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers has submitted a case to the Constitutional Court about the non-compliance of the mandatory procurement component with the country’s Constitution.

Unity may become New Unity; Kariņš may become prime minister candidate

Unity may start in upcoming Saeima elections with a new name – New Unity. The party may pick MEP Krišjānis Kariņš as its prime minister candidate, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

France to fine for naming veggie foods in meat terms

In France, vegetable-based products such as soya steaks or vegetarian sausages marketed as meat substitutes are to be banned in France for misleading consumers as it will be prohibited for food producers to use any meat terms to label products that do not contain meat.

Breach intensity on a rise near Latvia’s state border

Two groups of Vietnamese citizens were caught in an illegal attempt to cross Latvia’s border and multiple cigarette-smuggling attempts were thwarted by authorities in April, as reported by Latvia’s State Border Guard.

Latvia downgraded in openness of civic space rating

Citing Latvian laws as showing less respect fundamental freedoms since 2017, CIVICUS, the international organisation promoting and monitoring civil society and citizen participation in democracies, has downgraded the rating of the openness of the civic space in Latvia from «Open» to «Narrowed».

Authorities to check Riga City Council member Frolovs’ possibly fictive employment in Getliņi Eko

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has commenced an inspection following Riga City Council deputy Juta Strīķe. In it, she detailed concerns about the possible fictive employment of city council deputy Vladimirs Frolovs in Getliņi Eko.

Jekabpils Council divides a pie, not duties; will the management change?

Disputes have commenced amidst the ranks of members of Jekabpils City Council – coalition member Kristīne Ozola from the National Alliance says behaviour of the city council’s management made her change her mind in regards to supporting the ruling coalition.

U.S. urges Moscow to address election, chemical weapons' and Ukraine issues

The United States government has asked the Kremlin to act on U.S. concerns on election meddling, the Salisbury chemical attack in UK, as well as the military developments in Ukraine and Syria.

Latvijas Krājbanka’s administrator recovered EUR 114,800 in March

The administrator of the liquidated Latvijas Krājbanka EUR 114,823 in March, which is 16.9% less than a month ago, according to the report published in Latvian Herald.

Basque militants ETA apologise to killed and injured readying for dissolution

ETA, the Basque military organisation that has fought for the establishment of an independent country in northern Spain and south-western France for 50 years, has apologised for causing harm to victims of its campaign.

Every second resident in Latvia has a loan, and every third – a missed payment

Last year, the number of private person loans had increased nearly 10%, according to the Credit Information Bureau’s data exchange system. Currently this institution’s data archive contains entries for 899 thousand assets in private persons’ contracts. 290 thousand private persons have missed some of their payments.

State Secretary: Latvia and China share good economic cooperation perspectives

To present topical issues of Latvian-Chinese economic cooperation to businessmen, as well as contribute to formation of new business contacts, officials have launched the Latvia-Ningbo Economic & Trade Cooperation Symposium, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Wet summer boosted air travel via Tallinn Airport

In Estonian passenger aviation, a considerable 19% growth has been observed by the Tallinn Airport in 2017, which has explained the increase in passenger numbers partly with unusually bad weather conditions.

ABLV Bank urges FinCEN to withdraw «exaggerated accusations»

Lawyers of ABLV Bank, which is currently in the process of self-liquidating, urge US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to withdraw its published proposal, which details how ABLV Bank’s management had allegedly used bribes to influence Latvian officials and breach sanctions against North Korea.

Stoltenberg: NATO has no plans to boost military presence in Baltic States

NATO does not plan to increase its presence in Baltic States, which have requested additional aid against Russia’s potential aggression, as announced by the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Mass evacuation in Berlin to defuse 500 kg bomb

In Berlin, after an unexploded bomb weighing 500 kg has been discovered, part of the German capital is being evacuated on Friday, April 20, in order to defuse the World War II weapon.

Friday will be warm and sunny in Latvia; weather to become cold and rainy later

Friday will be warm in Latvia, but weather will change on Saturday and Sunday – wind speed will increase and air temperature will drop. A wide low atmospheric pressure area above Northern Europe will be dictating weather next week. This means there will be more rain in Latvia, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

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