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Monday 22.01.2018 | Name days: Austris
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BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s tax reform progress and gas pipeline project fights

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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; Future; Truth and Growth.

CHANGE: Coalition parties close to making final decision with tax reform; no more obstacles

Coalition parties no longer have any more differences of opinions in regards to tax reform principles. Parties are close to making the final decision, said Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens after the meeting with Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.

Unity member Ints Dalderis has confirmed that coalition parties seem to have found common ground in regards to the tax reform. Nevertheless, the Unity member refrained from giving any specific numbers, saying that Finance Ministry still has calculations to perform. The final decision will be presented by Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis on Monday, 26 June.

The coalition is close to reaching an agreement on greater progressiveness of PIT than initially planned.

Full article here

FIGHT: Latvian government asked to compensate profits lost from rejecting Nord Stream 2

Considering the stance of the Latvian Republic in relation to Nord Stream 2 project, in which the Cabinet of Ministers decided not to permit the participation of Ventspils Freeport, Noord Natie Ventspils Terminal and Baltic Express have decided to ask the government to compensate lost profits. An official request has been submitted to the prime ministers.

It is mentioned in the two companies’ statement that the government had asked the economy minister, transport minister, environmental protection and regional development minister and finance minister to ensure that state representatives appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers to the management board of Ventspils Freeport to vote against any possible involvement of the freeport in Nord Stream 2, which in turn resulted in the rejection of cooperation between Ventspils Freeport and Nord Stream 2.

Full article here

DECLINE: local media in Daugavpils are corrupt

«Now that we constantly face new and more elaborate security risks, concerns tend to increase about the fight for people’s minds in the information space. This is why the bar for professional journalists should be held high. Baltic Centre for Media Excellence plays an important role in all this,» said chairman of Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee Ojars Eriks Kalnins after the meeting.

Saeima’s press-service reports that the director of the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence Rita Rudusa was invited to the meeting to report on the centre’s work

Rudusa told deputies that Latvia does not have legislative measures to combat fake news and corrupt media. Changes have to be added there, said the centre’s director, adding that media serve as an important aspect for state security.

«The situation for Latvian media is nothing short of critical in Daugavpils – local media are corrupt, their content is openly sold, and the buyer comes from Russia. What is particularly worrying is that Latvian content often does not reach residents in Daugavpils,» says Rudusa.

Full article here

TRUTH: Lembergs has not been able to perform his duties a long time

After yesterday, when Aivars Lembergs was once again re-elected as mayor of Ventspils, Aivis Landmanis says that «experience shows we have spent ten years working with a chairman who has not been able to perform his duties all this time».

Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes, was re-elected in his post with nine out of thirteen votes. The remaining four votes were given to Girts Valdis Kristovskis, who represents the joint list of Unity, National Alliance and Latvian Association of Regions.

After the vote, Ventspils City Council deputy Aivis Landmanis mentioned the security measure applied to Lembergs – the prohibition to perform duties as chairman of the city council.

«Experience shows that we have spent the last ten years working with a chairman who has not been able to perform his duties all this time. As far as I’m aware, restrictions are still in place. Should we really entrust such duties to a person who has not been able to work in full capacity in the past and will remain unable to do that for an indefinite amount of time?» Landmanis rhetorically asks, urging For Latvia and Ventspils to propose a different candidate.

Full article here

GROWTH: Amendments to street trading approved to combat grey economy in Latvia

To reduce grey economy in agricultural and food products trading, the Cabinet of Ministers on Monday, 19 June, approved Economy Ministry’s amendments to Cab. Req. for the organization of trade at markets and street vending.

To help remove dishonest traders from the market, the government has decided to establish additional rights for trade organizers and market managers. The ministry’s statement mentions several points:

The rights to allocate territory to a trader on the market territory are to be provided if the trader complies with all conditions and performs honest business activities;

Full article here

FUTURE: Latvia wishes to change its state president’s election process

Reviewing proposals to change the state president’s election process, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee decided to submit proposals developed by the work group to different Saeima factions for review, as BNN was informed by Saeima’s press-service.

«We intend to ask factions to provide feedback on the proposed changes to the state president’s election process. This is important for the committee to know even before developing the legislative draft which proposals are sure to receive majority of votes to be able to change the Constitution,» says chairman of Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee Gaidis Berzins.

Full article here

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Latvenergo: Latvia is the largest energy exporter in Baltic States

Latvia continues exporting electrical energy produced in the country – as of Monday, 22 January, it was 832 MW. Especially intensive energy production is recorded for Daugava’s hydro-electric power plants and Riga’s CHP plants. The largest import volume is registered for Lithuania, to which the amount of exported energy equals the amount consumed in Latvia, Latvenergo explains.

LALRG secretary general: we have to reduce gap in quality of life for EU citizens

Ever since Latvia joined the European Union, its population has declined 14%. The most significant decline was caused by the departure of residents of working age to other EU member states. Because of that, the population in eastern regions of Latvia has declined 23%.

Czechs up for close race in this week's presidential run-off

As the Czech Republic nears the second round of its presidential election this weekend, sociologists estimate that the pro-Western academic Jiří Drahoš enjoys a somewhat larger support than the incumbent Miloš Zeman, who easily won the first round.

Producer price level in Latvia’s industry up 3.1%

Compared to December 2016, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 3.1 % in December 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 3.0 %, while prices of exported products went up by 3.3 %. Prices of products exported to euro area countries grew by 3.8 %, whereas prices of products exported to non-euro area countries rose by 2.9 %.

MEP: an even greater UGF dominance would slow down Latvia’s development

If the Union of Greens and Farmers (UGF) gains an even greater presence in the upcoming Saeima elections, Latvia’s continued development would suffer, said member of the European Parliament Artis Pabriks in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Tax reform challenge in January: labour tax recalculation

2018 commenced for Latvia with a historical tax reform and conceptual changes, significantly affecting everyday work performed by businessmen, employers and accountants. One of the changes financial specialists have to remember when calculating wages for January is the one for personal income tax, which also includes changes for state social insurance fees and solidarity tax, BNN was told by accounting experts.

Total tax debts in Latvia reach 1.217 billion euros at beginning of 2018

At the beginning of the year, total tax debts in Latvia, including existing debts, halted debts and debts with extended repayment debts, reached EUR 1.217 billion, which is 3% less when compared with the previous month, as reported by the State Revenue Service.

Estonia emphasises animal welfare as demand for animal food products grows

Although the demand for food products from animals is increasing, attention should be paid both animal welfare and sustainability in agriculture, Estonia's Minister for Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm has stated.

Latvia hopes to recover its status as a country free of swine fever

There is hope that Latvia may yet recover its status of a country free of swine fever, says Food and Veterinary Service’s (FVS) Animal Infections Monitoring Department lead expert Mārtiņš Seržants.

Estonia prepares to inform population of actions in case of emergency or war

Estonia is preparing a brochure on how its population should act in case of major crisis or war.

De Facto: international lawsuit against Latvia is associated with infamous Winergy case

Norvik Bank’s lawsuit against Latvian state in the international court of arbitration in Washington is associated with Winergy wind park business, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. The bank has yet to announce the amount of money it wishes to enforce from the state

German Social Democrats vote to U-turn on coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives

In Germany, where four months after its federal parliamentary elections there is still no government, the Social Democrats have voted to enter coalition talks with the conservatives led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Weather in Latvia to become warmer this week; thaw to settle in

Weather in Latvia will be dictated by an anticyclone at the beginning of the week. Precipitation is only expected in some areas, mostly in the north. The sky will be cloudy for the most part. Still some sun is expected every now and then, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Turkey crosses into Syria to attack Kurdish militia

Turkey's ground forces have entered the territory of neighbouring Syria strengthening Ankara's offensive to push Kurdish militia, considered to be terrorists by Turkey, away from the border.

Week in Lithuania. Fake news on Lithuanian Defence Minister planted on news portal

The Tv3. lt news website was hacked on Thursday, January 18 - a fake news story about Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis was posted claiming that Karoblis allegedly harassed Ridas Jasiulionis, a journalist at the Žinių Radijas radio station, and admitted being gay.

BNN summary of the week: final report on Oligarchs case and ordered attacks on e-health

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Attack; Growth; Decline; Opinion; and Study.

Economist: the most important reform has to happen in people’s heads

«Of all the clever things taught to us in school about psychology, one thing that has stuck with me over the years is the idea of internal/external control point. There are people who believe they make their own fate. There are also people who believe our fate depends on external powers. I suspect people in Latvia explain successes and failures with external factors much more than people in Switzerland or any other country that has enjoyed its freedom longer than Latvia,» comments Luminor Bank’s economist Pēteris Strautiņš.

Minister promises bigger wages for working people and support for country’s industry

«Latvian Economy Ministry’s priorities for 2018 include increasing wages for working people and providing support to the country’s industry. For Latvia’s centenary year, every resident should have the right to experience the increase of the personal and state welfare,» promises Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvenergo: electricity price has declined 30% in the past three years

Average electricity price in Latvia has declined in recent years. The average price of electricity has declined by 30% at Nord Pool exchange between 2014 and 2017, allowing end user costs to decline, says Latvenergo.

Alcohol sellers in Estonia to be checked by little «police»

To find shop assistants illegally selling alcohol or tobacco to minors, Estonian police introduces the method of sending minors as police aides to retail shops to try to purchase the products banned to them.

EY study: cyber security has become a priority to banks this year

Over the course of the year, priorities of banks around the world have switched from reputation and risk management to data security matters, as concluded in the latest EY Global Banking Outlook 2018.

Political association: UGF and Harmony are covering up state capture

«Parliamentary investigation of Oligarchs case has shown what is what in the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia. Green farmers are in full harmony, covering up Aivars Lembergs and the fact of state capture. They and Inguna Sudraba have made the parliamentary investigation into a farce. Unfortunately, the power in those people’s hands is no farce – rather misfortune for all of Latvia. I hope citizens will take all that into account when they go voting,» says leader of Kustība Par! Daniels Pavļuts.

Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel plan lacks ambition, says «Angry Birds» game maker

While Finland and Estonia work on plans of an under-sea tunnel from Tallinn to Helsinki, the construction of which could start in the 2030s, a Finnish businessman, previously involved in development of Angy Birds video game, has presented plans to finish the massive construction project in 2024 already.

Experts: healthcare financing law will deny healthcare to the least protected

In a discussion regarding healthcare, experts said that Latvian President Raimonds Vējoņis’ proposed Healthcare Financing Law is economically unjustified and ineffective. The document lacks principles of a socially responsible state, because healthcare is becoming less accessible, which will likely worsen public health indexes, says Kustība Par! political party.

Branded «aggressor state», Russia says Ukraine buries Minsk peace agreements

As the Donbas War continues, the parliament of Ukraine has passed the so-called Donbas reintegration bill after three days of debates defining territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country as temporarily occupied by Russia.

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