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Tuesday 17.10.2017 | Name days: Karīna, Gaits
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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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Latvia invites Iran to act constructively to ensure security

Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs participated in a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where he discussed about the role of Iran in the region and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in light of the upcoming report from US President Donald Trump to the Congress on Iran’s progress realizing the plan.

Vigil held in Malta over killing of investigative journalist

Several thousand people in Malta have taken part in a vigil held after news broke of the killing of an investigative journalist, who blamed Maltese government for corruption.

American exchange indexes reach record-high values; oil prices on the rise

In response to price rise of bank stocks, three leading indexes of US exchanges reached new record heights on Monday, 16 October. In addition, US Federal Reserve System manager Janet Yellen’s prediction regarding a soon inflation rise has increased confidence that base interest rate will increase in December.

54.14% more alcohol exported from Latvia; most of it to Russia

In the first eight months of 2017, a total of 102.259 million litres of alcoholic drinks was exported from Latvia, which is 54.14% more when compared with the same period of last year.

In pictures: Ireland hit by worst storm in 50 years

Three people have been killed in Ireland in the storm Ophelia, which cut off electricity networks to 120 000 homes and businesses in the country. Gusts of wind in Ireland on Monday, October 16, had reached the speed of 44 metres per second.

Tragic wildfires in Portugal and Spain

No less than 30 people have died in wildfires in Portugal and Spain.

Ašeradens to leave Latvian government at the end of November

Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens intends to leave the government after approval of the 2018 budget in the Saeima, which is scheduled for the end of November, as confirmed by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

Islamic extremists blamed for tragic terrorist attack in Somalia

The death-toll in a tragic terror attack in the eastern African state of Somalia has reached 320 people and local authorities have stated that a key member of the cell that allegedly launched the attack on Mogadishu has told them that al-Shabaab was responsible for the crime.

Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks gets new management

From now on Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks will have a new chairman: once the head of Latio Namsaimnieks has been appointed as the new head of the company. The other vacant post has been given to Ardis Pāvilsons.

Catalonia misses ultimatum deadline, Spanish government vows to act after Thursday

The separatist Spainish region of Catalonia has missed the deadline to clarify, if it has declared independence and Madrid has received a letter from the President of the autonomous region, which still needs analysis.

What will be the consequences for companies that cheated with electricity production permits

Businesses that were caught using fake permits for electricity production in mandatory procurements will not have their permits extended, says Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvian tourist accommodation facilities experience increase of overnight guests

The number of nights tourists and other guests spent in Latvian hotels and other tourist accommodation facilities in the first eight months of 2018 has grown 12.2% in comparison with the same period of last year, reaching 3.524 million.

Antāne: transit industry has been on thin ice lately

«The transit industry has been on thin ice lately. Russia’s decision to divert all cargoes to its ports will only smash the ice. The government and state policy-makers have two choices – wait for the ice to break completely and watch the industry drown until finally stepping in, or act now to at least reduce the crisis for the country’s national economy, workers and their families,» says President of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics Inga Antāne.

Kučinskis evasive in evaluation of Unity’s Economy Minister candidates

Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis remains evasive when it comes to assessing Unity’s Economy Minister candidates.

Amid alleged harassment scandal, Rõivas leaves post in Riigikogu

The former head of Estonian government Taavi Rõivas, who has been pointed to as allegedly having groped a woman during a visit to Singapore, has denied the claims, but has nevertheless decided to leave the of the second deputy speaker of the Estonian parliament.

De Facto: only one person was convicted of corruption in politics by KNAB in 15 years

In the past fifteen years, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau completed only one political corruption case, as concluded by De Facto programme of LTV.

Centre party victorious in Estonian local government elections

In the Estonian municipal election, held on October 15, the largest overall support has been won by Centre Party that is also the ruling party in Estonian central government.

Week to kick off warm in Latvia; weather to become colder down the line

At the beginning of the week, several cyclones will pass over Scandinavia. Cyclones will also dictate weather in Latvia. Atmospheric fronts will pass over the country multiple times throughout the week. Nevertheless, the sun will appear every now and then, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

CEO of Samsung Electronics resigns, citing unprecedented difficulties

At the world's second largest electronics firm Samsung Electronics, its co-chief executive officer Kwon Oh-hyun has stepped down, pointing to management problems in the massive South Korean company.

Accreditation fees for sign language interpreter programmes may be reduced in Latvia

Latvian Welfare Ministry intends to work with Education and Science Ministry to find a solution for the situation with accreditation fees in the existing sign language interpreter programme, as reported by Welfare Ministry’s representative Aiga Ozoliņa.

Austrian government expected to be headed by 31-year old Kurz

In the Austrian parliamentary election, held on Sunday, October 15, victory is projected to the right-wing Austrian People's Party and its leader Sebastian Kurz could be become Europe's youngest head of government.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania buying Norwegian air defence systems

Lithuanian defence officials have announced intention to buy Norwegian medium-range air-defence systems NASAMS in hopes of patching one of the biggest defence gaps.

Dryer and warmer weather expected

This weekend and next week, dryer and warmer weather is expected in Latvia, according to forecasts by the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Orkla Foods Latvija invests 122 000 euros in new production line and design

Juice and sauce producer Orkla Foods Latvija owned by the Norwegian conglomerate Orkla Group is investing 122 000 euros in a new production line and in the development of new product packaging design.

Return to military conscription discussed in Latvia

The restoration of mandatory military service would need three preconditions – the need expressed by the military, political will and public support, evaluated Latvian Defence Ministry State Secretary Jānis Garisons at an academic discussion on the necessity to restore conscription.

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