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Wednesday 20.09.2017 | Name days: Marianna, Ginters, Guntra

BNN summary of the week: opposition in Ventspils, tax reform’s progress and growing state debt

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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: Business; Decline; Future; and Growth.

BUSINESS: Kucinskis promises to find decisive solution to tax reform next week

None of the coalition partners have any desire to overthrow the government. A solution to the tax reform and healthcare funding problem will be found, said Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

«Yesterday I gathered all coalition representatives. The good news is that no one has any plans to topple the government and somehow stop the tax reform,» Kucinskis said.

He says he discussed with coalition partners different sources for financing healthcare and tax reform. All coalition partners agreed that it is necessary to search for solutions.

«We agreed to reach a final conclusion next week – 14 June. We have no more time for discussions – doctors and patients are waiting,» said the prime minister.

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DECLINE: Kristovskis says work conditions at Ventspils City Council will be humiliating

«Work conditions for the opposition at Ventspils City Council will be humiliating. Still, our commitment and political experience is sufficient to deal with it,» said leader of a joint list of candidates from Unity, National Alliance and Latvian Association of Regions Girts Valdis Kristovskis in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Commenting on the choice made by residents of Ventspils, Kristovskis said they have demonstrated their conservative position and offering trust. At the same time, voters have demonstrated that they do not value democracy, said the politician.

He admits the opposition will have to work in conditions created by the ruling power – Aivars Lembergs’ For Latvia and Ventspils. Because of that, Kristovskis says he cannot promise more than ‘following’ the completion of the work on the city council’s agenda. «The opposition cannot dictate the agenda, it can only try to achieve goals in conditions created by the ruling power,» the politician said.

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GROWTH: Ruling coalition in Latvia may decide to put off PIT reduction

The ruling coalition plans to discuss different new proposals for compensating mechanisms in the realization of the tax reform – higher progressiveness of PIT, the option to postpone PIT reduction by six months and others.

The coalition also intends to reach an agreement next week about matters associated with tax reform and healthcare funding. Politicians have been offered multiple variants for changes. No agreement has been reached over them so far, however.

If additional compensating mechanisms are needed, the decision may be made to postpone the reduction of PIT to 20% for six months – 1 July instead of 1 January. Politicians may also discuss a more progressive PIT rate than initially planned. The current tax reform provides for two PIT rates – 20% for income under EUR 45,000 a year (EUR 3,750 a month) and income above EUR 45,000 a year.

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FUTURE: Tax level in Latvia insufficient; state debt may increase

Fiscal Discipline Council has concluded that the current tax revenue level in Latvia is insufficient for the state needs and there are risks the state debt may increase in a long-term perspective.

A discussion was performed in cooperation with European Commission’s representation in Latvia about fiscal longevity and the role of the public sector in improving economic growth and social welfare.

Council Chairman Janis Platais said during the discussion on 6 June: «The current tax revenue level limits the country’s ability to provide high-quality public services and adequate social protection. As the quality of life increases, it is expected that there will be higher requirements for public services.»

He continues: «Clarity is needed for the range of services and social protection measures provided by the public sector in order to develop an appropriate income policy. Financing more expenses at the cost of the state debt is unacceptable.»

In the first part of talks, European Commission’s Economic and Financial Affairs General director Manfred Bergmann provided his opinion. Information was also provided by representatives of Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry, Latvian Free Trade Unions Association and Citadele Bank.

Platais concluded that fiscal longevity details a country’s ability to fulfil its financial commitments. Working on the fiscal longevity report, it is important to evaluate the influence the current expenses policy could have on the state debt, considering the ageing of the population and expenditures associated with that.

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Pabriks: Russia failed to intimidate anyone with Zapad exercises

Information acquired during Zapad 2017 military exercises will be enough to assess the tactics used and strategy, said MEP Artis Pabriks in an interview to Rīta panorama programme of LTV.

Latvian Court Administration invests in development Georgia’s court system

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VNT director: I’m not desperate, managing such challenges is why we are here

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Judins says parliamentary committee «is going nowhere»

The work performed by Saeima’s investigative committee in charge of oligarch case does not fit the established goal to investigate and analyse possible state capture, says member of the committee and Unity’s Saeima faction Andrejs Judins.

Study: residents criticize development of Latvia general situation the most

With the coming of autumn, residents’ optimism has declined significantly, according to results of Baltic International Bank’s Latvian Barometer.

Number of occupied jobs in Latvia up 9.3 thousand

At the end of the first half of 2017, in Latvia there were 903.2 thousand occupied posts, and, compared to the end of the first half of 2016, the number has grown by 9.3 thousand or 1.0 %.

Latkovskis says sometimes questionable votes are lobbied in Saeima in secret

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E-governance advocate Ilves comments on alleged Estonian ID card vulnerability

The ex-President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who has been an active advocate of e-governance has emphasised that a possible security risk with Estonian ID cards has not put that the country's reputation as an e-state at risk.

Delna invites Saeima to support initiative to liquidate option to abstain from votes

Society for openness Delna invites Saeima deputies to support public initiative and liquidate the option for deputies to abstain from votes.

82% of Estonian households use mobile internet at home

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Baltic Express attracts railway cargoes; decline noted for other carriers

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Survey: more than half of Latvian residents are half-serious about their health

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In pictures: Zapad drill in full swing

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Rinkēvičs invites India to open an embassy in Latvia

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Norwegian top policeman sentenced to 21 years in prison for aiding hashish contraband

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Road Transport Administration: transport planning in Riga does not reflect region’s scale

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Mass Ryanair cancellations expected

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Legislative draft proposed to simplify referendum procedure

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Greece to lift wine tax due to low revenue

The government of Greece plans to submit draft amendments to lift the country’s year-old excise tax on wine, Greek Minister for Agricultural Development and Food has stated.

Reirs: pension budget will increase by EUR 160 million next year

Next year, pension budget will increase by more than EUR 160 million, says Latvian Welfare Minister Jānis Reirs. He explains that the total pension budget will be EUR 1.93 billion, which means funding for next year’s pensions will be 9.19% higher.

Oligarch case’s parliamentary committee settles disputes with shouting

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IDB: it is too soon to expect corruption to go down in traffic monitoring field

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