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Tuesday 24.04.2018 | Name days: Nameda, Visvaldis, Ritvaldis
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BNN summary of the week: Skele doesn’t want to be a loser, USA to transport gas to Lithuania

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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; Truth; Business and Growth.

CHANGE: Government and social partners agree on introduction of differentiated PIT

At a meeting of the National Council for Trilateral Cooperation, government representatives and social partners agreed on the introduction of differentiated personal income tax.

The agreement provides that PIT rates will be differentiated based on income forms: 20% for annual income under EUR 20,000, 23% for annual income from EUR 20,001 to EUR 55,000. One section government partners was not agreed upon at the meeting – the tax rate for large wage recipients. Finance Ministry offers transforming solidarity tax by applying solidarity tax calculation principle for PIT. With that, PIT rate for large wage recipients could be 33.5%. Employers opposed this principle, saying that this amount is too high.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Lithuania reaches gas delivery deal with U.S. firm

Lithuania’s gas trading company Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas has this week unveiled that it has sealed a contract to purchase liquified natural from the U.S.

Reuters news agency reports that the deal has been reached with a unit of Cheniere Energy and is part Lithuania’s endeavour to diversify its gas suppliers and reduce its dependence on Russian Gazprom.

Full article here

DECLINE: SRS cannot explain why unequal approach appears in application of fines

Employees of the State Revenue Service do not follow the institution’s guidelines, do not document criteria assessments in accordance with requirements of Latvian Code of Administrative Violations and generally apply fines based on their views, creating an unequal approach, BNN was told by the State Audit.

In its report, SA evaluated the practice of applying fines in the State Revenue Service. Throughout 2014-2016, SRS applied 52,000 fines for a total amount of EUR 12 million. It was concluded in the report that application of fines is inconsistent, deadlines are often missed, the calculation of fines is sometimes impossible to follow and only 53% of all applied fines have been collected over the years.

SRS and Finance Ministry should evaluate the reasons for violations and whether or not application of fines helps reduce the number of violations, SA emphasized in its report.

«The point of administrative punishments, including fines, is to motivate society to follow laws and prevent future violations. SRS can apply 105 different fines. In practice, however, 80% of fines are applied for non-cooperation with tax administration, accounting and declaration submission violations or failure to submit declaration in time,» notes SA.

Full article here

TRUTH: Oligarchs in Latvia have been building up influence by distorting media for years

The conversations tapped in Ridzene Hotel reveal that Latvian infamous oligarchs have been building up their influence over the years by subjugating and distorting media, Ir magazine writes.

«You know what’s s**t? We never resolved… What I said before – we need to agree on social media. We did sort out television, at least. Radio was the only remaining part,» Aivars Lembergs told Ainars Slesers after 10th Saeima elections. In those elections, Slesers’ and Andris Skele’s union Par labu Latviju gained eight seats. «We lost in the short term because there are opponents. What will they do once television and radio are united and private media are in our pocket? They won’t have any resources. We can play this well,» said Slesers.

«Every day they rinse brains,» Lembergs summarized the situation with social media after 10th Saeima elections. Slesers offered forming a union after presidential elections. «Latvian radio and television have ready-made team to cover the entire field. All we need is optimizing activities, relocating to new premises but under a single management,» he said.

Ir reports that such a political concept with involvement of different institutions and experts was developed and would have been realized if not for the sudden decision by Valdis Dombrovskis’ government to put an end to it.

Full article here

GROWTH: Estonia – Right to protection of family life also to same-sex couples

Estonian Supreme Court has established in a decision that same-sex couples also have the right to protection of family life, when the court detailed Estonian court jurisdiction in disputes over residence permits involving foreign nationals.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that in the decision of Tuesday, June 27, the Estonian Supreme Court found that the law does not forbid issuing a residence permit for the duration of an ongoing court dispute for cohabiting with a spouse, also in cases, when a couple has entered in same-sex marriage outside of Estonia.

Full article here

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MEP: New Unity may be in the government with other parties that have similar goals

After Saeima elections, New Unity will cooperate with parties prepared to work with the association to accomplish specific goals, says leader of New Unity and member of the European Parliament Krišjānis Kariņš.

Canada experiences tragic attack on pedestrians in Toronto

In the Canadian city of Toronto, a driver has been driving onto pedestrians taking the lives of 10 people and injuring 15 more.

Latvian residents spend an average of EUR 81 on cosmetics every year

Latvian residents spend an average of EUR 81 on cosmetics every year, which is one of the lowest indexes in Europe. Compared to other Baltic States, Latvian residents spend less money on cosmetics, according to data compiled by Latvian Cosmetic Manufacturers Association.

Armenian Prime Minister Sargsyan resigns unexpectedly

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, has unexpectedly stepped down from office after ten days of protests in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Baltic Express: Europe has already invented the bicycle; we just have to adopt it

13 March marked a historic event for Ventspils railway hub – for the first time in the history of Latvia’s railway a private cargo carrier – Baltic Express – delivered wagons to Ventspils 1st station and private infrastructure’s railway terminal. Why is this event so important and what is the future for Latvia’s cargo railway system? – Baltic Express chairman Māris Bremze told ventspilnieks.lv.

Reduction of employees in state administration went the smoothest in finance sector

Measures to reduce the number of employees in state administration last year went the smoothest for the State Revenue Service and the entire finance sector, said Latvia’s State Chancellery’s Director Jānis Citskovskis.

Alleged Paris terrorist Abdeslam convicted of attempted murder

The lone Paris attacks' suspect Salah Abdeslam has been found guilty of attempted terrorist murder of police, when taking part in a shootout with police in the Belgian capital Brussels in March 2016.

Rail Baltica’s infrastructure management model to be studied by British company

On 8 November 2017, RB RAIL joint Baltic company announced the winner in the tender for the study of Rail Balica’s infrastructure management model. The winner was British design, engineering and project management consulting company: Atkins and SNC-Lavalin Group.

Harmony and UGF have their sponsors, whereas Sudraba’s party relies on donations

Since the beginning of the week, Latvia’s political parties have received more than half a million euros in donations and membership fees. According to the database of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, pockets fill up the fastest for political parties in power in the country and Riga.

Chemical weapons investigators have taken samples in Doma, Syria

In Syria, the scene, where according to the UK, U.S. and France, an attack with chemical weapons was conducted earlier in April, has after delays been visited by inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, who have managed to collect samples.

Estonia and Finland to share patient data over innovative «secure» data highway

The Estonian-developed international data exchange technology X-road, said to be hacker-proof is to be the basis for a new Estonia-Finland system of linked doctor prescription registers that would make prescriptions issued in one country available in pharmacies in the other.

Prime minister: Linužs’ dealings with offshore business warrants an investigation

Latvia’s Transport Minister Uldis Augulis refused to comment on information reported by De Facto programme one week ago – that Rail Baltica organized Andris Linužs had signed a deal with an offshore company based in Seychelles and used by influential businessmen from St. Petersburg. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, on the other hand, told the programme that «deals associated with state security had been recorded in the past and represent a matter that warrants an investigation».

Afghanistan hit by tragic terror attack

In Kabul, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber has killed not less than 57 people and injured 119 more as the attack with explosives targeted a queue of people outside a voter registration centre, Afghan officials have stated.

Armenia mass protests continue as opposition leader Pashinyan detained

In Armenia, mass protests against ex-President Serzh Sargsyan being elected as Prime Minister, have continued over the weekend marking over a week of protests in the capital Yerevan.

Weather in Latvia to be cold; air temperature to rise at week’s end

This week will be slightly colder for Latvia. Rain is expected in almost all regions every day. It will start getting warmer on Saturday and Sunday, when daytime air temperature is expected to rise again, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Economists, trade unions cautious about tax, pension reform plans

Lithuanian economists and trade union officials say that the government's planned tax and pension system reform unveiled on Monday, April 23, will lead to a rise in wages, but will not help drastically curb emigration.

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.