Clarity in relation to the fate of Latvia’s State Revenue Service finally surfaced this week. The current head of the State Environmental Service Ilga Kolegova has agreed to become a candidate to lead the country’s tax service.
Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola is also prepared to present Kolegova as a candidate for approval in the government. The final decision on this matter will be made after Kolegova’s meeting with representatives of the ruling coalition and business organizations.
The finance minister plans to meet with Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis to offer him Kolegova as a candidate for approval.
«Our views for the future of SRS are aligned. Kolegova proved herself as a capable leader. SRS should become an institution that is friendly towards entrepreneurs, and Kolegova understands this. I hope entrepreneurs will support her candidacy,» – said the finance minister.
Kolegova has confirmed that she has read through all the public information available about SRS. She has also spoken with many entrepreneurs and has learned their opinion about SRS. If she is chosen as the head of SRS, Kolegova intends to actively apply good practices of foreign tax services.
Reizniece-Ozola emphasized that Kolegova will face two main objectives to increase tax revenue – effective crime prevention and formation of a service that will be friendly towards entrepreneurs.
Kolegova will also have to continue the initiated changes in SRS’ internal structure – unification of the customs police administration and finance police administration, enhancement of independence of the internal security service. Efforts to get rid of dishonest SRS workers has only just begun, said the minister.
Latvian Employers’ Confederation and Latvian Union of Free Trade Unions met with Kolegova this week.
Behind a unified cadastre
More good news came this week – the government accepted amendments developed by Justice Ministry in regards to retaining the base of cadastral value in 2016 and 2017.
These amendments have a technical meaning, because the matter has been resolved at its core by amendments to the State Cadastre Law.
Legislation previously stated that under cadastral value of under EUR 56,000, the tax rate is 0.2% of the value (0.4% with cadastral value ranging from EUR 56,000 to EUR 106,000 and 0.6% with cadastral value of more than EUR 106,000). Starting from 2017 the value of apartments in new projects (32,000 apartments, 5% of the housing fund) will grow two times. The tax rate will change for those buildings. This is why it is also necessary to search for solutions to limit tax growth.
The legislative draft was developed following the initiative of Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnacs in order to review the tax policy for real estate before actualizing the base of cadastral value to avoid unbalanced growth.
During previous discussions, Mayor of Adazi Maris Sprindzuks called to take into account the state of municipalities in Riga region, where the real estate tax is six time higher in comparison with other municipalities. If the tax is increased and rates remain the same, municipalities will have to apply discounts so that people can pay the tax.
It may be a mere coincidence, but almost immediately after the government made this decision Director General of the State Land Service Elita Baklane-Ansberga submitted her resignation. She explained her decision with personal circumstances. She believes now is the perfect moment to leave the service.
It is expected that 18 August will be her last day of work in SLS.
Mecca of medical tourism
The topic of medical tourism in Latvia became actualized this week following the announcement of the President of Latvian Association for Medical Exports Olafs Slutins. According to him, the most popular medical services foreigners use in Latvia are diagnosis and dentistry. This is because these two medical services can be easily combined with tourism. Foreigners are also interested in what Latvia has to offer in the fields of phlebology, treatment of infertility, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and dermatology.
Meanwhile, foreign press actively reports news that it is also possible to cure cancer in Latvia. Recently, Latvian Rigvir holding received a grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to help with commercialization of Rigvir drug on the European market. As explained by Karlis Urbans, Rigvir’s financial director, millions of patients around the world need this drug. Unfortunately, Rigvir is currently registered in three countries. Patients wishing to gain access to Rigvir can undergo virotherapy by means of medical tourism. The grant provided by the European Commission should make it more accessible to all people.
According to data of the Latvian Agency for Investments and Development for 2014: 43% of medical tourists in Latvia are citizens of Russia, Ukraine and CIS countries. 57% are citizens of European, Scandinavian and other countries.