bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 21.06.2018 | Name days: Monvīds, Egita, Emīls
LatviaLatvia

NP: Riga’s public transport services more beneficial to Russian, not Latvian pensioners

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RURiga City Council’s expenditures for Rīgas Satiksme (RS) increase with each passing year. Last year, expenditures reached EUR 86 million. This year, however, they have grown to EUR 108 million. In addition, Latvian citizens and non-citizens can use public transport services in Riga free of charge starting from the age of 63, whereas Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian pensions – from 55.

The management of Riga City Council sees no problem with this. When asked, however, why citizens of other countries are given larger benefits, officials of the city council were unable to provide any clear explanations, as reported by Nekā personīga programme.

Expenditures include fees for discounts provided by the municipality to schoolchildren, seniors aged 75 or older, and other passenger groups. Discounts are also provided to retired pensioners, and not just Latvian citizens at that.

It should be added that only a small number of Riga’s residents pay the full price when travelling using public transports in Riga – all other groups are provided with discounts of some sort. Pensioners from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are provided with the largest benefits, because they are provided the option to not pay at the age of fifty five.

Rules of Riga City Council state that a 100% discount is provided to pensioners living in Riga, regardless of their citizenship. This means RS also applies the discount to residents with retirement certificates of other countries.

Nekā personīga reports that Latvian citizens and non-citizens are eligible for pensioner status at the age of 63 years and 3 months. Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens are able to retire earlier than that – women at the age of 55 and men – at 60. This means they are able to use public transport services in Riga free of charge eight years earlier than Latvian citizens and non-citizens.

RS press-secretary Viktors Zaķis comments: «At this moment there are 61,399 retired pensioners in Latvia with this status. We can determine how many times they have used public transport services since becoming pensioners. It is a very precise number, but rounding it puts it at 24 million.»

He was asked if it is fair that pensioners who are also Russian citizens are provided with a discount at the age of 55 form women and 60 for men, whereas Latvian citizens and non-citizens are provided with the same discount at the age of 63.

He told journalists: «We are not the ones who make decision, we only execute them. We rely on what is written in Riga City Council’s regulations. First of all, a person has to be a pensioner – there are no specific requirements for nationality. Secondly, the person has to have his or her residence registered in Riga.»

The programme could not find out from Riga City Council if the municipal administration has considered differences and has calculated the costs of carrying pensioners of other nationalities free of charge. Riga City Council’s Transport Affairs Committee says the municipal administration has no right to divide pensioners based on their nationality.

The head of the committee Vadims Baraņņiks (Harmony) told the programme: «I think Riga City Council cannot in any way divide pensioners, because by and large pensioners that legally stay in Latvia all have their personal codes. It is not important if they are citizens of Russia, Latvia, Georgia, Ukraine or any other country. They live here. We have no reason to divide them into groups. There can be no politics here. It is a political position. One that exists in Riga municipality.»

Olga Veidiņa (Harmony), chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee, told ar Nekā personīga programme that Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian pensioners have earned the right to receive discounts earlier because they are especially poor.

She comments: «We live in a democratic country. Those old people are the ones who carried Latvia on its road towards independence with Russian or Latvian citizenship. They all worked for the good of Latvia. Let’s not take away the last chance for those old and sick people to live a normal life. They have already lost a lot, if not everything, with all the taxes and fees.»

The programme reports that, in accordance with the city council’s regulations, even Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian pensioners provided with residence permits in exchange for investments in capital or businesses are eligible for discounts.

Journalists asked Veidiņa to comment on regulations. She responded by saying: «I believe it is fair for people in their late years to be provided a discount. This should be done across the entire country. They have earned it. It is unfair to take away even more from them in taxes. I don’t care if a person is Russian or Latvian… They earned their pension and they worked here, in Latvia. I am a democrat and I don’t care if a person is Latvian, Russian, Jewish, Latgalian, German, Finnish – those are pensioners, and they have the right to some benefits. I’m sorry, and let’s not divide people. Shameful!»

It should be mentioned also that the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry says that «it is not possible to prohibit municipal administrations from providing discounts to different groups of people. There is only one restriction – it is not allowed to provide discounts based on a single criterion – whether or not a person is registered in the municipality in question.»

The programme reports that neither RS nor Riga City Council have information as to how many foreign citizens there are in Latvia who have yet to reach a specific pension age. According to data from Nekā personīga, this number could be as large as several thousands.

Information from the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs shows that there are 28,000 Russian citizens and a couple thousands with Ukrainian and Belarusian passports registered in Riga. During the economic crisis of 2008-2013, the number of non-citizens who applied for Russian citizenship had increased dramatically. Most of them were women aged 55. Russian citizenship ensures Russian pension. Most of the people who picked Russian citizenship are not retired.

Santa Jonāte, head of Interior Affairs Ministry’s Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, told Nekā personīga the following: ‘In 2015 and 2016, for example, nearly half of non-citizens decided to apply for citizenship of another country, in this case – Russian citizenship. Most of those people were 55 then.’

5,763 non-citizens applied for Russian citizenship in 2010. This number declined to 1,618 in 2015 and 873 in 2016. This is likely because of the decline of Russian rouble’s value, which makes pensions offered by Russia twice as lower.

Journalists mention that if we estimate that discounts are provided to five thousand Russian citizens under the pension age established for Latvia, this costs Riga’s budget EUR 2.3 million annually.

Ref: 225.109.109.2489


Leave a reply

Ukraine's anti-corruption court law insufficient to IMF commitments

The International Monetary Fund has commended the Ukrainian parliament for passing a law to establish an anti-corruption court and pointed to need to amend it to ensure the court can work effectively.

Opinion: they’re trying to shut us up; KPV LV is inconvenient for current government

«We are inconvenient for the current government, the established order, because for the first time a party is prepared to use facts in its rhetoric in the pre-election period. They are trying to shut us up,» said KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems at a press-conference after Artuss Kaimiņš was taken away by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Hydro and wind power plants produced 70.5% more electricity last year

In 2017 gross energy consumption in Latvia comprised 194.9 petajoules, which is 5.5 % more than in 2016. Over the past five years, the gross energy consumption has not changed significantly. However the share of renewable energy has increased by 2.55 percentage points.

Milder penalties for the accused in digital TV case; idea’s authors get no prison sentence

Riga Regional Court has released a shortened ruling in the so-called digital television criminal case. With it, the court acquitted previously convicted former director of Latvia’s National Theatre Ojārs Rubenis. Nevertheless, some of the accused have been sentenced to fines and actual prison time.

Estonian traitor Simm ruled to serve full 12.5 years in prison

A court in Tartu has decided that the Estonian Defence Ministry ex-official Herman Simm, found guilty of treason in 2009 and sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, has to serve his full sentence, not to be released earlier.

CPCB officers detain Kaimiņš after Saeima meeting

Officers of Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau detained Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš after the end of the parliament’s meeting.

Around 15% of Estonian 15-19-year-olds estimated to have mental illness

In Estonia, an estimated total of 20,000-40,000 adolescents, comprising 10-20% of all teenage Estonians, have been found to suffer from a mental illness and close to 3,000 children have been prescribed antidepressants.

Chief: Anti-Money Laundering Service should not submit to a single person

Anti-Money Laundering Service should not be controlled by a single person, says chief of the Control Service Ilze Znotiņa.

Saeima permits commencement of criminal process against Artuss Kaimiņš

This week Latvia’s Saeima voted in favour of the decision to detain and then perform a search in the home of Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš from KPV LV political party.

U.S. withdraws from UN Human Rights Council voicing sharp criticism

The U.S. has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the body as being politically biased and not working towards reducing human rights violations globally.

Latvian minister confirms interrogation by Lithuanian investigators

In the case regarding possible corruption in the National Blood Centre, Lithuanian services have interrogated Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša, as confirmed by the official.

Recreational use of marijuana legalised in Canada

Canadian Parliament has adopted a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide after medical use of the drug has been allowed since 2001. Canada is to become the second country in the world allow buying marijuana for recreational use.

Human Rights Committee: KGB documents should be made publicly accessible

Documents left from Latvian SSR KGB office are part of national document heritage and therefore should be handed over for lifetime storage and be made publicly accessible for research in Latvia’s National Archive.

Non-negotiated contracts; fictive deals: digital television introduction schemes for «mere mortals»

The criminal process revolving around digital television project’s realization in Latvia was launched 15 years ago – in 2003. And it began with a search in a company owned by Andris Šķēle. After that, the list of involved people started expanding with names like Andrejs Ēķis, Jurģis Liepnieks and others.

Doctors unjustifiably charged fees for services worth 255,000 last year

Last year, authorities found that medical institutions that provide state budget-financed healthcare services had charged fees for services worth EUR 254,994, according to data compiled by Health Inspectorate.

Budget Committee picks Swedbank economist for Bank of Latvia Council

On Tuesday, 19 June, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously decided to submit to the Saeima a decision project regarding approval of Mārtiņš Kazāks for the post of member of the council of the Bank of Latvia, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Farmers Saeima proposes declaring state of emergency in Latvia’s agriculture sector

Farmers Saeima association has sent a letter to Latvia’s State Chancellery, Agriculture Ministry, Finance Ministry and Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, detailing a request addressed to the Cabinet of Ministers and Saeima to declare a state of emergency in the country’s agriculture sector because of the lasting drought.

IT specialist’s lawyers appeal client's arrest in recent restaurant case

Lawyers of Edgars Štrombergs, who is the accused party in the Vairāk saules restaurant cash register data manipulation case, have appealed the security measure applied to him, as confirmed by sworn attorney Mareks Halturins.

Russian and Belarusian arms control experts hosted by Lithuania

Russian and Belarusian arms control inspectors have been hosted by Lithuania as NATO forces trained across the Baltic states and Poland in exercise Saber Strike 2018.

Latvia’s ports suffer freight volume decline in first five months of 2018

Latvian ports handled 27.072 million tonnes of freight in the first five months of this year, which is 7.5% less when compared to the same period of last year, according to data compiled by Transport Ministry.

Bicycle rickshaws in Tallinn will need safety belts from July

Seeking to regulate the provision of bicycle rickshaw services in the Estonian capital, the Tallinn City Council has is to more particular bicycle rickshaw regulations that would align the services closer to car taxis.

158 election sites to open in Riga during next Saeima elections

A total of 158 election sites are planned to be opened in Riga for this autumn’s Saeima elections, as confirmed by documents prepared by Riga City Council.

30% of Latvian residents are dissatisfied with their family’s financial state

Residents’ overall mood has declined considerably across all survey positions. Residents have become the most negative about Latvia’s economic situation – 31% of them believe it has worsened. When asked to voice their outlooks for Latvia’s economy in a year from now, 17% of respondents said it will have improved, according to results of Baltic International Bank’s latest Latvian Barometer.

Apple fined 5 million euros for customer rights violations in Australia

A court in Australia has ruled that U.S. tech firm Apple has to pay a fine of 5.7 million euros refusing to repair iPhones and iPads that had been serviced by third parties as those actions breached consumer law.

Latvian coalition still torn about attracting highly-qualified guest workers

Because of differences in opinions among ministries, Latvia’s government is unlikely to support and view the proposal to ease the issue of EU blue card to highly-qualified guest workers without appropriate higher education, says Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.