bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Wednesday 23.08.2017 | Name days: Valgudis, Ralfs, Vitālijs
LatviaLatvia

Who and why wants to see Pavļuts leave the government?

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUReform Party remains unwavering in its decision to have Daniels Pavļuts appointed as Economy Minister. Talks about this with PM candidate Laimdota Straujuma could take place this Sunday, January 19.

If Daniels Pavļuts is not invited to join the next government, Reform Party may come over to the opposition. ‘Our main principle for work in the new government is responsibility and readiness to finish our work. This is why RP has decided to have Edgars Rinkēvičs, Rihards Kozlovskis and Daniels Pavļuts remain in their posts,’ – RP press secretary Mārtiņš Etkins toldLETA.

RP Chairman Edmunds Demiters says ‘the Board was surprised when Laimdota Straujuma had publicly announced her opinion of Daniela Pavļuts as Economy Minister candidate before RP had made its choice, which is rather impolite. Though Straujuma’s honesty is admirable, the Board believes the arguments she voiced were untrue. Therefore, in accordance with the mutual agreement memorandum, including Unity’s and Reform Party’s mutual responsibility for the next PM candidate, the Board of RP will ask for a meeting with PM candidate Laimdota Straujuma and Unity’s Board, so that this matter can be resolved in private.’

In terms of taking responsibility for the Zolitude tragedy, Pavļuts mentioned the letter he wrote November 25. In this letter he explained he did everything he could to make the new Construction Law as strict as possible. ‘Thanks to the combined efforts of [then the head of National Economy Committee] Vyacheslav Dombrovskis and [current head of this committee] Jāņis Ozoliņš, we have managed to achieve the result we were hoping for – Saeima approved the law,’ – says the Economy Minister.

Pavļuts denies reprimands that the necessary legal requirements are not likely to be completed by February 1. He adds that there are many regulation project to handle and too little time for all of them. Nevertheless, Pavļuts said he and his colleagues will do all they can to make sure everything is in order. It is also important to remember that some of those projects were not developed in time.

Straujuma may not want Pavļuts in the new government because of the business interests of her son Ģirts Straujums. If Economy Minister Daniels Pavļuts does not end up in the new government and Economy Ministry returns to its green energy subsidies policy, businesses of sponsors that support influential political parties could draw a second breath.

This includes the business of once the largest bio-ethanol producer and generous sponsor of Unity Donats Vaitaitis, whose company had appointed the son of Laidota Straujuma – Ģirts Straujums – to the Board last summer. This could mean a conflict of interests for Straujuma if Pavļuts is not invited to remain in the government, Pietiek writes.

When Kampars was the Economy Minister, the state provided generous subsidies to bio-ethanol producers. This guaranteed great wealth for Vaitaitis. He donated LVL 72,000 to four political parties during the 10th Saeima elections.

Three months after the generous donations, the ruling coalition led by Valdis Dombrovskis decided to allocate LVL 24.4 million from the state budget to Vaitaitis’ JP Terminals for the construction of a bio-ethanol production plant on the territory of Riga Freeport.

BNN publishes fragments of interviews with the Economy Minister that took place October 2012. Even though Latvia’s political situation has changed, Economy Minister’s replies may reveal who and why would benefit from him being removed from the government.

Recently we have seen fierce opposition against the Reform Party (RP) ministers, including you. Have you crossed some serious interests or is it turned against the party as a whole?

Both. The government has now been working for some time and it is more or less clear what the ministers do. Those highly dissatisfied with the ministers’ work have formed groups, so that they can target them more actively. Besides, the pre-election period before local polls has started off and also the next year’s budget is under way. The timing is a real minefield. As a newcomer to the coalition, the Reform Party sticks to its programme and the Government Statement. So the backlash is not surprising at all.

There is no easy way – be it regional development, education, energy or business – state aid, management of public and municipal companies. These are all areas with long-standing issues. They have long developed certain political and economic systems, which are interested in maintaining the current balance. You try crossing their way and they immediately attack like wasps.

I suspect that they are also targeting individual ministers, who all have crossed their interests in one or another way. It turns out RP ministers are not the only reformists. Other minsters are dealing with soaring issues as well. I wonder why they have not yet ‘joined the club’. But this can no longer be said about the Welfare Minister Ilze Vinkele.

Who are those whose interests you have crossed?

The Ministry of Economy controls huge resources. Although the EU funds programming period is coming to an end, we are still looking at some serious economic issues – public and municipal companies as well as fund programs.

We have highlighted a number of problematic areas. First and foremost it is energy – issues related to state aid for the production of electricity using gas, renewable energy and cogeneration.

Long-term energy strategy has already been handed over for public discussion and highlighted in the meeting of the State Secretaries. It features clear long-term vision on changes, leading away from the historical policy carried out only in the interest of the energy itself and the involved businesses. Now we have to make slow, difficult and painful effort to change the direction, so that the energy sector benefits people.

Second, it is reforms in the management of public and municipal companies. Disputes with the Privatization Agency are nothing compared to what serious issues the government is addressing now.

Back in spring, long coordination process and arguments finally allowed the government to come up with two concepts – on public authorities’ involvement in business and changes in the management of public and municipal companies.

During summer we developed new bills, which have already been sent for harmonization. I can’t wait for the findings. There will be many arguable issues around the financial supervision, dividend policy and the independence of the new body that will control the state capital management.

I expect attempts to narrow the whole debate down to the issue of supervisory boards. It is close to populism. Meanwhile, there is a lack of clarity as to why some companies are owned by the state and municipalities at all.

How much has been done in the fight against oligarchs since RP joined politics?

In the parliament there is little left of parties with direct ties to oligarchs. Both the government and the parliament have adopted a series of decisions that go against the interests of oligarchs. Their influence on the decisions of the parliament and the government has practically faded, but there are also some signals that it still lingers.

Let’s take ports as an example. Their activities are gradually becoming more logical. Too slowly, but pretty regularly we find out about various shortcomings and blatantly unlawful acts.

The Reform Party has succeeded in changing regulations on freeports, which now have to provide greater transparency, for example, by publishing the minutes of board meetings.

But some things have turned out different than planned. At times we see transparency only on the surface. But things are indeed moving on. A country is like a huge ship – it cannot change the direction quickly. One can set up a show and pretend that things are now different, but time and determination are needed to change the very essence. We are moving in the right direction, but personally I feel that it should be done faster.

Do you mean freeports?

Including freeports. I will only say that freeports have changed when one of them carries out a major investment project in collaboration with internationally renowned partners and when people see the port working on a quality investment project that benefits the whole economy. I will say that when the project has been implemented in a transparent manner and investors approve of the business climate.

Are Latvians slow to adapt to reforms?

Initiators of reforms should always deal with that. Changes do not come easy. Often people demand reforms, without being willing to change their lives. There is always a certain fear factor even if we are in a situation that we do not like. It is because we never know where changes will take us. Let’s take the education sector as an example. It has seen many reforms, so it is already tired of them.

But I am not saying that Latvians are not ready for reforms. Just the opposite – during the past 20 years they have absorbed, understood, lived through and carried out numerous changes. So it is hard to imagine a nation, which could have done that better.

We could perhaps say that others, for example, the Poles or Estonians, have been more successful at this. But Latvians’ ability to accept new rules of the game is each reformist’s dream. Latvia is a mobile and adaptive country, its people – very patient and quite understanding. Sometimes they do, of course, lack comprehension of highly specific issues, but that can be solved.

You once said that ‘when other countries take just one step, we either have to take two or run’. Is Latvia doing that?

Of course, we have to run faster than others and compete in all matters. We do not have any extra time, we are a small economy that has been exposed to global winds. Since joining the European Union and opening of labour markets, human capital has become mobile. We are competing with other countries not only for investments but also for our own people – human capital.

To improve the future outlook, we have to move faster than others. We are already doing it in many areas. Take a look at how quickly Latvian companies have switched from domestic consumption to export.

But we have to admit that the share of exporting companies is not large. According to the Central Statistical Bureau’s preliminary estimates, in 2011 there were 80 591 companies in Latvia. Only 5 601 of them were involved in export.

Boosting productivity is one of our main challenges. We all would like to make more money, but we can afford to pay salaries that match productivity. We have to keep pursuing productivity boost. We need to learn new technologies, because in future it will not be possible to permanently pay high salaries to low-skilled people.

But it is exactly low-skilled people who tend to leave the country.

Given the current development level of Latvia, people who do simple jobs, cannot expect to be paid the same as in developed countries. I understand people who want to earn more, and I am not blaming them for their personal choices. But we ourselves are responsible for them. People can retrain, so that they can work in an area, which allows to make more money.

We also need to think of ways to help employees turn into employers. A lot of people, who have left Latvia, still carry it in their hearts. From stories in the media, we see that there are also people who are offered to return and start business here. I am confident that in future many companies will be founded by people who return and place savings in their own business.

Ref: 102.109.109.4722

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU


Leave a reply

Sudraba claims KNAB investigated oligarch case to the maximum extent

Investigators of the so-called oligarch case, which continue working at the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, performed their work responsibly. Information leak during the investigation, on the other hand, had impacted the investigation considerably, said head of the parliamentary investigation committee Inguna Sudraba as a visit to KNAB.

Survey: 43% of internet store users purchase something once a month

Overall, Latvian consumers are satisfied with the purchases they made on internet stores. 65.3% of respondents believe internet stores are safe and reliable. 44.7% of respondents say they have never had any problems when shopping on the internet, according to results of a survey performed by Gudriem.lv.

Government establishes prohibition to wear face-concealing clothes in public

On Tuesday, 22 August, Latvian government supported Justice Ministry’s proposed legislative draft on restrictions for face-concealing clothes, which prohibits residents from wearing such clothes in public places.

Experts explain why a teenager’s «I don’t know» is so dangerous

Most often we say things like «I don’t know» because we are afraid of making choices. Reaching their teens, youngsters become more independent, and the inability to make responsible decisions and say «no» can have serious consequences, says psychologist Sabine Vilcina and youth motivation programme «MOT. Izvēlies drosmi!» manager Ilze Paidere-Stake.

Traders: following VAT decline, prices of goods will decline as well

Latvian Association of Food Traders supports Agriculture Ministry’s proposal to reduce VAT rate for food and separate food product groups. Traders confirm that this step will also reduce food product prices in stores.

The most major risks and solutions for real estate purchase and rent with option to buy

To acquire housing in one’s property, often residents use rent with an option to buy. Sworn attorney Zanda Zaluma of Eversheds Sutherland Bitāns shares advice resident should keep in mind when signing real estate contracts.

Finance Minister: businessmen will be forced to pay larger wages

The current market situation shows that Latvia should speed up its education reform and think about attracting additional human resources from other countries, said Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Latvia to procure Stinger anti-air missile launchers

A mutual contract has been signed between Latvian Defence Ministry and Danish Defence Ministry for the procurement of anti-air missile launchers used by the Danish armed forces, as confirmed by Latvian Defence Ministry.

Oil prices and stock exchange indexes decline in Europe

On Monday, 21 August, oil prices declined. Exchange indexes in USA increased slightly, whereas exchange indexes in Europe declined because of concerns over the policy implemented by the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Terrorists in Barcelona were planning three explosions

Terrorists, who performed two attacks in Catalonia last week, were initially planning to blow up three shuttle buses in crowded areas in Barcelona, as reported by El Espano.

Lawyer: Maxima wants to earn by reducing compensations for the tragedy

Maxima Latvija and Zolitude 21.11 have reached an agreement on payment of EUR 900,000 to support victims of Zolitude tragedy – EUR 5,000 to EUR 75,000 to each person, as reported by Maxima Latvija.

Producer prices in industry in Latvia grew 0.4% in July

Compared to June, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.4 % in July 2017. The prices of products sold on the domestic market increased by 0.5 %, whereas the prices of exported products grew by 0.3 %.

Enefit: Latvia reduces electricity price difference with neighbouring countries

In recent years, Latvia has managed to reduce the electricity price difference with other Baltic neighbouring countries, as reported by Enefit Chairman Janis Bethers.

Farmers Saeima: butter price will not remain high for long

The high price on butter in Latvia will not remain so high for long, said Farmers Saeima Vice-Chairperson Maira Dzelzkaleja-Burmistre in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Aseradens elected as chairman of Unity; Krisjanis Karins to lead party’s city council faction

Unity elected Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens as the new chairman of the party. MEP Krisjanis Karins has been elected as the party’s leader in Riga City Council with Santa Zarane as his deputy.

LPS manager: forming the budget, it is important for municipal funding to stay the same

In the formation process of the next year’s state budget, it is necessary to guarantee finances do not reduce for municipalities, said the chairman of Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments Gints Kaminskis in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Police to organize inspections in stores; parents asked to watch their children as well

For the new school year, Riga Municipal Police will be performing regular inspections at stores, bars and cafes from 21 August to 31 August, as well as the first days of September, to make sure minors are not sold alcohol and tobacco products, BNN was told by police.

Colder masses of air to enter Latvia this week; more rain expected

This week’s weather in Latvia will be dictated by a cyclone hovering above Northern Europe. Colder masses of air will flow into the country. A lot of rain is expected in Latvia this week, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Kirsis asks police to assess possible forging of votes at Riga City Council

Riga City Council’s Unity faction chairman Vilnis Kirsis has asked State Police to check if the city council’s electronic voting system was used without another deputy’s knowledge or consent, said the politician.

Expert: attack in Spain shows how terrorists switched to more easily reachable targets

Terrorist attacks that transpired in Spain this week shows how terrorists have switched to more easily reachable targets, where security requirements are not as strict, says Latvian National Defence Academy’s Security and Strategic Research Centre researcher Martins Hirss.

New mandatory tests in schools to be introduced four years from now

In four years’ time – 2021/2022 school year – it is planned to introduce completely new mandatory tests in schools, as reported by State Education Content Centre Director Guntars Catlaks.

Nearly 9,000 children and their parents got homes thanks to state support programme

In the first half-year of 2017, state support helped 1,527 families in Latvia to buy homes. Compared with last year, families’ demand for state support has grown 6%, as reported by Altum finance institute.

Prediction: Aseradens will likely take control over Unity

Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens will become the head of Unity, Betsafe bookmakers predict. The possibility of Aseradens becoming the head of the party is given 45% probability by Betsafe.

Provisional estimate for next year’s fiscal space in Latvia is EUR 60 million

Next year’s fiscal space has been estimated at EUR 60 million, as noted by Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, adding that a more precise estimate will be available at the end of August.

Reconstruction of Vilnius airport runway concludes; aircraft return to Vilnius

On Thursday, 17 August, Vilnius airport’s runway was festively opened. This was the most massive reconstruction for the airport in the past 20 years. It was a unique project for Lithuania and all of Europe, airport representatives say.