bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 29.05.2017 | Name days: Raivis, Raivo, Maksis
LatviaLatvia

Programme: Kucinskis breaches his own commitments

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAt the beginning of the year Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis entrusted the formation of the Cabinet of Ministers to Maris Kucinskis. The Saeima approved his government on 11 February. It was clear from the formation process that the government would not have an easy time, as reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3.

«What is most paradoxical in this situation is that discussions were being held for years about different reforms in education, healthcare, economy and other areas, but no decisions were being made. It means the executive power lacked political will or the freedom to make brave and important decisions. As a result – we were delayed. We were delayed as a country. We got stuck in bureaucratic nuisances and the desire to please everyone,» – Kucinskis said at the 11 February Saeima meeting before the vote.

Kucinskis’ government is best described with the word boredom. Only some ministers stand out in the grey background: chess player Dana Reizniece-Ozola, probability theory specialist Karlis Sadurskis and spare time photographer Dzintars Rasnacs.

It was only possible to make Unity’s education reform active through countless trials and scandals. The healthcare reform governed by the party of the prime minister, meanwhile, is at a standstill. Guntis Belevics left the government at the beginning of summer. He left because of the scandal involving him receiving medical services outside of the proper waiting and paying order. He later lied about the whole story. Healthcare sector, meanwhile, is looking for a way out to resolve the most important matters troubling it – where to find at least EUR 700 million and how to make the system more effective. Efficiency also means narrowing down service accessibility and closure of small hospitals. Kucinskis’ government seems unable to resist municipalities’ lobby efforts. Reform has not even begun and certain regional hospitals are already promised immunity. Health is a priority in words alone, as the government is unable to allocate even a few additional millions, even if lives are at stake.

Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola is also a source of worries for the prime minister. Shortly after taking office she began a witch hunt in the State Revenue Service by creating secret lists of dishonest workers. SRS Director General Inara Petersone could not fight back and decided to step down. According to her, Kucinskis should have stepped in and stopped the destruction of SRS’ authority.

Not a single worthwhile candidate applied to replace Petersone. Because of that, Reizniece-Ozola decided to propose the director of the State Environmental Service Inga Kolegova without announcing a candidate selection process. As it turned out, Kolegova had problems with her income declaration. UGF with Kucinskis at the helm tried blaming Unity for shooting down Kolegova, but they did too much in the end – Kolegova withdrew on her own. She remains the head of SES. Meanwhile, Finance Police continues looking into her declaration.

The State Chancellery announced a new candidate selection process. This time the government decided to tempt potential candidates with promises of a larger wage. SRS is now the responsibility of Ilze Cirule. She now has to decide on lying off several hundred employees to find money for the wage reform. Other problematic matters include the merging of Finance and Customs Police offices and their mutual differences.

The situation is even worse with the search for the new head of the Corruption Prevention Combating Bureau. The selection process failed because none of the ten contenders made it to the second stage. This includes Yaroslav Strelchenok, the current head of KNAB. Kucinskis was shocked with such an outcome and ordered authorities to review the order of approval of the head of KNAB. That never happened. Instead it was decided to reduce requirements for potential candidates.

On 1 December, Maris Kucinskis sorrowfully admitted that uncertainty is the most often used criticism in relation to the country’s economy. Six days later he singlehandedly caused chaos in taxes.

Changes to the Social Tax approved one year ago are expected to come into force 1 January. These changes state that all employed people will have to pay social tax from their salary. This includes part-time workers, micro-enterprise workers and farm workers. Only at the end of the year did politicians finally understand that this change would impact a wide range of people. Micro-enterprises will lose their attractiveness and will be likely forced to lay off employees and go bankrupt.

Aija Barca’s led Social and Employment Matters Committee rushed to create a list of people who will be able to work without paying full social tax. The list turned out so large it was impossible to realize.

This week, Maris Kucinskis unexpectedly announced that the law would not come into force. Next year’s expected problems are bigger than the chaos such a decision has already caused. He blames SRS for not preparing for changes and Laimdota Straujuma’s government for not considering the consequences of this decision.

The biggest problem of this government is the decline of the rate of economic development, which could potentially lead to a crisis. Kucinskis promises growth close to 4-5% in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, nothing really points to such a scenario. GDP growth outlook has dropped to 1% this year. Next year, when an inflow of EU funds is expected in Latvia, GDP will grow by a mere 3%, Bank of Latvia predicts.

In addition, the government cannot hold back the appetite of members of its political parties. The Saeima has allocated more than EUR 20 million of budget funds for different projects seemingly unrelated to the state budget, the programme reports.

Ref: 102.109.109.6001


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. PM: Coalition isn't the best

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, whose government has been in office for half a year, says that the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party differ in their philosophies and approaches to many issues.

BNN summary of the week: Estonian minister disapproves of NATO; Latvia’s tax system lags behind

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Business; Change; Future; Decline; Truth and Growth.

Municipal elections 2017: what do people say?

With municipal elections gradually coming close, BNN offers a compilation of opinions provided by experts from different industries. Short answers consist of thoughts about specific municipalities that affect respondents directly, and municipal administrations in general – what people expect from officials and what changes they expect from elections.

Trade of natural gas to legal clients in Latvia commences

Trade of natural gas to legal clients in Latvia has commenced. Latvenergo’s Elektrum product offers fixed-price contracts for 12-month supply period. The first gas supply contracts have been signed with clients in Latvia, the company reports.

Murniece: the biggest strength of Latvia’s parliament is public involvement

The biggest strength of Latvia’s parliament is the involvement of the public in resolution efforts of matters associated with child and women’s rights, the rights of disabled people, as well as security, tax policy and the European Union, says Saeima speaker Inara Murniece.

Corruption on decline in Lithuania, yet still remains troublesome

To wrap up the findings of a new corruption research ordered by the Special Investigation Service, an institution dealing with financial crimes in Lithuania, the situation is largely improving, yet not as fast as the service wishes.

Ventspils signs agreement with Chinese-Belarusian industrial park Great Stone

Vetnspils Freeport Authority and Ventspils High Technology Park signed an agreement yesterday with Chinese-Belarusian industrial park Great Stone, which is the largest infrastructure development project in Belarus, as reported by the freeport’s representatives.

Resignation filed by arrested Tallinn Deputy Mayor

The Deputy Mayor of the Estonian capital has stepped down from office after being arrested as part of a criminal case into violations of procedural restrictions of Tallinn procurement tenders.

Residents: situation in Latvia is developing in a wrong manner

54% of residents believe the situation in Latvia is currently developing in a wrong manner. A similar situation is noted in relation to the evaluation of the government’s work. 75% of respondents are critical about the government’s work. Only 17% of respondents are positive about the government’s work, according to results of Baltic International Bank Latvian Barometer.

Finance Minister: we have to be ready for flexibility in the reform plan

Currently we have to progress forward with the intended tax reform and prepare for a degree of flexibility, says Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.

Zarins: unlike healthcare workers, Latvia’s roads are crumbling silently

Saeima deputy Ivars Zarins has submitted a proposal that offers restoring State Roads Fund and providing it with funding of 80% of excise tax for oil products. It is also proposed to divert income from vehicle operation tax and road use fee.

Price of oil slides 5%, though exporters decide to uphold production restrictions

Oil price has dropped by around five percent, even though oil-exporting countries have decided to maintain production limits until spring 2018.

Experts: role of free trade agreements to increase – especially with Asia

Latvian businessmen are already sufficiently active in several Asian markets. Their experience shows – these markets have great potential, according to representatives of the European Parliament’s Information Bureau.

Trump steps up pressure on NATO’s «indebted»

All NATO member states should pay their fair share of military expenses, has stated U.S. President Donald Trump in a meeting of NATO member states in Brussels.

Sunday expected to be summer-like hot in Latvia

This Sunday is expected to be summer-like hot, whereas the week after will be cold and rainy, as reported by Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Pensioner guide: old people are isolated from society in Latvia

«In my experience with social care, I was surprised by the dominating belief that the only thing old people need is elementary care – some food, a wash and a walk outside. Psychology of old people is something completely alien to people in Latvia,» says initiator of Pensioners Guide in Latvia Nelli Skadina.

SEB: reimbursements paid to nearly 340 loan clients over the past five years

In five years since the signing of the first loan payment insurance contract, reimbursements have been paid to nearly 240 SEB Bank clients who took loans and experienced unexpected difficulties after.

Number of tourists to Riga up 7% in 2017

In the first three months of 2017, a total of 263.5 thousand people were serviced in Riga’s hotels and tourist accommodations. 221.3 thousand of those tourists were foreign guests. Compared with the same period of last year, the number of tourists has grown 7%.

Estonian capital’s Deputy Mayor arrested over waste management dealings

The Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, Arvo Sarapuu, accused of deliberately violating procedural restrictions an especially large scale as part of a criminal case, has been arrested by the Estonian Internal Security Service.

Saeima ratifies convention on restriction for the use of mercury

On Thursday, 25 May, Latvia’s Saeima ratified Minamata Convention on Mercury. The objective of the convention is protecting people and the environment against anthropogenic emissions and leaks of mercury.

Europe experienced foreign investment records last year

Last year, Europe attracted a record large volume of foreign investments with 5,845 new direct investment projects, which is 15% more than the year before, according to results of EY European Attractiveness Survey.

Electric car charging network expands in Latvia to promote «greener thinking»

The once long-away dream of having cars that run on alternative fuel is now a reality – a special infrastructure network keeps expanding in Latvia to make electric cars more popular, says Motors Latvia BMW Group manager Ivars Norvelis.

Estonian Minister steps down after questioning NATO membership

Estonian Minister of Public Affairs Mihhail Korb has stated he resigns from office after saying he is not in favour of NATO membership.

Construction of a fish freezer commences at Ventspils Freeport

Construction work has commenced in Ventspils industrial territory on Talsu Street 200. Latvian National Fisheries Producers' Organisation plans to build a fish freezer facility there, as reported by Ventspils Freeport.

EC: there is a risk tax reform will increase inequality

There is a risk that Latvian government’s proposed tax reform will increase income inequality in the country instead of lowering it, said head of European Commission’s office in Latvia Inna Steinbuka.