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Monday 22.01.2018 | Name days: Austris
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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Energy Minister discusses energy imports from U.S.

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Lituanian Minister of Energy Rokas Masiulis

Energy Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, Rokas Masiulis has met Lisa Murkowski, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on his visit to the United States of America. The meeting focused on export opportunities of energy resources from the U.S. to Europe and Lithuania.

The goal of the Lithuanian Minister‘s visit was to enhance bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and the US in the area of energy, to share experience as regards energy security and implementation of strategic energy projects. On Wednesday, September 30, Masiulis delivered a report at Georgetown University about Lithuania’s leadership in the European Energy Security Policy.

Lithuanian Seimas wants more authority on refugee resettlement

A group of Lithuanian MPs have suggested that parliament should have a say on issues concerning refugee resettlement. Meanwhile the ruling Social Democratic Party has offered a political agreement among the major parties, saying that an issue as sensitive as asylum seekers should not be made the topic for electoral campaigning. Meanwhile a group of five MPs have suggested including into the legislation that any decisions on refugee resettlement in Lithuania need the approval from parliament.

According to the MPs, the issue is of great relevance to national politics and therefore the Seimas of Lithuania should have a say. The opposition, however, is sceptical about such an agreement, saying that the ruling majority should first put together a plan on how to integrate asylum seekers. Lithuania has pledged to accept 1,105 refugees over the coming two years as part of the European Union’s effort to deal with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

PM‘s advisor slags off Lithuanian president‘s UN appearance

Raimundas Lopata, political scientist and advisor to the Lithuanian PM has slammed the foreign policy of President Dalia Grybauskaitė, saying in an interview published on Friday that her recent speech at the United Nations was« sterile». «The country‘s foreign policy is void of substantial steps, there are no attempts to build partner coalitions in pursuit of national interests,» Lopata said in the interview to the daily Lietuvos Rytas. He added that «Lithuania is no longer seen in international politics as an actor.»

Lithuanian and Finnish cooperation must be bolstered

Lithuania must strengthen cooperation with Finland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius said when meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Timo Soini. He was visiting Lithuania, to discuss bilateral political and economic relations, regional cooperation and key issues on European agenda, including migration, the security situation in the region, relationship with Russia, the situation in Ukraine, cooperation in the fields of energy and transport.

Committees of Baltic Assembly to mull GMO regulation in Baltic States

The Baltic Assembly‘s (BA) Economics, Energy and Innovations Committee and Natural Resources and Environment Committee convened on Friday, October 2, in Kaunas to discuss the influence of the Russian embargo and the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Baltic states. Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vilius Martusevičius delivered a report on the implementation of the BA‘s recommendations for agriculture.

Lithuanian parliament tightens instant credit loan issuance

The Seimas has approved amendments to the Law on Consumer Credit which are aimed at regulating the consumer credit market in order to promote responsibility of consumer credit lenders and their clients. Sixty-one MPs voted in support of the amendments, two voted against with six abstentions. However, parliament has to vote a second time to pass the amendments.

The changes will tighten consumer credit advertising regulations. Based on the proposal, it would be prohibited to advertise consumer credit during the events for people younger than 18 years of age or in the advertisements of such events. Information about the activities of consumer credit lender or consumer credit mediator and services proposed will have to be correct, clear and not misleading.

The so-called night credits would be prohibited striving to protect consumers, especially those who abuse concluding consumer credit agreements. As the annual percentage rate of charge for consumer credit was until now at a maximum of 200 percent, it raised doubts whether it meets fair business practice and if such an amount is always fair or is in line with consumer interests. It was proposed to regulate consumer credit prices by establishing a two-stage system. Consumer credit agreement would establish consumer credit interest of up to 75 percent.

Numbers of older people on the rise

Statistics Lithuania has published demographic data on the occasion of the Day of Older Persons. It shows that the number of older people is on the rise in the country. People aged 65 and older constituted 15.8 percent of the Lithuanian population in early 2005. Meanwhile by early 2015 the share has increased to 18.7 percent. This year, 547,100 Lithuanian residents were aged 65 and older. 149,100 or 27.3 percent of them were aged 80 and older. 368 people were older than 100 years of age. Moreover, women aged 65 and older accounted for 66.4 percent of all people of this age group. In addition, there were 2.7 times more women than men aged 80 and older. Based on employment study, 5.7 percent of people aged 65 and older were employed in 2014.

Construction of Vilnius railway bypass finished

A second line of Vilnius Railway Bypass has been constructed and will enable to divert freight trains from the city centre. Railway traffic will become safer as a result and hazardous material pollution risk will be reduced. Kyviškės-Valčiūnai Bypass Project worth over 50 million euro was implemented by Lithuania Railways. It will allow directing freight cargoes from the city. The European Union funded 85 percent of the project while Lithuanian Railways funded 15 percent. In addition to the aforementioned changes, two underground pedestrian crossings, a viaduct and a single-level pedestrian crossing were erected. More than 5 km of sound absorbing walls were built and 200 windows in residential buildings were replaced.

EU offsets Lithuanian haulage service losses in Russia

Exports of transport services to Russia is offset by providing more of these services to the European Union (EU) countries, show the results released by the Bank of Lithuania. According to the report, the most rising exports markets are to Austria, Denmark and France. While the exports of transport services to Russia have fallen by more than 40 percent in the first half of the year, the total volume of transport services‘ export fell by only 1.78 percent, according to the Minister of Transport and Communications, Rimantas Sinkevičius. In the assessment of Lithuania‘s export of transport services to the EU, the largest market is in Germany, with France and Denmark being in the second and third places respectively.

Sweden‘s royal couple to pay visit to Lithuania

At the invitation of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and his wife Queen Silvia will arrive on an official state visit to Lithuania on October 7-9. Along with the royal couple, Lithuania will be visited by Sweden‘s ministers of foreign affairs, enterprise and innovation, and defence and the Swedish business delegation of representatives of the country’s largest companies.

Lithuanians in Ireland celebrate anniversary of Lithuanian pilot‘s trans-Atlantic flight

Lithuanians flooded the small Irish town of Ballinrobe, in the west of the country, on September 25-27 for the traditional event «We Still Need Wings». The celebrations were meant to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the feat of a Lithuanian pilot who crossed the Atlantic in 1935.

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Latvenergo: Latvia is the largest energy exporter in Baltic States

Latvia continues exporting electrical energy produced in the country – as of Monday, 22 January, it was 832 MW. Especially intensive energy production is recorded for Daugava’s hydro-electric power plants and Riga’s CHP plants. The largest import volume is registered for Lithuania, to which the amount of exported energy equals the amount consumed in Latvia, Latvenergo explains.

LALRG secretary general: we have to reduce gap in quality of life for EU citizens

Ever since Latvia joined the European Union, its population has declined 14%. The most significant decline was caused by the departure of residents of working age to other EU member states. Because of that, the population in eastern regions of Latvia has declined 23%.

Czechs up for close race in this week's presidential run-off

As the Czech Republic nears the second round of its presidential election this weekend, sociologists estimate that the pro-Western academic Jiří Drahoš enjoys a somewhat larger support than the incumbent Miloš Zeman, who easily won the first round.

Producer price level in Latvia’s industry up 3.1%

Compared to December 2016, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 3.1 % in December 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 3.0 %, while prices of exported products went up by 3.3 %. Prices of products exported to euro area countries grew by 3.8 %, whereas prices of products exported to non-euro area countries rose by 2.9 %.

MEP: an even greater UGF dominance would slow down Latvia’s development

If the Union of Greens and Farmers (UGF) gains an even greater presence in the upcoming Saeima elections, Latvia’s continued development would suffer, said member of the European Parliament Artis Pabriks in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Tax reform challenge in January: labour tax recalculation

2018 commenced for Latvia with a historical tax reform and conceptual changes, significantly affecting everyday work performed by businessmen, employers and accountants. One of the changes financial specialists have to remember when calculating wages for January is the one for personal income tax, which also includes changes for state social insurance fees and solidarity tax, BNN was told by accounting experts.

Total tax debts in Latvia reach 1.217 billion euros at beginning of 2018

At the beginning of the year, total tax debts in Latvia, including existing debts, halted debts and debts with extended repayment debts, reached EUR 1.217 billion, which is 3% less when compared with the previous month, as reported by the State Revenue Service.

Estonia emphasises animal welfare as demand for animal food products grows

Although the demand for food products from animals is increasing, attention should be paid both animal welfare and sustainability in agriculture, Estonia's Minister for Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm has stated.

Latvia hopes to recover its status as a country free of swine fever

There is hope that Latvia may yet recover its status of a country free of swine fever, says Food and Veterinary Service’s (FVS) Animal Infections Monitoring Department lead expert Mārtiņš Seržants.

Estonia prepares to inform population of actions in case of emergency or war

Estonia is preparing a brochure on how its population should act in case of major crisis or war.

De Facto: international lawsuit against Latvia is associated with infamous Winergy case

Norvik Bank’s lawsuit against Latvian state in the international court of arbitration in Washington is associated with Winergy wind park business, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. The bank has yet to announce the amount of money it wishes to enforce from the state

German Social Democrats vote to U-turn on coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives

In Germany, where four months after its federal parliamentary elections there is still no government, the Social Democrats have voted to enter coalition talks with the conservatives led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Weather in Latvia to become warmer this week; thaw to settle in

Weather in Latvia will be dictated by an anticyclone at the beginning of the week. Precipitation is only expected in some areas, mostly in the north. The sky will be cloudy for the most part. Still some sun is expected every now and then, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Turkey crosses into Syria to attack Kurdish militia

Turkey's ground forces have entered the territory of neighbouring Syria strengthening Ankara's offensive to push Kurdish militia, considered to be terrorists by Turkey, away from the border.

Week in Lithuania. Fake news on Lithuanian Defence Minister planted on news portal

The Tv3. lt news website was hacked on Thursday, January 18 - a fake news story about Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis was posted claiming that Karoblis allegedly harassed Ridas Jasiulionis, a journalist at the Žinių Radijas radio station, and admitted being gay.

BNN summary of the week: final report on Oligarchs case and ordered attacks on e-health

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Attack; Growth; Decline; Opinion; and Study.

Economist: the most important reform has to happen in people’s heads

«Of all the clever things taught to us in school about psychology, one thing that has stuck with me over the years is the idea of internal/external control point. There are people who believe they make their own fate. There are also people who believe our fate depends on external powers. I suspect people in Latvia explain successes and failures with external factors much more than people in Switzerland or any other country that has enjoyed its freedom longer than Latvia,» comments Luminor Bank’s economist Pēteris Strautiņš.

Minister promises bigger wages for working people and support for country’s industry

«Latvian Economy Ministry’s priorities for 2018 include increasing wages for working people and providing support to the country’s industry. For Latvia’s centenary year, every resident should have the right to experience the increase of the personal and state welfare,» promises Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Latvenergo: electricity price has declined 30% in the past three years

Average electricity price in Latvia has declined in recent years. The average price of electricity has declined by 30% at Nord Pool exchange between 2014 and 2017, allowing end user costs to decline, says Latvenergo.

Alcohol sellers in Estonia to be checked by little «police»

To find shop assistants illegally selling alcohol or tobacco to minors, Estonian police introduces the method of sending minors as police aides to retail shops to try to purchase the products banned to them.

EY study: cyber security has become a priority to banks this year

Over the course of the year, priorities of banks around the world have switched from reputation and risk management to data security matters, as concluded in the latest EY Global Banking Outlook 2018.

Political association: UGF and Harmony are covering up state capture

«Parliamentary investigation of Oligarchs case has shown what is what in the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia. Green farmers are in full harmony, covering up Aivars Lembergs and the fact of state capture. They and Inguna Sudraba have made the parliamentary investigation into a farce. Unfortunately, the power in those people’s hands is no farce – rather misfortune for all of Latvia. I hope citizens will take all that into account when they go voting,» says leader of Kustība Par! Daniels Pavļuts.

Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel plan lacks ambition, says «Angry Birds» game maker

While Finland and Estonia work on plans of an under-sea tunnel from Tallinn to Helsinki, the construction of which could start in the 2030s, a Finnish businessman, previously involved in development of Angy Birds video game, has presented plans to finish the massive construction project in 2024 already.

Experts: healthcare financing law will deny healthcare to the least protected

In a discussion regarding healthcare, experts said that Latvian President Raimonds Vējoņis’ proposed Healthcare Financing Law is economically unjustified and ineffective. The document lacks principles of a socially responsible state, because healthcare is becoming less accessible, which will likely worsen public health indexes, says Kustība Par! political party.

Branded «aggressor state», Russia says Ukraine buries Minsk peace agreements

As the Donbas War continues, the parliament of Ukraine has passed the so-called Donbas reintegration bill after three days of debates defining territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country as temporarily occupied by Russia.

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