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Tuesday 13.11.2018 | Name days: Jevgēņija, Jevgēņijs, Eižens

BNN summary of the week: 13th Saeima candidates; Europe’s G-Spot; Latvia’s digital government

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Announcement; Proposal; Expenses; Change; Opposition; Accusation.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Sixteen parties and party union candidate lists to participate in 13th Saeima elections

Submission period for candidate lists for 13th Saeima elections has officially concluded in Latvia. Latvia’s Centrist Party and Par Alternatīvu were the last parties to have submitted their candidate lists.

With that, a total of sixteen parties and party unions have submitted candidate lists for 13th Saeima elections. This is also three more candidate lists when compared to 2014 Saeima elections.

Latvia’s Centrist Party has 23 deputy candidates and Par Alternatīvu party has 37 candidates. Both lists were submitted in all regions included in Saeima elections – Riga, Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale.

Central Election Commission reports that a total of 1,470 candidates will be taking part in upcoming elections. Fifteen candidates will be competing for each of the 100 seats in the Saeima. Compared to the previous elections, the number of candidates has increased – 1,156 candidates participated in Saeima elections in 2014.

Among the 13th Saeima candidates 68.3% are men and 31.7% are women. 79.2% of candidates have higher education, 20.3% have secondary education, and 0.5% of candidates only have primary education.

24.3% of candidates are aged 31 to 40 and 23.7% are aged 51 to 60. The average age of 13th Saeima candidates is 44.6 years. The oldest candidate is 88, and the youngest is 21.

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PROPOSAL: Apostolic visit to Lithuania: calls for Church to reveal expenditure now

Ahead of the papal visit on September 22-23, Lithuanian authorities and the Lithuanian Catholic Church have started putting together a budget for the event to make sure it goes smoothly. Most of the Lithuanian institutions in charge of it have already delivered initial estimates, however the Catholic Church insists it will make its financial reports public only after the visit.

Vilnius Archdiocese argues that the calculating of the costs is tentative and is subject to change. However, Diana Vilytė, head of Lithuania’s Public Procurement Office, exhorts the Church to reveal the numbers now.

In early July, the Lithuanian government decided to remunerate 1.75 million euros of costs related to preparations for the upcoming two-day visit of Pope Francis.

The bulk – over 1.2 million euros – will be allocated to the Catholic Church of Lithuania via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And the VIP Protection Department will receive up to 248,000 euros via the Ministry of the Interior.

Vilnius authorities are set to get up to 109,000 euros, and Kaunas authorities – up to 163,000 euros. Over 28,000 euros will be allocated to the Ministry of Health.

Government Vice Chancellor Alminas Mačiulis, who chaired the papal visit’s working group’s meeting in late July, expressed hope that the apostolic visit will cost less.

«We are trying to specify and discuss things, based on tender results and market prices, what we should spend the money on and what would be excessive,» Mačiulis said.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Catholic Church has said in a statement that the Government’s foreseen amount of 1.7 million can be «too big for a pope who is modest and shying any luxury».

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FUTURE:  LMT says digitizing paper documents cannot be considered digital state management

Transforming paper documents to electronic format cannot be considered digital state management, says Latvian mobile communications operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons president Juris Binde.

He says the idea for digital state management is a matter of understanding. «Many officials believe that if we transform paper documents in electronic format, we will get digital state management. This does not work in reality, because we would require changing processes, not documents. Transferring paper documents to the electronic environment does not change a thing,» explains Binde.

Binde says it is necessary to raise ICT competence in state administration. «Most e-project failures are directly associated with incompetence of the client and oddities of the procurement system. If one large system is divided into four parts and auctioned off to different developers, it should come as no surprise when those four systems become incompatible with one another. It is a miracle when they do, however,» says Binde.

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EXPENSES: Latvian government promises higher pension indexation for 2018

On 1 October, pensions and benefits or their parts that do not exceed EUR 382 will be increased, says Latvia’s Welfare Ministry.

This means all pensions and benefits that are not larger than EUR 382 will be indexed. Pensions and benefits larger than EUR 382 will be indexed only for part of the paid amount – EUR 382. The increase will depend on the pension and benefit amount, as well as the applied index. Exceptions include politically repressed persons, Group 1 invalids and participants of Chernobyl disaster cleanup operation. Their pensions will be indexed for the full amount, the ministry explains.

Welfare Ministry notes that the index to be applied for retirement, invalidity, survivors’ pensions and insurance indemnities will be 1.0590.

«One novelty is that with 2018 onward, retirement pension indexation will be using different indexes that will depend on a person’s work history. The larger the work history, the larger the index will be applied and the larger pension increase people can expect,» the ministry explains.

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CHANGE: «G-spot» of Europe» – Vilnius’ new tourism slogan

Vilnius, the capital of mostly Catholic Lithuania, has launched a new, sexually-coloured tourism campaign, where the city is compared to a hidden point of female sexual pleasure.

«Nobody knows where it is but when you find it – it’s amazing,» reads the expanded slogan on the web site, where visitors are invited to build their «personal pleasure map» of the Lithuanian capital.

British news portal The Independent reports that critics from the Catholic clergy have questioned the timing of the campaign in a country where the majority of residents identify as Catholic.

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OPPOSITION: Minister refuses to meet with Vairāk saules restaurant owners; representatives dissatisfied

Latvian Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis believes he has no right to become involved in State Police’s handled criminal case launched against Vairāk saules restaurant network. Because of that, he has decided to not meet with owners of the network and representatives of Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss this matter.

Representatives of Vairāk saules network say by doing this the minister is trying to avoid his direct duties.

One of its members turned to LCCI, requesting assistance in resolving the situation that formed in relation to investigative measures performed by State Police – the company’s inability to recover documents and information previously confiscated during searches and needed to perform business activities. LCCI told the minister that it is necessary to search for solutions to avert risks for the restaurant network’s continued function and discuss the possibility of amending some regulations in the process.

Interior Affairs Ministry explains that the minister values the support LCCI provides to Latvian businessmen by representing their interests in efforts to sort out the business environment. Nevertheless, the ministry notes that criminal investigations are governed by law, and the minister is not authorized to supervise the criminal process.

The minister also added that the judge who authorized the search details in documents the items confiscated during the search and their relation to the case. This means the judge is the one responsible for explaining what is and what is not important to any specific criminal case.

The minister has no reason to doubt if actions performed by the investigator and supervision provided by the judge over the criminal process were in accordance with requirements of the law, the interests of the national economy, and without unjustified interference in the company’s economic activities.

The minister believes necessary criminal procedure activities in the aforementioned criminal process should be performed as quickly as possible.

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ACCUSATION: SES chief accused of hiding transactions worth EUR 300,000 from her income declaration

State Environment Service manager Inga Koļegova failed to disclose transactions worth EUR 300,000 in her income declaration, according to information the prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s office has submitted the criminal case to Riga City Latgale Suburb Court. The viewing of the case is scheduled for 27 September.

The prosecutor office told the press that the person is accused of detailing false information in their income declaration.

According to the decision to submit the criminal case to the court, in their income declarations for 2013, 2014, and 2015, the state official did not include information regarding their real estate property, transactions worth more than 20 minimal monthly wages, as well as other information associated with the official’s material state.

The official also did not detail large transactions worth more than EUR 300,000 in their income declaration. In their declaration for 2014 and 2015, the official detailed false information regarding transactions worth more than EUR 600,000, the prosecutor’s office report.

As previously reported, an inspection was commenced on 7 September 2016 in relation to problems with Koļegova’s income declaration and possible violations.

Because of Unity’s opposition, the government postponed Koļegova’s approval as SRS director general. She was proposed for the post by the Union of Greens and Farmers and the National Alliance. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis announced later that he will check Unity’s submitted information regarding Koļegova and the dividends she received from Pallogs. On 12 August, Koļegova announced her decision to withdraw her candidacy.

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Healthcare Minister: there will be funding for State Emergency Medical Service

Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša has decided to support State Emergency Medical Service’s plan for organization of work. She has confirmed that funding to cover pay for extended work hours will be allocated next year, as reported by Healthcare Ministry’s Communication Office director Oskars Šneiders.

Unemployment level in Latvia remained at 6.1% in October

In October 2018 unemployment in Latvia was at 6.1% of the country’s economically active residents, according to information from the State Employment Agency.

NAF Commander: tensions on a rise in the world, but Latvia can sleep peacefully

The political situation in the world develops in accordance with a sinusoidal principle – sometimes tensions increase, sometimes things calm down, said Commander of Latvian Armed Forces Leonīds Kalniņš in an interview to LNT.

Construction production output in Latvia up 10.3% in Q3

Compared to Q3 2017, construction output increased by 10.3 % in Q3 2018. Construction output rise was observed in construction of buildings (of 9.2 %), civil engineering (5.7 %) and specialised construction activities (19.7 %).

Brexit talks until 2.25am result in UK seeing progress toward deal

The British government, its representatives and negotiators of the European Union have spent a considerable part of the night to Monday, November 12, to make at least a few steps into the direction of the burning deal on the UK leaving the bloc.

Corruption watchdog takes notice of Jurmala mayor’s expensive and undeclared furniture

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has taken notice of several units of expensive furniture Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis had purchased for his personal needs by spending an amount of money larger than his salary in the municipal office. On top of that, these purchases do not show up in his declaration, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Border guards find nearly 30,000 counterfeit impotence treatment pills in person’s luggage

During a regular baggage inspection at Riga International Airport, officers of the State Border Guard found a large number of prescribed medicines for treatment of impotence in some passenger’s baggage.

Swedbank joins Europe’s flash transaction system

Continuing development of its digital services, Swedbank has joined Europe’s flash transaction system. This means that additionally to immediate transaction processing for transactions within Swedbank network in Baltic States, clients can also receive flash transaction processing with other European banks that support this system...

Not listening! Ukraine rebels hold «elections», deaf to criticism from Kyiv, West

In eastern Ukraine, Russia-aided separatists have held parliamentary and presidential «elections» with acting leaders expected to win the vote branded as illegitimate by Ukraine, France and Germany.

Rīgas satiksme’s debts come close to 300 million; Ušakovs says company is doing well

Riga City Council has voted in favour of allocating an additional grant of EUR 22 million to Rīgas satiksme. This means this year the company has cost the city EUR 123 million, reminds Nekā personīga.

In pictures: World powers mark 100 years since end of World War I

While many Eastern and Nordic European nations mark 100 years since the establishment of their statehood, for Western Europe the year 2018 is the centenary since the end of the First World War.

New Unity wants to be in charge of Environment Ministry in Latvia’s new government

New Unity wants to be in charge of Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry in the new government, says New Unity politician, Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Poland marks centenary since founding of its modern independence

Poland has marked a century since the establishment of modern national independence of Poland on Sunday as more than 200,000 people marched through the capital.

California hit by deadliest wildfires since 1933

31 people have lost their lives in wildfires currently raging in the U.S. state of California, as over 200 hundred people are unaccounted for, according to statements by local authorities.

Air temperature to remain above 0° C in Latvia this week; strong wind expected

This week’s weather conditions in Latvia will remain similar to previous weeks – air temperature above 0° C with clouds covering the sky. Some sunlight is expected every now and then, however. Precipitation and strong wind is expected in many of Latvia’s territories, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Conservatives pick Simonyte as presidential candidate

Lithuania's opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats has picked MP and former Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte as the party's presidential candidate in a primary election held last weekend.

BNN summary of the week: 13th Saeima’s meeting; expensive medicines; continued government formation in Latvia

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Announcement; Expectations; Plea; Decision; Saeima.

Study: 56% of Latvian residents provide support to their retired parents

More than half of Latvian residents provide support to their retired parents. 30% of residents provide financial assistance, according to results of a study by SKDS and INVL pension fund.

Bank of Latvia governor made suspect in another criminal process headed by CPCB

Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, governor of the Bank of Latvia, has been made suspect in another criminal process investigated by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Export volumes in Latvia up 5.1% in September; timber remains at the top

In September 2018 foreign trade turnover of Latvia amounted to EUR 2.42 billion, which at current prices was 5.1 % more than in September 2017, of which the exports value of goods was 1.0 % lower, but imports value of goods was 10.3 % higher.

Party asks ministry to assess if Riga mayor acted legally by not viewing tax matter

Riga City Council’s National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ has turned to Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Kaspars Gerhards with a request to evaluate the decision of Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs to exclude from the agenda the matter on real estate tax discounts, as confirmed by the party’s representative Edvards Ratnieks.

Norvik Banka changes name to PNB Banka

As of 9 November Norvik Banka Group is known as PNB Banka. The bank will continue providing all of its services without complications. All contracts and agreements signed with AS Norvik Banka remain in force. Communication with customers will continue as usual in all of the bank’s branch offices in Latvia, as confirmed by PNB Banka communication manager Vineta Vilistere-Lāce.

Grindeks: medicines to become more expensive because of new European requirements

Due to the adoption of a verification system to check safety of medicines, medicines are expected to become more expensive, said Juris Bundulis, board chairman of Grindeks.

Vivid selection of Latvian culture on offer in Tartu for 9 days

The Estonian city of Tartu is hosting nine days of selected Latvian culture events up until the centennial of Latvia on November 18. The events begun on Friday with the opening of the photography exhibition by internationally acclaimed photographer Zaiga Šteina.

Separatists in Ukraine to hold disputed elections

Russia-aided separatists in eastern Ukraine will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in two self-proclaimed republics this weekend, despite of criticism from Kyiv and the European Union.

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