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Wednesday 16.01.2019 | Name days: Lida, Lidija
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BNN summary of the week: 13th Saeima’s meeting; expensive medicines; continued government formation in Latvia

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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: Progress; Announcement; Expectations; Plea; Decision; Saeima.

PROGRESS: first round of talks has made government formation one step closer in Latvia

The first round of talks with potential cooperation partners has made successful government formation one step closer in Latvia, says New Conservative Party’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns.

Politicians told journalists they view the chances of successfully forming the government as 80% to 20%.

Bordāns said the first phase of government formation talks concluded today with all parties eligible to enter the Saeima – KPV LV, Attīstībai/Par!, National Alliance ‘All for Latvia!’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ and New Unity.

During the second talk organized by representatives of KPV LV and NCP on 8 November, both sides affirmed intentions to support one another in the formation of Bordāns’ government, said KPV LV politician Aldis Gobzems. He said his political party generally supports NCP’s offered strategy for talks. The politician stressed that his party will consequently support Bordāns as a prospective prime minister candidate.

When asked about posts in the government KPV LV wants to take, Gobzems said his party has multiple requests and candidates. Bordāns has been informed as much. The politician said he will not mention any specific posts, adding that this is the responsibility of the prime minister candidate, so the question should be addressed to Bordāns. KPV LV representative reminded that the state president has publicly announced his prime minister candidate. Gobzems said he is prepared to work in the Cabinet of Ministers alongside Bordāns.

Full article here

ANNOUNCEMENT: 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.

He says adoption of a verification system will require significant investments from medicine producers. With that, price rise for medicines is unavoidable. «We have to consider how this will affect patients, because medicines will most definitely become more expensive. For example, Grindeks has to invest several million euros to implement serialization requirements. Equipment manufacturers are happy – their business will definitely bloom,» said Bundulis.

At the same time, he says counterfeit medicines are not distributed by legal pharmacies, which are subject to the new system. The internet is used to distribute those products. This is why it is important to explain to patients that buying medicines on the internet comes with risk of purchased medicines having a detrimental effect on their health.

On top of that, it is nearly impossible to identify counterfeit medicines distributors on the internet. If patients purchase low-quality medicines in pharmacies, it is clear who suppliers and distributors are. Additionally, they have to compensate damages caused by their medicines. «Legislation and patients’ rights are very clear and guaranteed,» said Bundulis.

Full article here

EXPECTATIONS: New military court in Estonia could improve discipline in army

Ex-commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Johannes Kert has proposed the reintroduction of a separate military court system that judging by the war-related court proceedings in Ukraine would increase military discipline in the Baltic country.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Kert, currently an MP, has the support to the idea from opposition Reform Party faction, both the Ministry of Justice and the head of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee are not in favour.

«In Ukraine the first problem was that the mobilisation [of its forces] was extremely chaotic, and the way the civil courts dealt with deserters and service evaders varied greatly,» Kert was cited as saying to ERR’s Vikerraadio. «Punishments ranged from fines to seven, eight-year prison sentences. The uneven application [of the law] and glacial speed of the courts caused a lot of confusion.»

Full article here

PLEA: a new economic crunch is probable but Lithuania can handle it

There are still no clear reasons to send calls of distress, but media, that one in the Baltics too, is abuzz – pundits say is a new economic downturn might not be far. Yet when it comes to assessing the scope of it, the predictions vary as much as the garden-variety experts.

According to analysts from investment bank JP Morgan, for example, the recession in two years’ time will be less damaging than the 2008 crash, yet U.S. shares could drop by 20 per cent, well below the 54 per cent tumble in the S&P 500 index a decade ago.

With the Baltic financial sector executives’ ears tuned to the more or less gloomier forecasts, Vilius Šapoka, the Lithuanian Minister of Finance, insists that one should be ready for anything, and for recession too, but as much important is «not to talk an illness into the body which is still pretty healthy».

«We always ought to get ready for hard times. In Lithuania, we have learnt good lessons from the 2008 economic meltdown and, for the third consecutive year, we are accumulating financial reserves. This is the first time in our history that we see it happening for three years in a row,» Šapoka said last week. «Equally important is not to talk an illness into yourself,» he added.

Mantas Zalatorius, president of Lithuania’s Association of Banks (LAB), is also confident that Lithuanian banks are very well prepared for any financial shake-ups ahead.

Full article here

DECISION: Corruption watchdog requests criminal prosecution of persons of illegal financing of political parties

Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has asked Prosecutor General’s Office to commence criminal prosecution of Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis and businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš for illegally financing the Union of Greens and Farmers. Krūmiņš is also accused of illegally financing For Latvia from the Heart.

According to the information from CPCB, Truksnis is asked to be prosecuted not only for illegally financing political parties but also forging and using forged documents.

Krūmiņš is asked to be prosecuted for two crimes associated with illegal financing of political parties.

Based on information reported by CPCB, it is assumed an official of Jurmala City Council had agreed with Krūmiņš on using a third person to illegally finance political parties during municipal elections.

Krūmiņš used his bank account to transfer large sums of money to political parties. Truksnis then informed Krūmiņš that ‘donations’ were not received. Krūmiņš contacted ‘supporters’ and their mediators and Jurmala City Council official, revealing the names of said ‘supporters’ and their associates.

Full article here

SAEIMA: 6 November – 13th Saeima’s first meeting

The 13th Saeima will gather for its first meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 November. Representatives of parties and associations elected to the Saeima had agreed on the meeting’s agenda beforehand, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

In accordance with rules detailed in the Constitution, the first meeting of the newly elected Saeima will be opened by 12th Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece. It is planned the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis will also read a greeting speech to the new parliament.

The first order of business for the new Saeima is electing vote-counters and temporary Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee. Members of this committee check election materials and complaints regarding elections, if such were submitted to the Central Election Commission. This committee also prepares reports for the Saeima about approval of deputies’ authority, the parliament explains.

Full article here


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Karolis Sankovski appointed as chairman of RB Rail council

A new council chairman has been appointed in Baltic joint company RB Rail. Riia Sillave and Edvīns Bērziņš were picked as vice-chairmen, as the company reports.

airBaltic carried record number of passengers in 2018 – 4.1 million

Latvian airBaltic airline carried a total of 4,136,711 passengers to different destinations in 2018. This is 17% more when compared to 2017. The number of passengers carried in 2018 is airBaltic’s all-time highest, as BNN was told by the company.

KPV LV to decide on dismissing Kaimiņš as vice-chairman of party’s faction

KPV LV party’s Saeima faction plans to discuss the proposal of dismissing Artuss Kaimiņš from the post of the faction’s vice-chairman.

Latvian minister sceptical about abolishing MPC system without litigations

Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens does not expect abolishment of the mandatory procurement component system this year to pass without litigations.

Latvian parties agree on 90% of content of coalition cooperation agreement

Parties of the forming coalition move towards a cooperation model in which matters are resolved based on the principle of consensus, says prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš from New Unity.

What do Britons actually want? Reactions from EU politicians

Commenting on the rejected deal of UK withdrawal, leaders of the European Union and member states, which are British neighbours, are seeking clarity over the exit scenario London would prefer if the British really want to leave.

Ministry fails to coordinate decision regarding Riga City Council’s dismissal

On Tuesday, 15 January, Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry failed to coordinate the latest redaction of the decision project On the Dismissal of Riga City Council, because the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments and Latvian Association of Large Cities objected it.

UK rejects Brexit deal, May faces no-confidence vote

British Prime Minister Theresea May hopes to overcome a vote of no confidence in her government, following the rejection of her Brexit deal in the UK Parliament.

Is polygamy the answer for Latvia? «Demographic affairs expert» Parādnieks is the man for the job!

The government formation process in Latvia is progressing slowly and painfully. It is as though a ship without navigation – Latvia has yet to find its way in the ocean of political roads. And this ocean I full of «icebergs» Latvia keeps bumping against. The latest one is National Alliance’s official candidate, an «expert» at resolving demographic problems Imants Parādnieks.

Latvian government approves unified requirements for road and street construction quality

On Tuesday, 15 January, Latvian government approved a project of rules from the Cabinet of Ministers. The goal of this project is ensuring rational use of public funds for road and street construction.

Strike in German airports cancels hundreds of flights

Several hundred flights have been cancelled in German airports on January 15, because of strike as part of an airport worker wage dispute. Germany's powerful Verdi union has announced the strike would last from 02:00 am until 8:00 pm local time at the airports of Frankfurt, Munich, Hanover, Bremen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden and Erfurt.

Saeima proposes applying labour protection requirements for topical employment trends

Considering the emergence of new forms of employment, when work is often performed remotely outside company premises, it is necessary to adapt labour protection requirements.

Opinion: final decision for next Daugavpils mayoral candidate is not yet made

Although on Thursday, 17 January, Daugavpils City Council plans to elect a new mayor and Andrejs Elksniņš is mentioned among the candidates, the final decision has yet to be made, claims former mayor Rihards Eigims, who was dismissed in November.

Tallinn Port sees record passenger number of 10.6 million

Estonia's largest passenger port in Tallinn has registered 11th year of growth in passenger numbers as the year 2018 has ended with a total of 10.6 million passengers.

Additional funding requested for continuation of publication of KGB files

Constitution Protection Bureau’s Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism requests additional funding of EUR 51,976 to continue financing the digitization of remaining KGB files before 30 April.

Latvian authorities announce influenza epidemic in the country

Last week, the number of patients with flu in Valmiera reached the threshold of an epidemic – 163.6 cases per 100,000 residents. With that, 15 January was declared the beginning of an influenza epidemic in Latvia, BNN was told by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Government declaration proposals may cost Latvia EUR 600 million this year

If all proposals submitted for the government declaration were to be implemented this year, it would require an additional amount of EUR 660 million, prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš told journalists.

Stabbed Polish mayor dies

In Poland, the long-time mayor of Gdańsk Paweł Adamowicz has died after doctors were unable to save him following a knife attack during a charity event.

Police: cocaine shipment from Ecuador was not meant for Latvian market

The shipment of cocaine sent from Ecuador and intercepted in Koknese was likely not meant for Latvian market, says Chief of State Police Main Criminal Police Department Andrejs Grišins.

Forming government in Latvia may develop new Local Governments Law

Prime minister candidate Krišjāņis Kariņš’s formed government could develop a new Local Government Law, according to information compiled for government declaration ideas from members of the work group.

«Osinovskis’ million» case: Elksniņš requested money «for KNAB»

Several years ago there was a scandal caused by the announcement made by the now former investigator of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) and now Saeima deputy Juris Jurašs that he was offered a two million euros bribe in the LDz corruption case.

Businessman Martinsons’ fast loan company’s paid interest compost most of Ameriks’ income

A month ago, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performed 30 searches and detained 7 people as part of an investigation of possible corruptive activities at Rīgas satiksme. Among those people is Honour to Serve Riga political party member Aleksandrs Krjačeks.

Bank: this year’s priority will be restoring finance sector’s reputation

This year’s priority will be ensuring sustainable development and restoration of the finance sector’s reputation, says chairman of Baltic International Bank Viktors Bolbats.

Weather in Latvia to be chilly and windy this week

Weather will be volatile in Latvia this week – a reasonable amount of thaw along with chilly air is expected. Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre predicts strong wind and plenty of precipitation.

Week in Lithuania. Ruling LFGU initiates referendum to reduce number of MPs

Members of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union will collect signatures for a referendum to reduce the size of the parliament.