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BNN summary of the week: BATL against oligarchs, Latvian president under fire

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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: Change; Truth; Business; Future and Growth.

CHANGE: Tax avoiders may have to pay for health insurance next year

For residents who do not pay social insurance fees, health insurance fees could be 1% of minimal wage, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Caksa during a meeting of National Council for Trilateral Cooperation on Thursday, 24 August.

It is planned to increase fees to 3% of minimal monthly wage amount and 5% in 2020. Next year, minimal wage in Latvia is planned to be EUR 430. With that, fees are expected to reach EUR 4.30 a month. After two years, this amount will be EUR 21.5 a month, as long as minimal wage is not increased.

As noted in Healthcare Ministry’s developed healthcare funding legislative draft, an insured person is someone who has paid health insurance fees for no less than nine months in a 12-month period.

Full healthcare service amount will be provided to state insured individuals, including children, pensioners, orphans, unemployed and other persons.

Full article here

BUSINESS: grey economy’s presence in fishing industry may be 40%

The total proportion of grey economy in Latvia’s fishing industry may be around 40%, says fish processing company Brivais vilnis chairman Arnolds Babris.

«I think its [grey economy] presence in the fishing industry is roughly the same as it is in the country – around 40%,» said Babris.

He admits there are companies in the industry who do not pay taxes in the full amount. Unfortunately, the process of pushing such businesses from the industry is not going anywhere. Tax avoidance provides businesses with greater advantages to reduce self-cost, rather than improvement of efficiency. It is the duty of state institutions to prevent that, but there has not been a great amount of activity so far.

Babris believes grey economy in the fishing industry may decline only if the government decided to increase non-taxable minimum to EUR 500 instead of raising minimal wages, because it would increase production costs and producers would be forced to raise prices.

Full article here

FIGHT: oligarchs’ established system has to be changed immediately

We have major problems with the established democratic system. This has to be discussed. What are the improvements that we need to prevent a repetition of such a situation, said Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics president Inga Antane when asked about people’s protests at Town Hall Square in her interview to TV24.

Antane said in her interview: «One thing is protesting, and revolutionary ideas have always been with good intentions. But where are the proposals we would need to discontinue this system? Who’s to say the system will not create new oligarchs? The system needs to be changed.»

The expert also mentioned that during 11th Saeima’s era, when the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry was managed by Edmunds Spruds and Antane was his advisor, five initiatives had been launched to improve state administration and prevent the distortions present in the system now.

«At the time we proposed a legislative draft regarding deputies under criminal prosecution. Where is it now? It no longer exists. We prepared and submitted a legislative draft on municipal referendums that would have allowed residents to affect the work performed by municipal governments. Where is it now? It no longer exists. We prepared a legislative draft on reducing the number of deputies in municipal administrations,» Antane comments.

Full article here

DECLINE: 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.

«We have a number of problems. We see unemployment is in decline, dropping to 7.2% in the past three years, whereas the number of employed people remains unchanged. It is a red light for national economy,» explains the minister.

She emphasizes that tax reform alone is not enough to guarantee economic development. Other solutions are needed as well, including qualified labour force. «We hear this more and more often from businessmen,» she added.

Full article here

TRUTH: criticism of president Vejonis causes loud applause

The New Conservative Party’s organized people’s gathering at Town Hall Square this Wednesday, 23 August, gathered more than 400 people. JKP representatives said that people should gather for such meetings every month, because this is how democratic society is formed.

At the beginning of the event, participants sang Latvia’s national anthem. After that, JKP leader Janis Bordans took the stage. He emphasized that the situation currently present in the country – when everything is decided by a small group of people through their mutual agreements – cannot be allowed to continue.

The politician invited participants to act and take responsibility for their own homes and the country in general.

Participants of the gathering armed themselves with posters, which were handed out to them by organizers. Aside from usual slogans inviting others to respect the laws, posters also featured slogans like «don’t feed oligarchs».

There were many old people as well. Representatives of the party also invited younger people to be more active in the political life of their country.

Most of what politicians and culture sector representatives said on stage was focused on condemnation of oligarchs and the ruling government’s inability to set things right in the country. A lot of criticism was voiced towards Latvia’s President Raimonds Vejonis. Participants of the gathering welcomed the voiced criticisms with applause.

Full article here

GROWTH: 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 %.

The prices of products exported to euro area countries rose by 0.5 % and of products exported to non-euro area countries – by 0.1 %, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

During the month, changes in producer prices were mainly affected by a price increase in the manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture, as well as in the manufacture of food products. A lowering effect on the prices could be observed in the manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment, in distribution of electricity, as well as in steam and air conditioning supply.

Compared to July 2016, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 3.6 % in July 2017. The prices of products sold on the domestic market increased by 3.9 %, while those of exported products grew by 3.4 %. The prices of products exported to euro area countries rose by 4.4 % and of products exported to non-euro area countries – by 2.7 %.

Full article here

FUTURE: 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.

«Latvian food retailers unanimously support the initiative to reduce VAT for fresh vegetables and fruits. Currently large volumes of vegetables and fruits of unknown origin are brought to Latvia. They are sold in in the country without paying VAT,» says LPTA CEO Noris Kruzitis.

«In addition, as confirmed by local producers, reduction of VAT for fresh vegetables and fruits will help reduce the turnover of illegal products in the country,» Kruzitis explains.

The association also reports that differentiated VAT rates for food and separate food product groups would also be reflected in proportionally reduced prices of fresh fruits and vegetables in shops.

Full article here

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SRS: cash register reform still stagnates, but has become much faster than it was last year

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Specialists to search for solutions to topical environmental problems in Ventspils

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Children with functional disorders to receive services financed by EU funds

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Producer price level in industry up 4.3% in Latvia

Compared to June 2017, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.3 % in June 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 4.8 % and those of exported products by 3.7 %.

Total tax debts in Latvia in July – 1.212 billion euros

At the beginning of July total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding debts, halted debts and debts applied with repayment term extensions, accounted for EUR 1.212 billion, which is 0.8% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

Survey: every third Latvian resident has received illegal loan offers

Nearly every third resident in Latvia or 31% of respondents admit having received offers to use illegal loan services, as concluded in a survey performed by Latvian Alternative Financial Services Association and SKDS.

Libya opposed to EU's idea to establish migrant centres in North Africa

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Arrest warrant on Catalan ex-President cancelled by Spain

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Latvian government plans to allow handing expired food to charity

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Estonian industrial producer prices up 2.9% since June 2017

Estonian industrial producer price index has risen by 2.9% between June 2017 and the first summer month this year, resulting in an increase of export prices as well, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Putin urges NATO to quit «irresponsibly» developing ties with Ukraine, Georgia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin cautioned NATO against developing deeper relations with Ukraine and Georgia, evaluating such a policy was irresponsible and would have consequences for the military alliance.

Latvian parliament not in a hurry to support president Vejonis for a second term

Political parties represented in the Saeima are not eager to support President Raimonds Vējonis for his remainder for a second term.

Weather in Latvia will remain warm and even hot at times

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Hungary sued in EU Court for criminalising help to illegal immigrants

The European Union's executive body has stated that a law in Hungary that criminalises support for illegal immigrants is in breach with EU law and Hungary has now been referred to the European Court of Justice for the alleged non-compliance.

Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

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Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.