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BNN summary of the week: budget 2020; excellent Latvian filmmakers; doctors’ worries

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Latvia, Saeima, economy, budget 2017, film, award, Lielais Kristaps, Harmony, GKR, VID, accident, summary, recommendedThe patriotic week passed in Latvia not only with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Latvian army’s victory over Bermondt forces but also with intense discussions for the country’s budget of 2020. The 25-hour-long debates became so heated in the end the opposition left before the final vote. Because of that, the budget project was adopted with votes from only 57 deputies.

Meanwhile, discord in Riga City Council has surfaced within the ranks of the ruling coalition. Harmony political party has announced it will put on hold its work in the coalition until Honour to Serve Riga political party has ceased cooperation with the Independent Deputies Faction, which includes people previously excluded from Harmony.

At the beginning of the week there was a special event in Latvia’s film industry – the Lielais Kristaps award ceremony. Awards were given to actors, actresses, film directors and film crew for their work in different projects.

The BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Budget 2020; Announcement; Controversial Amendments; Decision; Pause; Fight; Pride.

BUDGET 2020

With 57 deputies present, Latvia’s Saeima adopts state budget for 2020

budget 2020, approval, Saeima, debates, coalition, importantAfter two-days’ worth of discussions, Latvia’s Saeima finally approved the state budget on Thursday, 14 November, with 57 votes in favour, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

According to information from Saeima’s website, the meeting concluded at 21:21 and only 57 parliamentarians had taken part in it. The opposition was absent.

A total of 161 proposals were received for the second reading of the state budget for 2020. None of the proposals submitted by the opposition were supported. The meeting dedicated to the final reading of the budget lasted more than a day – nearly 25 hours.

The Saeima also approved the law on medium-term budget content for 2020, 2021 and 2022, as well as amendments to 26 accompanying laws.

Next year’s state consolidated budget revenue is planned at EUR 9.9 billion and expenditures – at EUR 10 billion.

Full article here

ANNOUNCEMENT

Court declares Latvian cosmetics manufacturer Dzintars insolvent

Dzintars, Iļja Gerčikovs , Jānis Ozoliņš, cosmetics, insolvency, tax debtDzintars, Iļja Gerčikovs , Jānis Ozoliņš, cosmetics, insolvency, tax debtOn Tuesday, 12 November, Riga City Pardaugava Court declared Latvian cosmetics manufacturer AS Dzintars insolvent. Jānis Ozoliņš was appointed as the company’s insolvency administrator, as confirmed by the court’s representative Viktorija Mežance.

She explains that the insolvency process was initiated based on the report from insolvency administrator Mareks Diks. At the same time, legal protection process is terminated because it was found that Dzintars did not comply with requirements of the legal protection process plan of 25 April 2019 for longer than 30 days.

And so the court noticed signs of insolvency process as outlined in Part 1 of Section 57 of the Law on Insolvency. The court concluded that this is grounds for declaring an insolvency process for Dzintars legal person.

Mežance admits that the most notable creditor in this case was the State Revenue Service (VID), whose 11 October 2019 decision makes it clear that the tax administration does not agrees with Dzintars’ and VID’s submitted amendments to the legal protection process plan’s redaction of 20 September 2019.

Full article here

CONTROVERSIAL AMENDMENTS

To increase parties’ independence, Saeima decides to boost support for them

budget 2020, transparency, law, independence, oligarchs, party funding, SaeimaIn the final reading, Latvia’s Saeima approved controversial amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Organizations, significantly boosting state support for political parties.

Debates and discussions about this legislative draft on Thursday, 14 November, during which the Saeima decided on the next year’s budget, transpired without involvement from opposition deputies. Nevertheless, the absence of the opposition did not contribute to a unified vote from the coalition – 53 deputies voted in favour of amendments, three voted against and one parliamentarian abstained in the vote.

Two KPV LV party members – Kaspars Ģirģens and Ieva Krapāne – voted against the legislative draft. Non-party deputy Inguna Rībena also voted against it. KPV LV faction member Ivars Puga abstained in the vote, vice-chairman of the party’s chairman Ēriks Pucens did not take part in the vote. Approximately one-third of KPV LV faction deputies did not vote together with their colleagues and the coalition. After the decision was made, Pucens mentioned that he made a mistake in the vote. Saeima Praesidium was asked to change his vote. With that, a total of 54 deputies voted in favour of amendments.

Full article here

PAUSE

Harmony halts work in Riga City Council coalition until GKR makes up its mind

topical, GKR, coalition, independent, deputies, faction, Harmony, Riga City Council

Riga’s Mayor Oļegs Burovs

Political party Harmony’s faction in Riga City Council has decided to halt its work in the coalition until Honour to Service Riga (GKR) makes up its mind in regards to cooperation with Independent Deputies Faction, as confirmed by Riga City Council’s vice-chairman Anna Vladova on Thursday, 14 November.

This means the faction will not take part in any committee and city council’s meeting until GKR has made its decision.

At the same time, Vladova stressed that GKR understands this position and the party is prepared to wait for their partners’ decision.

According to Harmony’s representatives, putting work in the coalition on hold does not mean they will step down from committee heads and other posts. All duties will be performed in accordance with the law, they stressed. Additionally, the faction will attend the 18 November festive meeting of Riga City Council. The 20 November meeting will not be attended if GKR fails to make any new decisions by then.

Full article here

FIGHT

Healthcare trade unions to decide on future protests in Latvia

trade union, doctors, budget 2020, government, Latvia, protestLatvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers (LVSADA) council plans to decide on future protests on Tuesday, 19 November, as confirmed by the trade union.

Latvian Nurses Association’s (LMA) president Dita Raiska, Latvian Young Doctors Association (LJAA) board chairman Kārlis Rācenis, Latvian Doctors Association (LAB) president Ilze Aizsilniece and Latvian Free Trade Unions Association chairman Egils Baldzēns are invited to attend the meeting.

Latest recommendations from the European Commission and OECD urge Latvia to allocate considerable increase of state funding for healthcare in order to improve accessibility and quality. The same is stated in Latvia’s Healthcare Financing Law. However, the government and the Saeima are illegally preparing to worsen healthcare funding in the coming years. Additionally, there are no plans to ensure funding increase for the industry, the trade union states.

Full article here

DECISION

State Real Estate board member steps down over construction worker’s death

construction, work safety, Finance Ministry, death, VNI

Kitija Gruškevica

Following the fatal fall of a construction worker off the roof of Finance Ministry’s building, State Real Estate (VNI) board member Kitija Gruškevica has stepped down.

«I am prepared to step down and take moral responsibility for what happened on Smilšu Street 1. I believe such a decision is important for both VNI reputation and the company’s future development. It stresses work safety in construction and society as a whole,» says Gruškevica, who is responsible for development and construction projects in VNI board.

VNI council chairman Mārtiņš Bičevskis says the company’s council has accepted Gruškevica resignation.

«Although the construction company is the one responsible for what happened on the roof of the building, Gruškevica has told the council of her intention to step down, and the council has accepted her resignation,» explains Bičevskis.

Under Gruškevica’s management a total of eight large construction projects were finished last year. VNI has also been able to progress with multiple important objects. The company has improved management over development projects and use of Construction Information Modeling system was commenced, the company mentions.

«We are committed to doing everything to prevent the possibility of incidents like the one that occurred on 8 November from repeating in the future. A crisis management group was formed immediately after the incident to perform service inspection and carefully check the quality of work and compliance with internal and external regulations,» adds Bičevskis.

Full article here

PRIDE

Lielais Kristaps Award Ceremony: Best actors – Reinis and Nevarauska, best film – Oļegs

1906, actors, Blakus, Jānis Ābele, Jēkabs Reinis, Jelgava '94, Karote, film, Kristīne Nevarauska, Latvian film, Lielais Kristaps, Oļegs, Sarkanais mežs, important, Varis BraslaAt Lielais Kristaps Latvian National Film Award ceremony film director Juris Kursietis work Oļegs was named the best full-length film. Camera operator Bogumils Godfrejovs was also awarded for his work on this film.

Recognition from the jury was awarded to film director Gatis Šmits’ film 1906 for recreating authentic historic atmosphere.

Jānis Ābele was picked as best feature film director for his work Jelgava ’94.

The Best Actress award went to Kristīne Nevarauska for her acting in the film Nekas mūs neapturēs. Best Actor award went to Jēkabs Reinis for his work in Sarkanais mežs TV series.

The Best Support Actor award went to Dāvids Ogrodņiks for his work in the film Oļegs.

The best Support Actress was given to Ieva Puķe for her work in Jelgava ’94. The actor who played the leading role – Bruno Bitenieks – was awarded special recognition from the jury for his promising performance in the film alongside professional actors.

Full article here


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VID officials will need to have spotless reputation, Saeima decides

From now on, officials of the State Revenue Service (VID) will need to have a spotless reputation. This is decided by Saeima’s amendments to the Law on State Revenue Service approved in the final reading on 5 December, as BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Brazil at risk of losing vote in UN General Assembly because of high debts

There are risks that because of failure to pay its debts to the United Nations Organization, Brazil could lose its voting rights in the UN General Assembly, Reuters reports.

Strained Lithuanian budget is desperate for additional sources of revenues

With the adoption of the new year’s budget skidding, two major professional groups – teachers and doctors – have had this week their demand for higher salaries satisfied, thus deepening the holes in the shallowing budget. Where to scoop up money to patch all the gaps and satisfy all the demands? This week, Seimas, Lithuanian legislature, was in a frantic search for additional sources of revenues.

Estonian Police and Border Guard Board official detained on suspicion of embezzlement

Estonian Internal Security Service has detained a senior officer of Police and Border Guard Board at the South Prefecture on suspicion of document forgery and embezzlement of more than EUR 250 000, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Saeima supports government’s decision to extend state of emergency in Riga

On Thursday, 5 December, Saeima agreed with the government’s decision to extend the state of emergency with waste management in Riga’s administrative territory until 12 March 2020, as reported by the Saeima’s press-service.

Flu infection rates remain low in Latvia, but infection spread continues nonetheless

A total of 30 clinically confirmed flu infection cases were registered in Latvia’s healthcare institutions. Nevertheless, virus activity remains low in the country, according to the latest monitoring report on influenza and acute upper respiratory tract infections compiled by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

France braces for intense protests over Macron’s intended pension reform

France shaken by this decade’s biggest protests in which trade unions urge other residents to oppose French President Emmanuel Macron’s intended pension reform, Reuters reports.

Marguerite Fund to sell Conexus shares to Japanese Marubeni fund

Shareholder in Latvian natural gas transmission and storage system operator Conexus Baltic Grid, Marguerite Fund plans to sell its owned 29.06% of Conexus shares to Japanese company Marubeni fund.

Saeima’s majority may move towards Riga City Council’s dismissal

The majority of Latvia’s Saeima may vote towards dismissing Riga City Council, according to unofficial information from LETA. There is also a more reserved position on this, but generally it is admitted that Riga City Council’s dismissal process will be initiated.

National Economy Committee invites reviewing Rail Baltica project’s management structure

«Considering the unstable situation and lasting stagnation with the project’s management, the National Economy Committee invites Transport Ministry to review the structure of RB Rail,» says Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee chairman Jānis Vitenbergs.

«Riga’s residents overpay.» Kleins proposes terminating contract with Rīgas karte

Riga City Council vice-chairman and shareholder in municipal company LLC Rīgas satiksme Druvis Kleins, has ordered the company’s lawyers to assess the option of quickly terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as confirmed by Kleins, who represents For Riga! bloc in the city council.

Newspaper: Russia plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad next year

Russia has plans to deploy a motorized division in Kaliningrad Oblast, which shares borders with Poland and Lithuania, as reported by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Ex-president says conflicts with territorial reform surface where the rich refuse to share

The objective of the territorial reform remains unchanged – forming economically more efficient administrative territories. This means creating counties able to sustain themselves and develop economically. Conflicts with the reform usually surface in areas, where the rich refuse to share. There are also situations when the poor want to receive and do nothing on their own, BNN was told by ex-President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers.

October’s industrial production output in Latvia increases 3%

Compared to October 2018, industrial production output increased by 3 % in October 2019, according to calendar adjusted data at constant prices.

Iceland’s prime minister urges making welfare a budget priority

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir urges the government to focus on priorities that serve the interest of families and nature, not focus exclusively on economic growth, BBC reports.

NATO leaders meet in spite of tension to discuss security challenges

In spite of ongoing rows, leaders of NATO member states met near London on Wednesday, 4 December, to discuss important topics like cyber security and strategic challenges created by China, BBC reports.

Latvian government extends state of emergency with waste management in Riga

Although Riga City Council has stated multiple times that it is not necessary to extend the state of emergency with waste management, Latvia’s government has nevertheless decided to extend it until March 2020.

SEB Bank clients now able to use mobile devices to pay for goods and services

SEB Bank clients who have a mobile phone with Android OS are now able to pay for goods and services using their phones. It is possible to use mobile phones to for transactions up to EUR 150 in Latvia and abroad using contact-free terminals, the bank reports.

Kleins: we may have to review who receives public transport discounts in Riga

Considering the complicated financial situation at Rīgas satiksme public transport company, it may be necessary to review which groups of people receive discounts and benefits, said Riga City Council’s vice-chairman Druvis Kleins in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Wednesday, 4 December.

Latvian pupils’ mathematics score above average among OECD member states

Latvian pupils’ mathematics skills are reportedly higher than average among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to results of OECD PISA 2018.

Environment Ministry to decide on Riga City Council’s dismissal this week

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s lawyers will prepare a report this week on whether or not it is necessary to initiate dismissal of Riga City Council, as journalists were told by Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce on Tuesday, 3 December.

Turkey upholds veto against NATO Baltic defence plans; Lithuania hopes for compromise

Ankara has reiterated its stance of blocking the adoption of updated Baltic defence plans in NATO as a bargaining chip in its attempts to label Kurdish groups in Syria as terrorists, according to the Turkish policy.

In spite of suspicions of fraud in VID, government promotes Kaspars Podiņš to general

Although multiple objections have been voiced in regards to Kaspars Podiņš’s work as chief of State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Office, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has nevertheless decided to promote him to general.

Estonian pupils – best among European nations in PISA education test

Estonian pupils’ skills have topped the list of European nations in the latest ranking of average education results of the survey of Programme for International Student Assessment carried out by the OECD in 79 countries and economies.

Latvia’s ruling coalition officially agrees on Kazāks as chosen Bank of Latvia governor

Parties of the ruling coalition in Latvia have agreed to pick the central bank’s council member Mārtiņš Kazāks as their chosen candidate for the posting of governor of the Bank of Latvia, politicians told journalists on Tuesday, 3 December after a meeting of ruling parties.


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