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Ceturtdiena 23.01.2020 | Name days: Strauta, Grieta
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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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Harmony prepared to approve Riga’s 2020 budget after Burovs’ dismissal

Political party Harmony will not approve Riga municipality’s 2020 budget while Oļegs Burovs remains in charge of the city council, as reported by the be faction’s head Maksims Tolstojs.

British landlords support cards showing rights of EU guest workers after Brexit

After Brexit, which is due to start with February, European Union citizens will have to prove their settled status when looking for flats. Private landlords has supported a change in the Brexit law for EU citizens to have physical cards to prove it.

Survey: 86% believe roads should be among state budget priorities in Latvia

A total of 86% Latvian residents believe maintenance and repair work of roads should be among state budget priorities, according to results of a survey by SKDS.

Vitenbergs: every investment is vital for Latvia’s national economy

Investments are the foundation for a free market economy and every investment is vital for Latvia’s national economy, said chairman of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee Jānis Vitenbergs.

Kaljulaid in Antarctica: We enable Estonians to work online from anywhere

Visiting Antarctica, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid intends to do her daily work demonstrating the geographical flexibility working online can give. The head of state also pointed to the alarming speed of climate change visible in the far south.

Producer price level in Latvia’s industry declines 1.1% in December

In December 2019 the level of producer prices in the Latvian industry has reduced by 0.4 %. The level of prices of products sold on the domestic market has dropped by 0.2 %, and prices of exported products by – 0.6 %.

Moneyval report: Latvia has generally completed issued recommendations

Moneyval Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Measures of the Council of Europe has upgraded its report regarding Latvia completing the 11 recommendations it was previously presented, according to published information.

Russian energy advantage in Baltics should be stopped, says Energy Commissioner

Baltic power producers are subjected to European Union’s emissions tax, while Russian and Belarusian producers are not despite all competing on the Baltic market. Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson believes that this should be solved.

Employee reduction at Latvian Railway started at the end of 2019

Latvian Railway had commenced reassessment of its functions and operations in the second half of 2019. This is why the reduction of the number of employees commenced gradually at the end of 2019, as reported by LDz representative Ella Pētermane.

Those with voting rights are slow to sign referendum for municipal election regulations

Between 16 and 21 January, a total of 1 137 people with voting rights cast their votes in favour of the referendum intended to introduce changes to regulations that govern snap municipal elections, as reported by Latvian Central Election Commission representative Laura Zaharova.

Video: Thunberg and Trump clash over climate in Davos

«Our emissions have to stop» versus «import our oil and natural gas» – these were the conflicting calls from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and U.S. President Donald Trump in the World Economic Forum.

Kariņš: the minister should not ease requirements for State Police chief candidates to appoint someone specific

Easing requirements for candidates wishing to become chief of State Police is unacceptable, and such behaviour creates suspicions that something is wrong with the process, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Wednesday, 22 January.

A look back at the time after the crisis: «pedal to the metal» policy continues echoing in Latvia

«The negative influence left by the «pedal to the metal» policy has continued echoing in Latvia,» says SEB Bank economist Dainis Gašpuitis, looking back at the years after the crisis.

Raimonds Vējonis elected as president of Latvian Basketball Association

On Tuesday, 21 January, former president of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis was elected president of Latvian Basketball Association, as reported by Latvian public media portal lsm.lv.

Spain’s powerful storm turns tragic

In Spain, a powerful storm has brought flooding, low temperatures and violent winds to the country’s eastern coast, where four people died according to the BBC and local authorities.

Riga City Council opposition sees no reason to sign for Oļegs Burovs’ dismissal

Political parties representing the opposition in Riga City Council have no plans at the moment to start gathering signatures to have the city council’s chairman Oļegs Burovs dismissed, because they believe the Saeima will soon vote for the entire city council’s dismissal in the coming weeks, interviewed politicians admit.

Courts in Russian cities evacuated over bomb threats

In Russian cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, 11 courts have been evacuated after e-mailed bomb threats were received, Russian state news agency TASS reports. This far, the threats have been unsubstantiated

Minister: a wider range of candidates to lead State Police would benefit society

Having a wider range of potential contenders to lead Latvian State Police would be in society’s interests, said Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 21 January.

LZP regional faction urges talks to discuss splitting from ZZS

Latvian Green Party’s Cēsis faction believes the party should discuss the possibility of splitting from the Union of Greens and Farmers, as reported by newspaper Latvijas Avīze.

Swedbank predicts 2.2% economic growth for Latvia in 2020

Latvia’s national economic growth in 2020 will rely on private consumption. Overall growth is expected at 2.2%, according to Swedbank chief economist Liva Zorgenfreija.

U.S. impeachment court begins against Donald Trump

In the Senate of the U.S. Congress, the impeachment court is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 21, aimed at establishing whether or not U.S. President Donald Trump is guilty in charges related to his foreign policy on Ukraine.

IMF cuts global growth forecast to world economy in 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its economic growth forecast for world economy in 2020.

Climate-devoted Davos forum to host conflicting views of Thunberg and Trump

In Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum starts on Tuesday, January 21, with a focus on economic changes to turn to sustainability. Among the speakers there are U.S. President Donald Trump and Swedish climate voice Greta Thunberg.

Latvia commemorates journalists of the Barricades

«Every year on 20 January we gather at the Saeima to commemorate the Barricades of 1991 – the days of protection of Latvia’s freedom. Today all of Riga smells of barricade smoke, of freedom. I believe the fires of freedom lit in commemoration of this day will still be lit year after year from now. Most importantly we cannot let these fires die out in our memory,» said Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece in a speech addressed to journalists of the Barricades.

Even Jūlijs Krūmiņš’s penalty is not enough to pull state funding from ZZS

The fine enforced by the office of the prosecutor on businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš does not provide for terminating payment of state funding for the Union of Greens and Farmers, as reported by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.


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