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Sunday 18.11.2018 | Name days: Doloresa, Aleksandrs
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BNN summary of the week: compensations for deputies, government formation and increase of RS grants

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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: Responsibility; Decline; Inspection; Government; Funding; Fight; Compensation.

RESPONSIBILITY: Latvian prime minister believes doctors’ wage matter is the new government’s problem now

The matter regarding the increase of wages for doctors and other medical personnel next year is now for the new government to resolve, said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

According to him, there has been an ‘exceedingly strange misunderstanding’ in regards to concerns about the possible non-increase of wages for doctors next year.

Kučinskis explains that the three-year budget includes the entry that the increase of wages for doctors is a matter for the next year’s budget. «The increase of wages for doctors is a problem for the next year’s budget to resolve,» said the prime minister. To resolve this matter, Kučinskis says there should be no delays with development and approval of the 2019 budget.

Kučinskis stresses that both Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša and the ministry itself have proposals. However, resolution of this matter depends on the new government’s outlined priorities. «If the government decides it is a priority, so it will be. But as the government that will soon step down, we are unable to develop the next year’s budget – the law does not allow this,» said the prime minister.

He reminds that increase of wages for doctors requires amendments to the budget law, which have to be carried to the Saeima for approval. «We will develop them. If the Saeima is unable to approve the budget, the parliament will have to approve transition requirements for specific positions of the budget,» the prime minister continues.

Full article here

DECLINE: FVS uncovers violations with green procurements in 86% of education institutions

During an inspection of education institutions and their compliance with green procurement requirements at the beginning of the new school year, the State Food and Veterinary Service found non-compliance with specific requirements in 55 education institutions or 86% of cases, as confirmed by FVS.

«We remind that products made in Latvia and that comply with national quality scheme (Green Spoon or Bordeaux Spoon) comply with green public procurement requirements,» FVS explains.

The service notes that in all cases education institutions should have made sure products supplied as part of contracts comply with requirements. For some reason, however, no quality assurance measures were performed.

After inspections FVS concluded that education institutions were not serious about fulfilling requirements of green procurements.

«When companies participate in procurements, they have to make sure the supply compliant green products to education institutions in accordance with previously approved technical specifications,» FVS reminds.

Full article here

INSPECTION: Authorities to investigate cooperation between Riga City Council and Russian design company

Latvian Security Police has commenced an investigation regarding the cooperation between Riga City Council and Russian Giprostrojmost, which is a company under EU and US sanctions.

Because the investigation is in its early stages, Security Police refuses to comment on this matter.

As previously reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3, Riga City Council cooperates with Russian Giprostrojmost company, which is responsible for designing the Crimean Bridge. This company is also under international sanctions.

In response, Riga City Council’s Transport Department explained that in June, after the Saeima approved amendments to the Law on International Sanctions and National Sanctions of the Republic of Latvia, the department received a letter from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. This letter mentioned that the ban on cooperation with companies applied with international sanctions does not apply to tenders commenced before the approval of the law amendments. The same thing was told to the Procurement Monitoring Bureau.

The cooperation agreement with G.B.V., which includes Giprostrojmost, was signed by the department in 2016, before the company was applied with international sanctions. The agreement was signed in relation to the design and supervision over Eastern highway section from Ieriķu Street to Vietalvas Street. According to Una Ahuna-Ozola, representative of Riga City Council’s Transport Department, this is they only active contract between the municipality and Giprostrojmost.

Full article here

GOVERNMENT: Latvian president says progress has been made with government formation

There is progress observed in talks with 13th Saeima parties on the formation of a new government. However, more intensive talks are still needed to ensure more clarity in relation to the possible coalition before the first meeting of the next Saeima, says Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis.

On Tuesday, 30 October, Vējonis met with KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems, New Conservative Party’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns and Attīstībai/Par! prime minister candidate Artis Pabriks.

Candidates informed the president of the progress achieved so far in government talks and future tasks of the government.

«Potential candidates did not deny the possibility of working in a coalition even if someone else is picked as the prime minister,» said the president.

Vējonis stressed that parties elected to the 13th Saeima have to be able to agree on the new coalition and majority support in the parliament, so that it is possible to elect a new Saeima speaker and Praesidium next week.

The president admits that considerable progress was achieved in government talks in the past couple of days, outlining the tasks for the next government.

«Parties still have to continue intensive consultations before the first meeting of the next Saeima to achieve some clarity about the possible coalition,» said the president.

Full article here

FUNDING: «relations with God» and «normal work» – Latvian ministers explain government’s farewell gifts

Is there a recovery of deputy quotas? Government in Latvia rushed to divide state budget funds in the last couple of weeks, providing money to different projects: from race licenses to the renovation of hotels for pilgrims in Aglona.

Both the prime minister and finance minister claim the government acted responsibly, because it helped relieve the next year’s budget by allocating money to priority directions in advance. Nevertheless, certain cases resemble the urge to provide money to projects that might not get money next year, when the government is set to change, as concluded by De Facto programme of LTV.

The money saved in unpaid childbirth benefits to be used for rally, motocross and speedway race licenses. Money unused for grey economy combating project will be provided to churches. The money diverted from the uninitiated Salaspils nuclear reactor dismantling project will be used to finance procurement of equipment and furniture for Ventspils Music High School. These are but some of the examples for the division of state budget funds decided by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ government in the past couple of weeks, De Facto reminds.

The influence the current coalition might have in the next government in Latvia will be much smaller. This is likely the reason for the sudden surge in activity. Although the government makes decisions regarding budget appropriation in autumn every year, this time it seems ministers are unusually active, De Facto notes.

Full article here

FIGHT: Proposal to increase grants for Rīgas satiksme to EUR 132.8 million gains support

Riga City Council’s Finance and Administrative Affairs Committee supported amendments to the municipality’s 2018 budget plan. The supported changes increase the municipality’s expenditures to EUR 1.023 billion this year.

The meeting was attended by only three opposition deputies, who interviewed the city council’s Finance Department director Ilga Tiknuse.

Deputy Vilnis Ķirsis from Unity pointed out the EUR 22.5 million large grant intended for Rīgas satiksme. Tiknuse explained that it is necessary to increase grants for the company because the number of transported passengers has reduced. Additionally, the number of groups provided with discounts has increased. When asked if the company is at risk of going bankrupt without grants, Tiknuse said «that would be going too far», because the company has other solutions.

Tiknuse said that together with state grants, Rīgas satiksme will have received grants worth a total of EUR 132.8 million this year.

Deputy Krišjānis Feldmans from New Conservative Party asked if it is true that taxes from all Riga residents are not enough to cover RS grants. Tiknuse avoided giving a straight answer.

Feldmans also pointed to other budget amendments and asked why there has been a EUR 50,000 reduction of social insurance fees for employees. The city council’s financier explained that over the course of the year a surplus formed because of sick leaves, vacations and other factors.

Full article here

COMPENSATION: EUR 610,374 needed to compensate deputies not re-elected to 13th Saeima

Deputies that were not re-elected to the 13th Saeima will be paid compensations. The total amount will be around roughly EUR 610,374 before taxes, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

The single-time compensation is planned to be paid to 66 deputies. The provisional size of the amount to be paid in total is EUR 610,374. Taxes will be deducted from this amount, as confirmed by the press-service.

Saeima deputies whose mandate ends with the Saeima and who is not re-elected in the next parliament is paid a single-time compensation worth three monthly wages.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian government approves rules for paying whistleblowers

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, November 14, rules for financially rewarding people who provide the authorities with valuable information on illegal activities.

BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia, Brexit plans, and Latvia’s 100th birthday

If someone hoped to see Latvia compile a government before the national holiday, they are going to be disappointed – three parties have decided to exit government formation talks headed by New Conservative Party. NCP’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns receive criticism for having too ambitious and expensive goals. NCP, on the other hand, says parties did not try to study the party’s offers.

PUC commences dispute between AS Gaso and natural gas consumer

On Friday, 16 November, Public Utilities Commission decided to commence a dispute procedure between a natural gas consumer and AS Gaso in regards to natural gas supplies, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvian parties continue informal talks while next prime minister is being picked

While President Raimonds Vējonis is busy picking the next prime minister candidate, politicians of different parties are performing informal consultations. No official consultations are currently planned.

UN's global migration compact stirs up Estonia's calm politics

The Estonian government has taken a long time to reach a unanimous position on the United Nation's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This has been criticised by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who has to attend a conference in favour of the document in Morocco in December.

Latvian authorities detain CityCommerce Bank co-owner accused of embezzlement

Reinis Tumovs, co-owner of Ukrainian CityCommerce Bank, has been detained in Latvia. He is suspected of embezzling nearly UAH 300 million (EUR 9.5 million), as confirmed by Ukrainian National Police Economy Protection Department on Thursday, 15 November.

Russia ordered to pay damages for Navalny's political arrests by human rights court

Russia has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to repay 64 000 euros in damages and costs for politically-motivated arrests of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Latvian president to consider Gobzems and Pabriks as perspective prime minister candidates

As parties’ efforts to form a new government continue, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis plans to consider two new prime minister candidates – KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems and Attīstībai/Par! candidate Artis Pabriks.

EC wants to reduce funding for supplies of fruits, vegetables and milk to schools

European Commission’s proposed regulation on organization of agriculture products market provides for reducing EU funding for the support programme on provision of fruits, vegetables and milk for schools by EUR 29.2 million or the same as United Kingdom’s share.

Genocide verdicts handed to Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia

In Cambodia, the two most senior living leaders of the Khmer Rouge Communist regime have been found guilty of their role in the atrocities that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.7 million in Cambodia between 1977 and 1979.

Latvian parties pick candidates to work in Saeima committees

Parties elected to the 13th Saeima have picked representatives to work in the parliament’s standing committees. Final decision will be made 20 November. Harmony may be represented by deputies Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Attīstībai/Par! has picked Artis Pabriks, and Union of Greens and Farmers has picked Uldis Augulis.

EU leaders: No appetite for renegotiating Brexit deal

EU leaders have dismissed talk of renegotiating the draft Brexit deal and warned the UK's political situation could make a «no-deal» more likely.

Some rain expected for Latvia’s centenary; cold snap expected next week

The sky will become clear every now and then. Still, some rain is expected for the country’s centenary. Wet snow is expected in the country’s eastern regions. It will be dry in the country for the most part next week, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian ministry plans to form Media Ethics Council and develop Latvian Media Ethics Code

Culture Ministry has proposed forming Media Ethics Council. The majority of institutions of the media industry have started working on a self-regulatory council and development of a Single Latvian Media Ethics Code, as reported by the ministry’s public relations office manager Lita Kokale.

Harmony picks representatives in Saeima’s committees

Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins may become Harmony’s representatives in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee, whereas Valērijs Agešins may become the party’s representative in the National Security Committee.

Lithuania’s corruption buster: firms donating to hospitals stand better chance in tenders

The majority of the winners of the tenders organised by major Lithuanian hospitals have expressed their gratitude to the health providers by making donations to them in the form of financial support.

Employment level in Latvia reached 65.3% in Q3 2018

920.1 thousand people or 65.3 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in Q3 2018. Over the year, employment rate grew by 1.7 percentage points and number of employed persons by 17.2 thousand.

Unemployment level in Latvia was 7% in Q3 2018

In Q3 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.0 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points, while over the year by 1.5 percentage points.

AS PKL Flote enforces EUR 1.35 million from Riga Freeport authority in court

The Department of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court has ruled that the verdict of Riga Regional Court – one that penalized Riga Freeport authority for breach of Competition Law against PKL Flote – was correct. Now Riga Freeport has ten days, starting with 13 November, to pay the company EUR 1.35 million to cover damages caused by this violation, BNN was told by PKL Flote board chairman Sergejs Odincovs.

British government loses two more members; EU sets date for Brexit summit

In the UK government, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and Northern Ireland's junior minister have resigned in disagreement with the country's draft withdrawal agreement with the EU, already passed by the government.

Saeima deputy: data protection regulation will not protect «KGB associates»

Documents detailing KGB workers’ names, nationality, work place, participation in the Communist party are not covered by the Personal Data Protection Regulation, stresses Saeima deputy Ritvars Jansons from the National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’.

EP: Moldova and Georgia should continue initiated reforms

Members of the European Parliament welcome the reforms Georgia has commenced. At the same time, Moldova was criticized for its worsened state of democracy and rule of law, as reported by EP press-secretary in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Germany economy shrinks for first time in three years

Germany economy has contracted by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2018, a first such result in the largest economy of the European Union in over three years.

Latvian president gives parties holiday break to continue talks

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis calls off nomination of NCP candidate Jānis Bordāns to for government. Talks regarding the next prime minister candidate will continue after the state holiday.

Ireland satisfied with Brexit draft deal in every priority

The government of Ireland has stated that draft withdrawal agreement between Irish neighbour, the UK, and the European Union, Dublin had achieved a satisfying result in all its priorities, also regarding the border on the island of Ireland.

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