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Sunday 23.09.2018 | Name days: Vanda, Veneranda, Venija
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BNN summary of the week: distorted state administration, Liepājas metalurgs recovery, and Latvia's unemployment level

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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; Growth; Business; Fight; Future; Opinion

CHANGE: Nurses’ wages up 50-70%, but still far from competitive

Wages of nurses of Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital have grown 50-60%. However, there is still a long way to go before they become competitive, said Stradins Hospital’s head nurse Eva Cela in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

While in the past nurses in Stradins Hospital were paid EUR 500 to EUR 600 for a full shift, now they are paid EUR 1,000 to EUR 1,500. At the same time, wages remain too low to be considered competitive, admits Cela, adding that the average wage of nurses in Europe ranges between EUR 3,000 and EUR 5,000.

Cela says it seems to her that Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša’s priority is finding additional funding for this goal.

According to her, the minister has commenced a powerful reform in healthcare, which is necessary. Cela believes Čakša is the only one of the last several healthcare ministers that has provided considerable support to raise the prestige of the nurse’s profession. The ministry has several work groups working on solutions to raise standards of the nurse profession.

She also says that last year she signed documents for nurses wishing to work abroad nearly every day. This year, however, there was only one.

Full article here

GROWTH: Barometer data shows residents with higher education are more optimistic job-seekers

53% of interviewed residents believe the possibility of finding a decent job and making a good earning in Latvia is poor, and this worsens their financial situation. Because of that, residents leave the country in search of greener pastures, according to results of Baltic International Bank’s latest Latvian Barometer.

It is worth mentioning, however, that residents with higher education are more optimistic in this matter than residents who lack higher education, as concluded in the survey.

When asked to score their family’s financial state, residents with higher education were more optimistic in their replies – 26% said their family’s state is good. Residents with secondary education, on the other hand, are more negative – 27% said their family’s financials state is poor. Only 14% of respondents with higher education said their family’s financial state is poor, according to results of the study.

When asked to assess the current state of Latvia’s labour market, the majority of respondents said the possibility of finding work is poor. 63% of respondents with primary education and almost as many respondents with secondary or vocational education stated as much. Residents who have higher education are more optimistic, but even in this category 36% of respondents voiced a critical opinion.

Full article here

BUSINESS: British Steel says it is interested in Liepājas metalurgs’ recovery, not asset purchase

The consortium consisting of British Steel, Greybull Capital and Estonian Baltic Metal Holding is interested in KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ recovery, not the purchase of its assets, says Greybull Capital partner Daniel Goldstein.

He refused to go into detail as to why the consortium exited from last year’s KVV Liepājas metalurgs sale process. He did say that ‘now there may be an option to perform the company’s purchase in a constructive way’. This is why the consortium voiced the desire to purchase all of KVV Liepājas metalurgs’ property together earlier this year. «The previous approach was auctioning off assets. We were not interested in such a process. We are interested in creating a business. Business and assets are different things. For a business to form successfully, all interested sides should actively participate. This is what we are hoping for. Assets are important, but they are not decisive. If you have assets, it does not mean you’ll be successful,» said Goldstein.

He admits that there isn’t a clear action plan in relation to Liepājas metalurgs’ already auctioned off assets.

Full article here

FIGHT: Latvian Saeima’s committee does not support Kušners’ re-approval in Bank of Latvia council

On Thursday, 17 May, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided not to recommend Edvards Kušners for a repeated term in the council of the Bank of Latvia.

Three deputies voiced support for Kušners – Imants Parādnieks, Inguna Sudraba and Juris Viļums. Three deputies – Jānis Vucāns, Aleksandrs Kiršteins and Edgars Putra – voted against. Deputy Renārs Putniņš abstained in the vote, and Igors Pimenovs was absent.

After interviewing Kušners last week, deputies decided to take a pause in this matter. Most of the questions Kušners was asked were associated with events of 2005. At the time, he was deputy chief of the Legal Affairs Office of the Bank of Land. He was later appointed as an authorized person to Delaware-registered company Carew Estates LLC.

Full article here

FUTURE: Certus prepares recommendations for political parties’ economic programmes

«The number of economically active residents in Latvia continues to decline. Economic growth remains directly dependent on inflow of EU funds. The country chronically lacks money for education, healthcare and roads. It is clear that traditional economic thinking no longer works. The time has come for a new approach based around priority directions and cooperation between the public and private sectors. If political parties truly want to end the outflow of residents and emptying of the country’s regions, as well as achieve rapid economic growth and ensure a high welfare level for Latvia, they should consider alternative economic development models and include them in their programmes,» says Certus manager Vjacheslavs Dombrovskis.

In preparation for upcoming Saeima elections, Certus is busy preparing recommendations for political parties’ economic programmes. Recommendations will be based on the think tank’s vision for Latvia’s development – ‘Latvija 2022: 3+3 model’.

Full article here

OPINION: KPV LV believes Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration

Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration. The coalition council should be liquidated entirely, says KPV LV co-chairman Atis Zakatistovs.

«KPV LV’s analytical group has found that there are roughly 160 councils in Latvia. The mother of all of them is the Coalition Council. This has resulted in a situation when people in councils anonymously secure themselves beneficial solutions in state administration matters. The council is used as a lobby that distorts Latvia’s government. The Coalition Council should be liquidated because it is neither covered by the Constitution nor the Saeima’s Internal Order. In addition, this council only degrades public discussions,» says Zakatistovs.

KPV LV also wants to see fewer ministries in Latvia. ‘There are currently thirteen ministries. We intend to leave only seven together with the prime minister’s office,’ as stated in the political party’s pre-election programme. KPV LV promises to replace ministries with non-political secretariats.

Full article here


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Court reschedules viewing of criminal case due to Non-citizens Congress leader’s poor health

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court announced today that the viewing of the criminal case in which leader of Non-citizens Congress Aleksandrs Gapoņenko is accused of inciting national hate will be postponed to a later date.

Producer prices in industry up 1.0% in Latvia in August

Compared to July, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 1.0 % in August 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.9 %, but of exported products – went up by 0.1 %.

Bishop: priest suspected of sexual abuse to be operated on in hospital

Pāvels Zeiļa, who is a priest of Rezekne Aglona diocese and the suspect in the criminal case regarding sexual violence and human trafficking, will undergo a complicated surgery on Friday, 21 September, as reported by Bishop Jānis Bulis.

Study: residents withdraw money from ATMs less often but in larger amounts

Every now and then discussions about dropping cash money altogether become active in society, AS PrivatBank representatives say.

HND Grupa design company, involved in Zolitude tragery, declared insolvent

Building engineer Ivars Sergets company HND Grupa, which was involved in the case revolving around the Maxima supermarket that collapsed in Zolitude, killing 54, not five years ago, has been declared insolvent, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service suspected of misappropriation

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry’s Internal Security Bureau has detained deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Ints Sēlis and one other official – a senior inspector, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

Washington sanctions China for buying Russian military equipment

U.S. government has introduces sanctions against the Chinese army over a purchase of fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, despite a U.S. sanctions law targeting Moscow for attempts to sway in the 2016 U.S. election.

Autumn expected to begin soon in Latvia

Friday, 21 September, is expected to be warm in Latvia. Sun and considerable amount of clouds are expected, but not precipitation. Wind will draw in from the south, reaching a speed of 15-17 m/sec in western and central regions, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Brexit: a finish line with no end in sight

Less than 200 days are left before Britain officially leaves the European Union. The state of the agreement between Britain and EU only serves to create more chaos, from which neither Britain nor EU, or even Latvia will benefit.

EU underlines to London: No-deal Brexit also option

European Union's top officials and member state leaders planned to push for a Brexit deal in October, while urging London to give ground on the issues trade and the Irish border by November, to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Lithuanian PM, a presumable presidential hopeful, set to curb grocery price growth

Having chastised food retailers on many occasions for high grocery prices, Saulius Skvernelis, the Lithuanian Prime Minister, stepped forward in the bid to harness local supermarkets. The presumed presidential candidate of the ruling Farmers and Greens (LVŽS) has summoned this week executives of major retail food chains, scolded them and reaffirmed his pledge to rein in the edging up prices.

Industrial prices in Estonia – up by 3.4% on year

The industrial price index in Estonia has risen from August 2017 to August this year by 3.4%, official statistics show.

Latvian parliament approves transition to competence-based approach in education content

On Thursday, 20 September, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the Education Law, necessary for the gradual introduction of competence-based approach in education materials.

Latvian Saeima wants to disallow shareholders to work in company management board

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima approved in the first reading amendments to the Credit Institutions Law that provide for multiple measures to enhance Latvia’s finance system and its long-term stability, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Aglone Council prohibits residents from organizing protests during Pope Francis’ visit

A protest against the Catholic Church’s ban on abortions and expression of shock in relation to the recent sex scandals involving Catholic priests was planned to take place in Aglone during Pope Francis’ visit, but the city council decided to disallow them.

Latvian parliament conceptual supports pension bonus indexation

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima supported in the first reading several initiatives for a more rapid pension climb for several groups of pensioners, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Majority Saeima deputies support open president vote; UGF members fail to decide unanimously

On Thursday, 20 September, amendments to the Constitution regarding open election of the state president were approved in the second reading.

Four Estonian parties have strong support, enough to enter Riigikogu

Four Estonian parties are believed to currently have enough support to enter the Estonian parliament, a broad opinion poll showed, as leading parties compete for voter backing.

Vitol Group concerned over state of rule of law in Latvia; turns to state officials

One of the largest energy resource traders in the world – Vitol Group – has sent a letter to Latvia’s highest ranking officials, expressing deep concern over the rule of law and application of legislative acts in the litigation between LatRosTrans and Polocktransneft Druzba over the EUR 66 million worth technological oil.

As Pope heads to Baltics, more attention to Catholic sex abuse

The time, when Roman Catholic Pope Francis is set to visit the Baltics, greatly differs from the visit by Saint John Paul II in 1993. There is public resentment over the countries spending several million euros to host the trip of the pontiff and the Catholic sex abuse scandals are topic of discussion.

Officials asked to take responsibility for misuse of state resources

If misuse of state resources takes place, officials have to take responsibility and pay for the damages caused to the state, says Public Expenditure and Audit Committee chairman Andris Bērziņš.

May asks EU not to divide Britain, while Brussels waits for UK change of position

At a European Union summit in Austria, UK's Prime Minister Theresa May called on EU leaders leave behind "unacceptable" Brexit demands that according to her may rip Britain apart.

Saeima decides to divide EUR 8.3 million of healthcare budget funds to finance reforms

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has supported the initiative to divide EUR 8.277 million from the planned chronic patient care funding to further finance reforms in the country’s healthcare system.

20 complaints received in first 10 days of data protection regulation

In the first 100 days since adoption of European General Data Protection Regulation, Latvia’s Data State Inspectorate has received 20 data protection violation reports, said the centre’s director Daiga Avdejanova during a meeting of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee.

Ministry: non-banking lenders should assess clients’ solvency more carefully

Although certain improvements have been noticed in the industry, Latvia’s Economy Ministry invites amendments to make non-banking lenders perform more careful evaluation of clients’ solvency and allow creditors exchange information with one another.

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