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Saturday 15.12.2018 | Name days: Jana, Johanna, Hanna
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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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Experts: fiscal consolidation is unavoidable next year

The new government will have to perform fiscal consolidation when compiling the state budget for 2019. This opinion was sent to the Saeima and Cabinet of Ministers by the Fiscal Discipline Council in relation to the 13th Saeima’s approval of amendments for the Healthcare Law that provide for a 20% wage increase for doctors starting next.

Ventspils opposition: the Constitution stands above municipality’s opinions on city governance

«For us to work to our full capacity, we require information and stay in the loop. If the work of the city council was organized during meetings of the city council and committees, we would have this opportunity. But because the work of the city council is put under other institutions – committees, in this case – and we [majority of opposition deputies] are not allowed to participate in those meetings and receive documents, this means our rights as deputies and voters are being limited. This, we believe, is the most important aspect to be breached,» said Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis said during a hearing of the Administrative Court in Liepaja in regards to Ventspils City Council’s refusal to adopt proportionality principles in committees and other structures.

EU offers Britons clarification, but no renegotiation of Brexit deal

European Union member state leaders and the blocs top officials have stated at a summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, that the Brexit withdrawal agreement that lacks clear support in UK parliament was not open for renegotiation.

Estonia raises minimum wage

The minimum monthly wage in Estonia has been approved at the level of 540 euros, which is an increase from 500 euros.

This year e-signature was used to sign more than 5.7 million documents in Latvia

This year, e-signature was used more than half a million times a month in Latvia. A total of 5.7 million documents have been signed using this function in Latvia so far. More than 25,000 now use e-signature function on their smart-phones.

Trump distances himself from crimes committed by his lawyer

Reacting to the conviction of American lawyer Michael Cohen over campaign funding violations, U.S. President Donald Trump has distanced himself from the lawyer and accused him of attempts to embarrass Trump.

New Unity starts consultations with parties on forming government with Kariņš in charge

New Unity will insist on getting Finance Ministry in the new government, because it is only logical to have this ministry managed by the prime minister’s party, says NU representative and Saeima deputy Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš.

Strasbourg terrorist «neutralised» after opening fire on police

The attacker suspected of killing two people and injuring 12 more people at a Strasbourg Christmas market has been shot dead by French police.

Next week in Latvia to start off with snowfall

The end of the week is not expected to have any major weather changes in Latvia, whereas next week will start off with snowfall and gradual decline of air temperature, promises Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Court arrests Harmony sponsor and Honour to Serve Riga party member

Riga City Vidzeme District Court issued an arrest to businessman Aleksandrs Krjačeks on Thurday, 13 December. He was previously detained by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in the criminal case regarding procurements organized by SIA Rīgas satiksme, as confirmed by the man’s lawyer Valdis Ulmanis.

Saeima: increase of doctors’ wages should be a government priority

When preparing the budget plan for the next three years, the government should allocate money for the 20% increase of doctors’ wages. This is provided by changes to Healthcare Financing Law, approved by the Saeima in two readings on Thursday, 13 December.

airBaltic to perform more flights between Riga and Liepaja

During a visit today in Liepaja CEO of Latvian airline airBaltic Martin Gauss announced that airBaltic will increase the number of domestic flights between Riga and Liepaja from three to five weekly as of summer season 2019.

Court arrests Škoda commercial director; CPCB request arrests for two more people

Latvian court has arrested Škoda commercial director Vladislav Kozak following a request from Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in relation to the criminal case regarding procurements performed by Rīgas satiksme.

EY: investments in crypto currency offers have largely failed

86% of 141 initial crypto currency offers presented last year have lost value over the course of the first eight months of this year. Additionally 30% of them have lost nearly all of their value, according to Initial Coin Offerings study by EY.

Estonian criminal figure convicted in Ireland

A court in Ireland has convicted Estonian criminal figure Imre Arakas, finding him guilting of conspiracy to murder.

As income increase, housing becomes more accessible in all Baltic capitals

Housing Accessibility Index improved in all Baltic capitals in Q3 2018. The main factor for this was the growth of average net salaries. Additionally, beneficial economic development also improved households’ interest for housing acquisition, which was reflected both in increased activity on the apartment market and household loan portfolio growth.

Lithuanian PM suspects Kremlin-backed opposition behind teacher attacks

The nearer municipal council, presidential and EP elections, the more sparkles Lithuania’s political leadership spews out. With the linguistic weaponry exhausted in the Seimas, the party leaders seek help from intelligence services.

EP proposes stricter monitoring of militants returning to Europe to combat terrorism better

The European Parliament has presented proposals for better measures against radicalization, better data exchange and support of victims of terrorism, as well as several other proposals for European Union’s strategy for terrorism prevention.

Latvian media organizations found Media Ethics Council

On Wednesday, 12 December, Latvian Media Ethics Council was founded. It is a public organization meant to unite media organizations and legal persons associated with the media sector and supervise compliance with the council’s statutes and code of ethics, the council explains.

U.S. President's former lawyer sentenced to prison

The former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump has been handed a prison sentence for violations of the rules of election campaign. A New York court has sentenced Michael Cohen to three years in federal prison.

Latvian parties hear New Unity leader’s offer; opinions on coalition still differ

Political parties in Latvia are prepared to listen to New Unity and its prime minister candidate Krišjāņis Kariņš’s initiative in the government formation process.

British PM stays after no-confidence vote, attends EU summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a no-confidence vote in her ruling Conservative Party and on Thursday attends a summit of the European Union.

European Parliament ratifies EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

On Wednesday, 12 December, gave green light for EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which is EU’s all-time largest mutual trade agreement.

Businessman Māris Martinsons brought to court. What will the court decide?

Businessman Māris Martinsons has been brought to testify in court. As it is known, he was detained by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on 11 December.

Employers become more open to 3rd level pension contributions

Employers in Latvia have begun making more active contributions to 3rd level pension plans. Residents’ interest towards crating pension savings continues growing, too. Compared to the period of last year, the size of contributions to private pension funds has increased 10% in the first nine months of 2018.

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