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Saturday 18.08.2018 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena
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BNN summary of the week: Estonian minister disapproves of NATO; Latvia’s tax system lags behind

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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: Business; Change; Future; Decline; Truth and Growth.

CHANGE: Estonian Minister steps down after questioning NATO membership

Estonian Minister of Public Affairs Mihhail Korb has stated he resigns from office after saying he is not in favour of NATO membership.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Korb announced on Wednesday, May 25, following scandal that erupted earlier in the day about a comment he had made and after a lengthy discussion with Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, a fellow member of Centre Party.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Support to Rail Baltica further funding voiced by European Parliament Committee

Political support for continued funding of the railway project Rail Baltica has been acknowledged by a member of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Rail Baltic will cost close to 6 billion euros to build and will not be completed during the EU’s current budget period, so additional funding from the next joint budget is needed.

Full article here

DECLINE: Government’s indecisiveness and rushed decisions impact transit industry

The refusal of Russian Railways to carry cargoes from Russian ports to Latvia could create a state of emergency for Latvia’s transit industry, says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics.

The crisis in the country’s second largest national economy industry will strongly impact Latvia’s economy, the association states, adding that the situation became like this because of the government’s indecisiveness, rushed and unreasonable decisions, as well as its refusal to resolve problems associated with the industry’s competitiveness.

«The government’s decision to prohibit Ventspils port to participate in the massive international Nord Stream 2 project shows that the government either does not know how or does not want to serve their country’s economic interests,» BATL continues.

Logistics industry’s representatives explain that the government’s arguments about the threat posed by Nord Stream 2 project to the country’s security do not hold up against criticism. «According to Latvia’s foreign policy doctrine, Russia remains our country’s strategic cooperation partners. Talks of espionage under the cover of pipeline components’ transport are nothing more than unreasonable dramatization of the entire situation. A more realistic threat is the army of unemployed people caused by the dramatic decline of transit cargoes. It will be necessary to pay social benefits to those people. We can also expect a new wave of emigration,» says BATL president Inga Antane.

Full article here

TRUTH: Latvia’s tax system is less progressive than systems in other EU countries

The European Commission recommends Latvia to reduce the tax burden for small wage recipients and move it to other sources that are less impacting on growth and motivate people to pay taxes.

EC notes that Latvia’s income inequality is one of the highest among EU member states and the country’s tax system is less progressive than what is found in other member states.

European Council recommends Latvia to realize a fiscal policy this year and the next in accordance with requirements of Stability and Growth Pact’s preventive measures section, which includes the goal for reaching medium-term budget goals in 2018.

EC’s published recommendations urge for improvements to the adequacy of social security and increase of work force’s professional skills by speeding up the reform of training programmes in vocational education.

Full article here

GROWTH: SRS and LCCI to cooperate in search for most efficient tax payment models

Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry and the State Revenue Service have signed an agreement for the development of better solutions he assist the growth of Latvia’s national economy.

This document provides for LCCI’s participation in the development of the tax policy, associated documents and regulations as long as it fits goals of SRS’ strategy. It is also planned SRS and LCCI will cooperate in the search for more efficient methods for the payment of taxes to better combat grey economy, contribute to economic breakthrough and increase honest competition.

It is expected this cooperation will organize training for businessmen to inform them of any new developments and changes to the existing system. Regular meetings will be organized between the two sides.

Full article here

Future: Razuks hints healthcare budget’s increase would require new fees

Sides involved in discussions about finding additional finances for healthcare have yet to reach a definite agreement. It is possible there may be a new fee introduced, said Saeima Public Health sub-committee chairman Romualds Razuks told Rīta panorama on Tuesday, 23 May.

The sub-committee will view the legislative draft on gradual rejection of extended work hours for doctors. Razuks mentioned that this matter will not be resolved without a transition period because there is not enough funding.

Currently the only open option to finance this step is using money from the emergency budget. The prime minister’s work group will continue discussions about the proposal to liquidate extended work hours, added the politician.

Razuks hinted that increasing healthcare budget would require a new fee – health insurance. Otherwise there will be no other option than suffer with insufficient funding.

Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia chairman Egils Baldzens adds that there have been many different proposals mentioned in the search for funding. Unfortunately, no agreement has been reached on any of them so far.

Full article here

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Eurostat: Latvia had inflation rate higher than average in EU and Eurozone

In July, Latvia’s inflation rate was higher than the average in Europe and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

Presence of Latvian milk reduces, whereas presence of imported milk increases in Latvia

The proportion of milk produced in Latvia is starting to lose to imported milk, as concluded by Central Union of Latvian Dairy Farmers chairman Jānis Šolks.

Seven previously convicted candidates crossed from Saeima election lists

On Friday, 17 August, the Central Election Commission decided to cross out seven previously convicted deputy candidates. The decision regarding one more candidate has been postponed until the next meeting, as confirmed by the commission.

Aspiring prosecutors «drop out» in tests – half of contenders fail second stage of tests

Approximately half of aspiring prosecutor candidates has failed the second portion of tests for general and judicial knowledge.

Riga International Airport concludes first half-year with turnover increase of 13%

Riga International Airport concluded the first half-year of 2018 with turnover increase of 13% when compared to the same period of 2017, according to the airport’s unaudited and shortened account for the six-month period before 30 June 2018.

New tender announced for post of SRS director; first requirement – spotless reputation

Latvia’s State Chancellery has announced an open personnel selection process for the post of director of State Revenue Service. Application submission process will last until 14 September.

CEC to decide on four candidates’ possible relation to KGB

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received results of investigations of all 13th Saeima election candidates from Interior Affairs Ministry’s Information Centre and Latvian Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism.

Concord will have to include bread distribution costs in kebab café in its pre-election expenditures

Political party Concord will have to include in its 13th Saeima pre-election campaign expenditures the money spent by one of its candidates on distributing bread to pensioners free of charge in a kebab café in Bolderāja, as reported by TV3 news.

Weekends expected to be warm and at times hot in Latvia

On Friday, 17 August, the sky will partially cloudy again in Latvia, but no major precipitation is expected. Fog may form is certain regions at night thanks to slow wind speed. Maximum air temperature is expected to be around +22° C… +26° C. Night-time air temperature will stay at +11° C… +16° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvia’s State Audit requests additional funding to invest in workers

State Audit has requested additional funds in next year’s budget to invest in employees, as head of the institution Elita Krūmiņa mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Nearly half of children born in Latvia in 2017 were delivered by mothers with higher education

20,828 children were born in Latvia in 2017. Almost half of them were born to mothers having higher education. Out of the total number of newborn children mothers, 7,229 or 34.7 % had acquired upper secondary general or vocational education and 2,775 or 13.3 % had basic education or lower.

«Steel Magnolia» named Lithuania's most influential politician for fourth consecutive year

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, dubbed as «Steel Magnolia» by foreign press, remains the most influential politician in the country for the fourth consecutive year. In two separate polls, one by the popular ratings magazine Reitingai and the other by pollster Spinter Tyrimai, she appeared on top, being followed by Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), Valdas Adamkus, ex-president, and Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first post-independence leader.

Ex-director: Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before

In the years to come Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before, says the soon ex-director of the museum Imants Lancmanis, who intends to retire at the end of this year.

Star Rating determines the best schools in Latvia

According to the 2018 Star Rating, Riga State Gymnasium No.1 remains in the lead among Latvia’s schools. Daugavpils Russian Secondary School – Lyceum is second, and Riga State Gymnasium No.2 is third.

ABLV Bank assets worth EUR 21.052 million were recovered in July

Liquidators of ABLV Bank have recovered assets worth EUR 21.052 million in July. This includes EUR 11.602 million recovered from issued loans, EUR 7.644 million from recovered/sold securities, EUR 1,792 million from loans provided to credit institutions, and EUR 14,000 from sales of real estate and other types of property, according to the account published in Latvian Herald.

Concerns over Turkish crisis cause world stock market decline

Stock prices around the world took a massive dive on Wednesday, 15 August, as concerns over Turkish crisis’ possible influence and investors’ attempts to get rid of risky assets surfaced again.

Election commission receives word some candidates’ possible non-compliance with the law

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received information regarding possible non-compliance of multiple deputy candidates with requirements of the Saeima Election Law, says CEC chairman Arnis Cimdars.

African swine fever found in domestic pigs in Saldus; inspectors investigate illness in Unguri

African swine fever has been found in domestic pigs in Saldus Country’s Zaņa Parish. The infection was found in four domestic pigs. It cannot be excluded that ASF may have entered SIA Druvas Unguri farm’s pig enclosure along with sawdust or cars, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service Public Relations Office manager Ilze Meistere.

Lithuania lays symbolic rail on restored Mažeiķi–Reņģe railway line

Lithuania’s Lietuvos geležinkeliai railway company’s director general Mantas Bartuška and Polish oil concern Orlen manager Daniel Obatjek laid a symbolic rail on the restored railway route connecting Orlen Lithuania owned Mažeiķi oil processing plant in Lithuania and Reņģi in Latvia this Tuesday, 14 August.

Unemployment level in Latvia down to 7.7% in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.7 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, while over the year it dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

Saeima approves stricter requirements for fast loans

On Tuesday, 14 August, Saeima’s Economic Committee supported in the second reading amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law. The legislative draft states that total loan costs that exceed 0.07% a day from the loan amount are unacceptable and non-compliant with good practice, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Noord Natie develops a new business niche – attracts cruise ships for Ventspils

The first of the cruise ships attracted from SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals will arrive at Ventspils port this week. NNVT stresses that development of cruise business as a new product will help develop tourism in the city and region, as well as provide a contribution to economic development and raise recognition of NNVT terminal and the city.

Culture Ministry announces open contest for post of director of Rundale Castle Museum

Latvia’s Culture Ministry invites contenders to apply for participation in an open contest for the post of director of Rundale Castle Museum. Contenders can submit their applications before 14 September.

Lithuania’s Central Bank to assess information about Latvian VIA SMS Group

Lithuania’s Central Bank has promised to assess information regarding Latvian VIA SMS Group working in the country. This decision is a reaction to the statement made by Seimas National Security and Defence Committee member Arvydas Anušauskas that people associated with former Parex Banka owners work in that company.

Small wineries in Latvia will be allowed to use only local products

Members of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee supported amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, stating that small breweries will be allowed to use products grown only in Latvia.

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