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Wednesday 21.08.2019 | Name days: Linda, Janīna
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BNN summary of the week: hospital crisis. Empty seats. Riga City Council’s debates on seats

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Some jokes sometimes cost thousands. A phone call received by Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital regarding a planted bomb caused the hospital’s administration to evacuate patients and halt all operations that day, costing the state several thousand euros, according to the hospital’s board chairperson Ilze Kreicberga. The exact amount is unknown at the moment but it is clear that it will not be a small one.

Meanwhile, two women considered their jobs. The head of Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council chairperson Dace Ķezbere, who is accused of inaction in her post, announced plans to leave her post. Meanwhile, another politician mired in scandals Baiba Broka, who had only recently recovered her job at the University of Latvia, decided to leave the university following a backlash.

There are other empty seats that fill the minds of hopeful politicians. Riga City Council deputies excluded from Harmony have started considering supporting the mayoral candidate of Honour to Serve Riga – Oļegs Burovs. The do admit, however, it will not be easy working in such a coalition. It seems the grudge against Harmony remains fresh.

BNN offers you a summary of the most topical developments of the week, including topics such as: Expensive call; Farewell?; Deal; Dirty business; New ambassador; Slowing; Investigators; Inspection.

EXPENSIVE CALL:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital board chairperson Ilze Kreicberga

Stradins Hospital’s idleness will definitely cost the state several thousands

The idleness suffered by Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital when an anonymous phone call detailed bombing threats on 31 July will likely cost the state several thousand euros, said the hospital’s board chairperson Ilze Kreicberga in an interview to public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds.

She refrained from mentioning any specific amounts, saying that estimates will be performed soon. She did say, however, that the amount will be considerable.

Kreicberga expects the hospital to return to normal around the beginning of next week. Daycare and emergency medical assistance service are already back to normal. Currently it is necessary to review the work that was postponed because of yesterday’s events, as well as determine the state of patients who were moved to other hospitals and the patients who were released.

Full article here

FAREWELL?

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NEPLP chairperson Dace Ķezbere

Latvia’s national media council chairperson considers leaving post

Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) chairperson Dace Ķezbere considers leaving her post. She says she has yet to write her resignation, but it will be done.

NEPLP may provide more information on this soon.

NEPLP member Aurēlija Ieva Druviete says Ķezbere has informed other members of the council of her decision to step down. However, Druviete says she does not now if the resignation is ready or not.

Ķezbere is planning to leave NEPLP in September, when the Saeima gathers for its autumn session and will be able to decide on her dismissal, said Druviete. Until a replacement has been found, Ķezbere’s duties may be performed by vice-chairman Ivars Āboliņš. Druviete does not plan to step down from her post, however.

Currently NEPLP has four members. In April, Council member Gunta Līdaka had announced her decision to leave. No selection process was organized after she left and council members divided her duties among themselves.

As previously reported, Latvian Association of Journalists (LAJ) has asked the 13th Saeima to discuss the possibility of evaluating the work performed by members of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) and replace old council members with new ones.

Full article here

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBribery accused Baiba Broka decides to leave her work at University of Latvia

On Tuesday, 30 July, corruption accused politician Baiba Broka submitted a resignation to the administration of the University of Latvia, according to information from LETA.

Broka submitted her resignation, stressing that she has not committed any of the crimes she is accused of. In her resignation submitted to LU rector Indriķis Muižnieks, Broka notes that she has decided to leave to protect the reputation of the university in which she had worked since 1997.

LU vice-rector Ina Druviete has confirmed that Broka’s resignation has been received.

Broka will leave her job at the University of Latvia 30 July.

Druviete stresses that the university respects Broka’s choice and respects her decision made in the name of protecting the institution’s reputation.

Borka has yet to offer comments on this.

BNN had previously reported that just recently Broka had secured a new post in the university – she was appointed as legal affairs expert in the administration’s support group.

Full article here

DEAL:

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Valērijs Petrovs (L) and Aleksejs Rosļikovs (R)

Riga City Council’s independent deputies may consider working with HSR

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction (IDF), which combines deputies excluded from Harmony, would be prepared to sign a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga (HSR) faction, admits IDF leader Valērijs Petrovs.

According to Petrovs, the scenario in which Harmony and HSR form a coalition is currently being discussed. Additionally, there is a possibility of HSR and IDF signing a cooperation agreement, too. If such an agreement was reached, HSR mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs would receive at least 32 votes in his support.

Petrovs stresses, however, talks regarding possible cooperation with HSR «are in the state of discussion», because it is hard to tell how realistic it would be to make decisions if Harmony and IDF have no mutual communication.

«We have started discussing potential cooperation models with HSR, but we have no such communication with Harmony. Talks are complicated because the matter is as well – will we be able to make any decisions once a mayor has been elected,» said Petrovs, adding that «there is room to reach an agreement with HSR».

Not division of seats is being discussed at the moment, Petrovs claims, even though faction representatives had previously stressed that one of their requests is keeping Vadims Baraņņiks as vice-mayor of Riga.

Full article here

DIRTY BUSINESS:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUCompetition Council launches case against Riga City Council and Getliņi EKO

Latvia’s Competition Council (CC) has initiated a case against Riga City Council and Getliņi EKO for possible breach of EU establishing treaty. A temporary measure is requested, which could mean the halting of the re-signing of the waste management contract.

Other possible violations are also being investigated.

CC head Skaidrīte Ābrama explained in a conversation to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 30 July, that Riga City Council has been sent a letter detailing uncovered facts. A response will be expected until 8 August. She said that

a temporary measure would allow CC to study if the waste management contract could affect competition in Riga.

A full evaluation would require up to two years, says the head of CC.

Ābrama says there are concerns that the waste management model employed between Riga City Council and Getliņi EKO could potentially reduce competition in Riga’s waste management industry to nothing. She stressed that CC had warned about this two years ago, but the municipality did not take the warning seriously.

Full article here

NEW AMBASSADOR:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUPotential US ambassador to urge Latvia to combat money laundering more actively

Career diplomat nominated to become the next US ambassador to Latvia John Carwile told the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee that if he is approved in this post, he will urge Latvia’s government to develop and implement reforms to improve prevention of corruption and money laundering.

Carwile also said he will support efforts to resolve the matters left unsolved from the Holocaust, such as the restitution of Jewish property.

According to him, his intention is reinforcing US-Latvian relations, while also defending and promoting US interests in Latvia and Europe.

«The ties binding the United States and Latvia are unbreakable. We lead together in NATO with our commitment to collective defence and our defence spending investments. Our economic ties are vibrant. We cooperate throughout Europe and Central Asia in the promotion of democracy, good governance, market economies, and the rule of law. And we collaborate daily to ensure our transatlantic community remains strong and resilient,» said Carwile.

«If confirmed by the Senate, I intend to strengthen the U.S.-Latvian relationship while advocating for and advancing U.S. interests in Latvia and throughout Europe. I will strengthen our robust security cooperation. I will work to increase our bilateral trade and investment. I will expand upon our already strong cooperation in advancing democracy, rule of law, and development in Eastern Partnership states and across Central Asia,» he added.

Full article here

SLOWING:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFlash estimate – Latvia’s GDP up 2.1% in Q2 2019

Compared to Q2 2018, the gross domestic product volume has increased by 2.1 % in Latvia in Q2 2019.

Main upward pressure on the GDP was exerted by the volume increase in services, including rise of 2.5 % in retail trade, according to the flash estimate from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Compared to Q1 2019, GDP grew by 0.8 %, according to seasonally and calendar adjusted data.

INVESTIGATORS:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUViolations of SRS employees may be investigated by Internal Security Bureau

Latvian Interior Affairs subordinated Internal Security Bureau (ISB) may be entrusted with investigating violations committed by employees of the State Revenue Service (SRS), the ministry reports.

This is something covered by the ministry’s prepared amendment drafts for the Criminal Process Law and other associated legislation.

Established legislation states that ISB’s competence covers the investigation of violations committed by employees of institutions subordinated to Interior Affairs Ministry, except for SRS.

Crimes committed by SRS workers in their line of work are investigated by SRS Internal Security Office.

European Court for Human Rights, on the other hand, has decided that the criterion for an independent and objective investigation is considered achieved in cases when the investigation is performed by representatives of the same institution.

Full article here

INSPECTION:

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State Revenue Service director general Ieva Jaunzeme

SRS head under fire again? Finance Ministry initiates another inspection

During Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs’ vacation his replacement, Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards, has initiated another inspection of work done by the State Revenue Service, as reported by <i>TV3</i> on 1 August 2019.

Finance Ministry’s representative Aleksis Jarockis confirmed in a conversation with the programme that the inspection was launched following a request of some legal person. The inspection will focus on the legal side of work performed by the service, not some specific official.

As it is known, in July another inspection focused on the work of SRS. As a result of it, Finance Ministry’s commission asked the minister to issue a verbal reprimand to SRS director general Ieva Jaunzeme for reporting controversial information.

Jarockis had previously explained that a service inspection had taken place in regards to publicly reported information and facts in relation to the initiative to reduce the taxpayers’ burden.

Full article here


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Subsidies to controversial Riga transport company could increase by EUR 20 mln

Amid the criticism of the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme for its losses and their effect on the Latvian state budget, a plan has been voiced to increase its subsidies, now 120 million euros, by another 20 million euros, Latvian Radio reports.

Latvian Minister keeping adviser detained by corruption watchdog for now

Latvian Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards will clarify the reason, why his advisor and the mayor of the city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, has been detained by corruption investigators, to decide on keeping him in office.

Trump, Macron willing to readmit Russia to G7, despite Crimea annexation

The leaders of France and the United States have expressed their backing to readmitting Russia to the G7 conference of world powers in 2020, despite Ukraine’s Crimea still being held by Moscow, CNN reports.

Latvian excise tax income up by 8% in first half of 2018

The Latvian excise tax income in the first half of 2019 has been 521 million euros, –an increase by 39 million euros, or 8.1% – compared to the respective period last year, showed data by the Latvian State Revenue Service.

Latvian PM: Most of freely available 2020 budget funds already earmarked

Discussing the 2020 Latvian national budget, Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš pointed out that its fiscal space is limited by previous decisions and that the expected losses of the Riga transport company will not permit raising wages and pensions nationally.

Corruption watchdog detains Ogre city mayor Helmanis

The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has on Wednesday detained the mayor of central Latvian city of Ogre, Egils Helmanis, according to LETA news agency.

New members to Freeport of Riga Authority elected, despite criticism

The Riga City Council elected to the Board of the Freeport of Riga Authority, mayor Oļegs Burovs and councilman Sandris Bergmanis, despite heavy criticism of the latter for incompetence and lack of vision.

Italy loses government, coalition of right-wing, anti-establishment parties collapses

Italy has lost its government with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announcing resignation after the right-wing League party pushed for no-confidence motion to its own government.

Kaljulaid opposed to Estonian minister after police chief scandal

Alleging that Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme has violated the law by trying to sack top police chief, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has stated that the minister has no place in the government.

Planned Latvian economic cases’ court conceptually backed by government

The plan by the Latvian Ministry of Justice to establish a court of economic cases has on Tuesday, August 20, been supported by the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

Riga deputy mayor posts go to Harmony and independent politician

In the Riga City Council, deputy mayors have been elected with one post going to Anna Vladova from Harmony and the other – to Vadims Baraņņiks from the group of independent councilmen.

Latvia charges energy company executives for attempted fraud

Two board members of Latvian power company SIA Rīgas enerģija have been charged in a criminal case for an attempt to acquire with deceit the rights to supply electricity as part of the mandatory procurement component programme.

Consumer protection: 34% of Latvians admit post-vacation financial difficulties

During vacation, 77% of Latvians spend more money than planned, but 34% admit having trouble making ends meet after vacation, according to a poll by the Latvian Consumer Protection Centre.

Firms like Riga transport company to be banned from working with losses, minister says

As the European Union’s statisticians have classified the Riga municipal transport company Rīgas satiksme in the debt of the national budget, it is planned in Latvia to prohibit such companies from working with losses, Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs has told LNT 900 sekundes programme.

Minor dies in large fire in Latvia

An underage person has been found dead in a large fire in the Latvian region of Vidzeme, the Latvian Fire and Rescue Service has said. Person wascsaved from burning house in Liepāja.

UK aims to end free entry of EU citizens on October 31

UK to stop free migration from European Union member states to the country right after the likely no-deal Brexit on October 31, the British government has stated.

Riga city elects new mayor – Oļegs Burovs – and restores decade-old coalition

The Riga City Council has elected Oļegs Burovs as the new mayor, ending two months of political discussions and restoring the coalition that has ruled in the Latvian capital for ten years.

EU: Rīgas satiksme cuts Latvian budget fiscal room in 2020 by 72 mln EUR

The Riga city company Rīgas satiksme should, according to European Union criteria, be in included in the general government sector, thus it would cut the fiscal space of the 2020 Latvian state budget by 72 million euros, Finance Ministry stated.

Latvijas Krājbanka’s administrator recovered 542 thousand euros in July

The administrator of the insolvent Latvian bank Latvijas Krājbanka recovered 524 444 euros in July, which is by 75% more than a month earlier, according to the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis.

Latvian post-reform administrative centres to have 2 000 - 630 000 populations

After the planned administrative reform of Latvia, the population size of the administrative centres of the new municipalities is expected to vary from 2 000 to 632 000 people, according to a conceptual report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

A week of warm, but changing weather forecast for Latvia

Weather in Latvia this week is expected to be summer-like and warm, with rain expected on Thursday and Friday, according to the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Kabul wedding terror attack committed by Islamic State, the group says

Responsibility for the terror attack in Afghanistan, where explosives killed 63 people. has been claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group.

British Gibraltar releases seized Iran oil tanker

An Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar, part of the United Kingdom, has sailed away from port after being allowed to do so despite Washington’s call to detain it again.

BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s biggest budget; PNB Bank halts operations; Latvia sad with Latvia

Some positive news surfaced in Latvia this week – Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš announced that the country’s next budget will be the largest one yet and will exceed EUR 10 billion. In spite of this, however, financial difficulties have been observed – PNB Bank has ended up in a tight spot. The bank’s shortage of funds has forced Finance and Capital Market Commission to halt all of the bank’s financial operations.

Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

Last week, President Gitanas Nausėda rejected the government’s candidate for EU judge, hints of big changes at Šiaulių Bankas ahead

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