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Sunday 26.01.2020 | Name days: Agneta, Agnis, Ansis

BNN summary of the week: LDz board members depart; SRS chief blasted; problems for ReRe

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This week, something that has been expected by many experts of Latvia’s transport industry finally happened – it was decided that Edvīns Bērziņš is no longer chairman of the board of Latvian Railway (LDz). Although he had received multiple no-confidence decisions and accusations of corruption, the decision to terminate work relations was made by him together with Aivars Štrakšas. The question as to whether or not the decision was made under pressure was not answered.

Another unexpected announcement came from Latvian state company State Real Estate. The company terminated its contract with ReRe Būve 1 for the reconstruction of New Riga Theatre. SRE now intends to invite construction institutions, Latvian Association of Civil Engineers and Economy Ministry to evaluate the work performed by ReRe Būve 1 and consider revoking its certificate.

The fight for better wages, meanwhile, continues at Latvijas Radio. Chief of the State Revenue Service Ieva Jaunzeme has received her first major reprimand from Finance Minister Jānis Reirs.

BNN offers you a summary of the most topical developments of the week, including topics such as: Posting, Addition; Stain; Announcement; Fight; Decision and Grant.


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

LDz board chairman Edvīns Bērziņš (L) and LDz board member Aivars Strakšas

Train has left the station. Latvian Railway loses board chairman and board member

The council of Latvian Railway (LDz) has agreed to terminate work relations with the company’s board chairman Edvīns Bērziņš and board member Aivars Strakšas, as journalists were told by LDz Council chairman Jānis Lange.

The two aforementioned officials decided to leave their posts of their own accord. Officially they will cease being members of the board with 12 August. Ēriks Šmuksts and Ainis Stūrmanis will continue working in the company’s board.

«Considering that a situation has formed when there is no active dialogue between the heads of the company, the ministry and the company’s board, the decision has been made to put an end to this uncertainty and start moving forward,» Lange said after a meeting of LDz council.

He added that freight turnover has gone down in the past several months, and that a longer period of uncertainty would only affect indexes further.

Lange said the council’s goal is representing the interests of the shareholder, which in this case is the Latvian state.

«And it is in the interests of the state to secure stable and development-aimed function of LDz. If this uncertainty is allowed to continue for a long time, it could negatively affect the company’s development and cause considerable damage for LDz and the entire industry. Today’s decisions made by the council in regards to the agreement and approval of temporary board members is intended to prevent these negative consequences,» explained Lange.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUReRe Būve 1 no longer engaged in restoration of New Riga Theatre

Latvia’s VAS State Real Estate (SRE) has terminated its contract with construction company ReRe Būve 1 in the restoration of New Riga Theatre.

SRE plans to invite state construction supervisory institutions, Latvian Association of Civil Engineers and Economy Ministry to evaluate the work performed by ReRe Būve 1 attracted construction manager and consider revoking his certificate, says SRE board member Kitija Gruškevica.

Violations uncovered during the reconstruction of the theatre include insufficient analysis of documents prior to commencing construction work, provision of false statements to the client, significant violations of safety regulations, as well as unjustified delays with the contract’s completion terms, SRE reports.

Meanwhile, ReRe Būve board chairman Valdis Koks believes his company is accused of mistakes committed by the project’s developer SIA Zaigas Gailes birojs, and that complaints from SRE are completely unjustified. If SRE does not retract its accusations, the company will turn to court, Koks said.

According to him, while working on New Riga Theatre’s reconstruction, ReRe Būve 1 had followed the developed project to the letter. However, although errors and problems were uncovered during the reconstruction process, no solutions were provided, putting the project at risk. The chairman notes that more than 100 errors were found, with 33 of them putting at risk reconstruction efforts.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUState budget expenses for the Saeima to be increased

Next year, it is planned to request EUR 2.6 million more from the state budget to cover additional Saeima expenditures. Most of the additional funds will be spent on replacing the voting system, security and construction-related affairs.

Approximately EUR 25.93 million is planned to be allocated to finance Saeima’s function next year. The amount will be covered using grants from the state budget worth EUR 25.15 and the Saeima’s own revenue, which is planned at EUR 280 000.

The expenditures section also includes the following positions – negative financial balance worth EUR 500 000 and financing worth EUR 500 000.

This year, Latvia’s Saeima was provided with EUR 23 million (EUR 22.56 million from the state budget and EUR 450 000 from Saeima’s revenue).

This means next year’s state budget grant may be 11.5% or EUR 2.6 million larger than this year’s.

As reported by Saeima’s press-service, the budget project’s outlined funding for «several important and immediate investments in the parliament’s infrastructure», which causes the planned budget’s increase when compared to 2019.

Full article here


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State Revenue Service Director General Ieva Jaunzeme

SRS director general may be reprimanded for reporting controversial information

Latvia’s Finance Ministry’s specially formed commission has suggested Jānis Reirs to issue a reprimand to State Revenue Service (SRS) director general Ieva Jaunzeme for issuing controversial information. Such a measure is confirmed by the ministry’s representative Aleksis Jarockis.

He adds that a service inspection has been performed by the ministry in relation to publicly reported information. Additionally, facts in relation to the initiative for the reduction of the taxpayers’ burden have also been evaluated.

«In order to clarify facts and determine the reasons behind inaction, as well as proposals for more efficient adoption of regulations, the ministry proposed forming a service inspection commission. The commission found there are no reasons to commence a disciplinary case. Publicly reported information about the possible disciplinary case against SRS director general is not true,» said Jarockis.

According to him, Finance Ministry has found that the SRS director general has reported partial and controversial information about lack of cooperation with state administration institutions.

«This is why the ministry’s inspection commission has proposed issuing a reprimand to the director general of SRS. First, however, it is proposed to use all cooperation option to avoid creating fertile ground for conflicts and instead work proactively to accomplish common goals of all state administration institutions,» admits Jarockis.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Saeima deputies’ wages to grow 5.5% next year

Wages of Saeima deputies are set to increase along with the average wage in Latvia next year. To ensure this, Saeima’s budged plans to allocate an additional amount of EUR 268 000, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

It is planned that the monthly wage of deputies will grow from EUR 2 963 to EUR 3 125 before taxes next year. The relevant amount was calculated in accordance with requirements of the law that governs deputies’ wages, multiplying the average wage of EUR 976 by the factor 3.2.

The new mathematic formula in the law will be used for the first time to calculate Saeima deputies’ wages next year. Deputies’ wages will grow less than they did in accordance with the previous formula, in accordance with which wages would have grown 8.4% (to EUR 3 213).

Additionally, in accordance with the factor used in the law, the wage paid to Saeima speaker, members of the Praesidium, as well as faction and committee heads will also increase.

Full article here


Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvijas Radio wants to resolve crisis at LR2 with funding from state budget

The board of Latvijas Radio wants to resolve the situation with Latvijas Radio 2 using additional state funding, as confirmed by members of the board.

The shortage of funds affects not only Latvijas Radio News Service but all of the radio station’s branches, admits the company’s board.

The average age of LR2 employees is EUR 904 before taxes. With additional projects and bonuses the amount reaches EUR 988. In other channels, wages are EUR 100 higher, explains Latvijas Radio management.

The budget request for 2019 – nearly a million, requested for next year’s wages – is intended to raise wages for the entire team of Latvijas Radio, reminds the board, adding that the biggest wage increase is planned for content creators. This means programme hosts of LR2.

The board did add, however, that this does not mean wages for all employees will be increased equally.

The increase will be calculated based on two factors – equalize wages between channels for people performing similar jobs and job complexity.

Full article here


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Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits

Latvian minister may consider raising tax on diesel fuel to finance road maintenance

In order to find money to finance road maintenance in Latvia, the option of increasing excise tax for diesel fuel is not entirely excluded, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 22 July.

He explained the possible increase of excise tax on diesel fuel with the movement towards a more environment-friendly transport industry.

«On the one hand this is a painful solution, but on the other hand it offers a way to finance road maintenance,» explained the minister, adding that the proposal will be discussed only once the government starts tackling the tax system.

Full article here

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Development of areas along Rail Baltica line will require investments worth EUR 300 million

In order to implement infrastructure development projects along Rail Baltica line in Riga, it will be necessary to secure investments up to EUR 350 million in the next ten-year period, as reported by Riga City Council chairman Oļegs Burovs.

Olainfarm shareholders fail to convene due to lack of quorum

Because of the lack of quorum, the extraordinary meeting of Olainfarm shareholders originally scheduled for Friday, 24 January, did not take place. It was planned to discuss changes to the company council during this meeting, as reported by the company’s representative Ieva Lapiņa-Ennīte.

EY: investors more optimistic about Latvia’s economic competitiveness

Last year, investors’ opinion of the competitiveness of Latvia’s economy improved for nearly all indexes, as reported by EY Latvija representatives.

Bulgaria accuses three Russian citizens for poisoning of arms producer

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Ignoring sanctions, Ventspils City Council approves budget created under Lembergs’ watchful eye

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Latvian residents trust National Armed Forces the most and the Saeima the least

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In China, coronavirus claims more lives as transport limitations put in place

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Information about VDD new office building’s construction costs is a state secret

Although some media have mentioned different amounts of money the construction of a new office for the State Security Service at the location of former Marss cycling track may cost, the service reports that this information is considered a state secret.

Kariņš: Latvia is no longer the younger brother – our country’s voice is heard

Latvia is no longer the younger brother on the international arena – our country is heard and its opinion is taken seriously, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš at annual foreign policy debates on Thursday, 23 January.

Poland passes law on limiting public actions, statements of judges

The Polish Sejm has passed a draft law that sets forth limiting the say of judges over justice appointments, court reform and politics. The limitations have been widely criticised abroad.

Linkaits: banks once again service Ventspils Freeport terminals

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Aivars Lembergs picks ex-prime minister’s freelance advisor Grudulis as his lawyer for debates

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What is Lithuanian President’s main reason to skip Jerusalem Holocaust forum?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has unexpectedly flip-flopped on where and how to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. First, he said he will attend the commemoration in Jerusalem, but then changed his mind to pay homage to the Jewish victims in Auschwitz, in Poland. The reason? Well, there is no clear official reason for that – President’s Office did not provide one.

Audit: Rail Baltica slowed by poor risk management and slow progress with municipalities

Delays and cost increase of Rail Baltica project is heavily affected by no risk management and no strategy, as well as slow progress in cooperation with municipalities and passive alienation of properties, Latvian State Audit concluded in its latest report.

China stops public transport in two cities over coronavirus

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BNN investigation | Rebenoks and Krieķis may have plans to return to Olainfarm board despite ties to serious crimes

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In Estonia, forgetting to register child’s name can lead to municipality choosing it

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Change of concept? Viesturs Kairišs becomes Dailes Theatre’s artistic director

Dailes Theatre’s board member Juris Žagars has picked Viesturs Kairišs as the theatre’s new artistic director, as journalists were told by Žagars on Thursday, 23 January.

Lukashenko: Belarus needs to diversify its oil imports, introducing Baltic supplies

As Minsk and Moscow are in talks to solve a dispute over the continuation of oil imports from Russia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that Russian supplies could be cut to 30-40% of Belarus’ total imports.

Minister does not exclude possibility of number of municipalities in Latvia increasing

The Administrative Territorial Reform offers reducing the number of municipalities to 39 in Latvia. Still, it is possible there may be one or two more, said Latvian Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Thursday, 23 January.

Thirteen people die from influenza in Latvia

Three people died from influenza in Latvia last week, increasing the number of victims to 13 for this year’s flu season, according to monitoring data of acute upper respiratory tract infections published by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Lithuania tries to halt haulage firm exodus to Poland with new tax

Lithuania is introducing a new «exit tax» to keep road haulage firms from relocating to other European Union member states. The firms say that other ways of moving business abroad will be used.

Corruption fighters: corruption perception indexes decline in Latvia in 2019

Latvia’s positions had worsened slightly in 2019 in global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International composed Corruption Perception Index.

UK parliament passes draft Brexit law

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