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Sunday 19.08.2018 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta
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BNN summary of the week: influenza epidemic in Latvia; Germany vs. European Commission

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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; Fight; Business; Proposal; Decline; Recommendation; Future.

CHANGE: government asked to extend notification period for place of residence abroad

Saeima’s Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee has decided to ask the Cabinet of Ministers to extend the period of time within which residents are obligated to report their registered place of residence in foreign countries, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

The committee will ask the Cabinet of Ministers to extend the period of time to three months instead of the current one month period.

Previously, European Latvians Union’s representative informed members of the Saeima about certain problems members of Latvian diaspora face when registering their place of residence abroad with Latvia’s Population Register. One problem mentioned by the representative is the short period of time given to individuals to register their place of residence with the institution. This period of time should be extended, said the union’s representative, adding that citizens of EU member states have the right to remain in other member states for a period of up to three months with the only requirement for them is having a valid passport.

Full article here

FIGHT: conflict brewing between European Parliament and Germany about Nord Stream 2

Germany’s decision to permit Gazprom to build Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in its territorial waters is against European Parliament’s position on this matter. A serious conflict is in the works between EP and Germany. So it is possible there could be even more opposition against Nord Stream 2, says MEP Krišjānis Kariņš from the People’s Party in the European Parliament.

Kariņš reminds that members of the parliament have always been against this project. They have invited the European Commission and member states to halt this project on multiple occasions. At the same time, the parliament is currently actively working on amendments to the Directive on Gas to ensure European Commission has a real weapon to stop this project.

Full article here

BUSINESS: airBaltic commences cooperation with Air Malta

Latvian airline airBaltic and Malta’s national airline Air Malta have signed an agreement for joint flights. This partnership will provide airBaltic passengers with the opportunity to reach Malta from airports around Europe and travel to other destinations around the world from Malta.

Air Malta will provide passengers with better connectivity in Baltic States and Eastern Europe, airBaltic reports.

«We are happy to work with Air Malta. It will help us improve our strong cooperation network with other airlines. All of this will provide convenient travel arrangements for our passengers. This new cooperation agreement will improve airBaltic services in Malta and Baltic States, allowing passengers to travel using this route through airports in Vienna, Brussels, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Geneva, Zurich and others,» says airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.

Full article here

PROPOSAL: Ratas encourages EU to look into dropping annual switch summer time

Estonian head of government Jüri Ratas has voiced his support to the idea of the EU dropping the European Summer Time in accordance to which clocks are turned by one hour forward from spring to fall in the majority of EU member states.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports, citing Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht, that Ratas pointed to researchers having found negative affects people’s health and sleep cycles due to the turning of the clocks two times a year.

Full article here

DECLINE: does transit face a hard landing in Latvia?

The fact that Latvia’s ports will feel the pressure from cargo decline even more was clear since the exchange of sanctions between the European Union and Russia. Consequences to this are still present. Some industries have felt this more than others. One of the industries that have suffered the most is Latvia’s transit industry, as reported by ventspilnieks.lv portal.

Russia continues diverting more and more of its cargoes to its own ports, rather than ports of Baltic States. This is demonstrated by the compilation of last year’s indexes: turnover of cargoes at Russian ports had grown to reach 787 million tonnes last year, which is 9% more when compared with the year before. Latvia, on the other hand, suffered a 2% decline for cargo turnover, as reported by the portal.

This year is unlikely to be fruitful for cargo turnover either, and there are several reasons for that. The main objective is at least maintaining the current turnover volume and continuing the search for other solutions.

Last year, Latvian ports handled a total of 61,877 million tonnes of cargoes, which is 2% less when compared with 2016, according to data published by Transport Ministry. The largest turnover was recorded for bulk cargo segment: 33.362 million tonnes were transshipped, which is a 1.7% increase. The volume of coal cargoes handled by Latvian ports reached 17,591 million tonnes, which is 5.2% more than the year before. Still, a positive tendency was demonstrated by large turnover numbers at the beginning of the year, when Russian ports simply could not handle the volume of cargoes coming in, which forced them to divert to other ports, including ones in Latvia.

Full article here

COOPERATION: Lithuania seeks to deepen economic ties with Georgia

Lithuanian head of government Saulius Skvernelis has went on a visit to Georgia, where in talks with his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Kvirikashvili he has discussed ways to expand economic relations between the two friendly nations.

Georgian news website Georgia Today reported that after their meeting Skvernelis said in a press conference that Georgia has made a lot of progress in terms of reforms and the implementation of Association Agreement with the EU: «Georgia absolutely deserves the title of the Eastern Partnership leader, and we are sure that Georgia will maintain its leading position. This is the result of sustained efforts of the Government of Georgia, and we will always support Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration».

Full article here

RECOMMENDATION: people with flu should remain indoors for the duration of influenza epidemic

People suffering from influenza or other illnesses of the upper respiratory system should stay home and contact their family doctor as soon as the first symptoms appear to commence treatment as soon as possible, as noted by State Emergency Medical Service (SEMS).

SEMS director Liene Cipule notes: «An ambulance does not provide medical assistance in situations when people have the flu or other kind of respiratory illness. Our goal is providing medical assistance in situations when people’s lives are in danger. In most cases when residents call us, they need a family doctor’s consultation. 97% of cases involving acute respiratory illnesses are in the hands of family doctors. Treatment should be started as soon as possible to avoid future complications.»

Full article here

FUTURE: growth will continue, but ‘overheating’ risk will remain for businesses

In its latest rating, Coface international credit risks insurance company has upgraded ratings for Ukraine, Georgia, and Netherlands. Experts say there is a possibility of businesses overheating. That and political tension will be among the main business risks in 2018.

According to the new business risk rating, global trade growth has had a very positive effect on multiple open economy countries. Indexes have been improved for Netherlands (A1), South Korea (A2) and Taiwan (A2) in this quarter. With consumers’ and businesses’ confidence gradually returning, the business environment is set to improve in Greece as well. Indexes of Baltic States remain unchanged – A3 or satisfactory for Latvia and Lithuania. Estonia’s index is A2.

In spite of high political risks, Coface has improved indexes for Ukraine (C), Georgia (B) and Moldova (C). Kazakhstan’s business environment has benefited from growing oil collection and investments in China’s New Silk Way project. Risk assessment has been downgraded for Saudi Arabia (C), where increasing political tension hurts the business environment. In addition, economy of the Middle Eastern country relies a great deal on oil prices, which remain volatile.

Coface experts mention that three main business risks in 2018 are associated with overheating in developed countries, bank crisis risk in China, as well as political risks around the world. 2018 will be a year of elections for many countries, especially in Russia and Mexico, where high political risks are maintained by risks of social instability.

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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