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Friday 14.12.2018 | Name days: Gaisma, Auseklis
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BNN summary of the week: KPV LV confused; Bank of Latvia head takes centre stage

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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: Investigation; Future; Environment; Conflict; Refusal.

INVESTIGATION: Authorities commence criminal prosecution against Bank of Latvia governor

Latvian prosecutor’s office has commenced criminal prosecution of bribery accused Bank of Latvia governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons.

In the criminal process received from Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on 18 June, a request is detailed to commence criminal prosecution of two people – Rimšēvičs and Martinsons. On 28 June, the prosecutor’s office made the decision to commence criminal prosecution of the two men, as BNN was told by Prosecutor General’s Office Public Relations specialist Una Reķe.

Bank of Latvia governor is accused of bribery, whereas the other person is accused of supporting bribery.

As previously reported, in February Rimšēvičs was made a suspect in a criminal case investigated by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. The size of the bribe in question is at least EUR 100,000. Martinsons was initially detained by authorities as a second suspect but was later released. Instead the businessman was applied with a security measure not associated with deprivation of freedom.

Rimšēvičs, on the other hand, is not allowed to perform his duties as governor of the Bank of Latvia, as well as meet certain people and travel from the country.

Full article here

FUTURE: Economy Ministry says it is necessary to reduce the volume of low-skilled workforce

Employment opportunities are set to expand in the next decade. However, demographic tendencies and regional labour market differences will create an even stronger need for labour force, according to Latvian Economy Ministry’s medium and long-term labour market outlooks.

«To ensure sustainable economic development, it is necessary to raise productivity in business sector, education system and every person’s life. Business has to become productive to reduce costs and raise wages to workers. The education system should provide the labour market with appropriate labour force with an emphasis on education system and competence-based approach. Every one of us should learn modern skills to help raise our competence and competitiveness on the labour market,» says Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Shortage of medium-skilled labor will become more pronounced. This will be felt the most by processing and construction sectors. Education offer structure has become more balanced and more in line with labour market needs. However, the number of specialist that enter the labour market is still below the desired level, according to information from the ministry.

Full article here

ENVIRONMENT:  Fire at BAO landfill for dangerous waste; fire fighters still on the scene

A fire started on the territory of AS BAO landfill for dangerous waste in Olaine last night. Latest reports state it has since been localized, as confirmed by State Fire and Rescue Service representative Inta Palkavniece.

Because dangerous chemical waste is stored at the landfill, fire fighters threw a great deal of resources to put out the fire – at least 34 fire fighters, said Palkavniece. SFRS reports that evacuation is not necessary. Nor is it necessary to establish any restrictions for residents to go outside.

Representatives of the State Environment Service have arrived at the scene.

BAO chairman confirmed that a fire appeared within the company’s owned territory in Olaine last night. He said the fire has been localized. The company has commenced discussions with the State Environment Service about consequences of the fire.

Full article here

CONFLICT: Opinion: the reasons behind accusations against KPV LV are confusing

«On a basic level we have a feeling there is nothing there, because the reasons behind accusations are confusing,» said KPV LV board member Linda Liepiņa in a telephone conversation with BNN after her interrogation at Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Liepiņa also said the questions she was asked were associated with the addresses KPV LV’s previous addresses and the person who asked her to join the party. For the record, the person who asked her to join was Kaspars Upacieris.

KPV LV board member also mentioned that investigators who interviewed her made no attempts to turn the conversation towards any possible violations regarding possible illegal funding. Also she was asked no questions about other people associated with accusations imposed against the party.

When asked if accusations were fabricated, Liepiņa replied: «I cannot say. As far as I can tell, they [CPCB] are acting in response to an application from Ilmārs Poikāns».

CPCB mentioned in its statement to the press that two people have been found suspects in a criminal case launched in June 2017. The two are accused of illegal financing of political organizations, as well as group fraud.

Full article here

REFUSAL: Jurmala’s bronze tortoise sculpture to be auctioned off; municipality says it is illegal

During the artRiga art festival this autumn, it is planned to auction off one of Jurmala’s symbol – the famous bronze tortoise sculpture, says sculptor Jāņis Bārda’s wife Aivija Bārda.

The sculptor’s family explains their decision with the fact that the municipality has failed to pay in full for the sculpture in the last decade. ‘Due to recent events, our family needs a new home. Because of that, we have decided to sell the bronze tortoise. There is a great deal of interest for it,’ says the family’s representative.

Bārda mentioned that the sculptor still has not received the full payment for the sculpture even though 20 years have passed. She also mentioned events that took place in 1995. According to her, Jurmala City Council had placed an order for a sculpture in 1995. «However, when the sculpture was complete the money for it was transferred to then the city’s chief artist Egīls Kuks’ personal bank account. He promised to give the money to Jānis. However, hoping to make money, he decided to put it all in a bank as a deposit. That bank later went bankrupt, and the money was lost,» explains Bārda, adding that the family still has not received the money even though they had invested their personal money in the sculpture’s creation.

The municipality had allocated LVL 8,000 for the sculpture. According to Bārda, the tortoise is her family’s property, because no one paid for it and there is no commission agreement with the municipality. Her family also has Kuks’ promissory note.

Jurmala City Council representatives, on the other hand, claim «Aivija Bārda is neither the author nor the owner of the sculpture». Therefore the planned auction is viewed by the city council as illegal.

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.