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Wednesday 21.11.2018 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte
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BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s healthcare problems; Syrian crisis; more restrictions for shell companies

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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; Decline; Fight; Risks; Opinion; Growth and Proposal.

CHANGE: Five of Latvian Healthcare Ministry’s institutions to be reorganized

To form an optimal structure of institutions managed by Healthcare Ministry, Latvian government plans to perform their reorganization. This will help review the main functions performed by those institutions, improve administration of healthcare services, health data analysis, as well as provide support to healthcare institutions in patient security affairs.

The main changes are planned in relation to organization of strategic procurements, data analysis capacity, monitoring functions and organization of a quality healthcare process.

Reorganization is expected to ensure that use of state budget funds in healthcare is performed by one institution – National Health Service. The State Labour Inspectorate will take over decision-making processes in relation to payment of compensations from the Treatment Risk Fund.

Disease Prevention and Control Centre will be developed as a methodical support institution for medical institutions for treatment quality and patient safety affairs. Because treatment quality and patient safety are closely dependent on clinical guidelines, clinical algorithms, and indexes to provide the full spectrum of support, it is planned to delegate clinical guideline evaluation and registration functions to Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Full article here

DECLINE: Future US Secretary of State says there is no longer any tolerance towards Russia

Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency Michael Pompeo, who has been picked by US President Donald Trump for the post of US Secretary of State, promised to members of the Senate to impose a tougher policy against Russia if he is appointed in this post.

In March 2018, Trump dismissed the Rex Tillerson from the post of US Secretary of State. The president announced his plan to appoint Pompeo in this post. On Thursday, 12 April, Pompeo is to stand before the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee to get its approval.

«Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy toward that aggression. That’s now over,» Pompeo wrote in his notes.

In regards to the Iranian matter, the former US army officer, congressman, and the head of CIA for fourteen months, said that he and Trump are prepared to correct the nuclear treaty to prevent its largest flaws.

Full article here

FIGHT: problems in Latvia’s healthcare – systematic negligence or lack of money?

«The fact that Latvia’s healthcare system is suffering from major problems is nothing new. It seems the recent reform will be nothing more than a small patch for a large, sinking ship. The fact that Healthcare Ministry remains unable to replace some piece of equipment that is vital for the survival of cancer patients is less the fault of insufficient funding and more the fault of poor planning. But even a lack of simple directions in Latvia’s leading clinical university hospitals is a sign of negligence that shows administration’s true attitude towards patients,» says Latvian Association of Regions faction leader Nellija Kleinberga.

She says that members of the party’s parliamentary faction often receive complaints from residents regarding poor directions to the Emergency Medical Assistance Centre at P.Stradins Clinical University Hospital. To check information reported by residents, LAR members visited the hospital. Conclusions are rather harsh, the party says.

Full article here

RISKS: activities of Russian security services present the largest threat to Latvia

Activities of Russian intelligence and security services present the largest threat to Latvia’s interests, according to the 2017 report of the Constitution Protection Bureau.

In it, the bureau mentions that Russian intelligence services work under cover of diplomatic services or from Russia’s territory. Interests of those services cover a wide range of matters: Latvia’s security policy, defensive capabilities and military sector are some of the priorities for Russian reconnaissance services, the bureau reports.

One positive aspect mentioned in the report states that the ability of western nations and Latvia’s society to recognize and critically assess Russian propaganda and influence from activities organized by pro-Russian organizations. This is important because Russia keeps developing complex influence operations, where cyber capabilities play a major role. One such practice is release of false news and use of cyber-attacks.

Full article here

OPINION: Syrian conflict has put the world on the brink of a major crisis

The increased tension between Russia and the West, represented by France, USA and Britain, has reached the lowest point because of the Syrian crisis ever since problems had first emerged in the region. Because of that, the world stands on the brink of a major crisis, says member of the European Parliament Artis Pabriks.

As explained by the MEPs assistant Inga Tauriņa, Pabriks is confident that increased tension outlines a deep international security and political crisis that echoes in the world. According to him, NATO and western nations should be decisive and unified to make sure this tension does not result in an armed conflict.

«This is an unequivocal warning – every country should be prepared to act in a situation of an international crisis. It is also a signal for the democratic world to consolidate. Even Latvian politicians should think about working towards common goals and successfully defending their interest in internationally complicated conditions. Now is the time when leadership is critically important,» said Pabriks.

He says the conflict is not unlike the Cuban missile crisis. There is room to turn the situation around. Unfortunately, Germany – the largest EU member state – so far has refrained from taking a side, which outlines EU’s weakness.

Full article here

GROWTH: Around 20,000 Latvian businesses will have to cease working with shell companies

Approximately 20,000 Latvian businesses will have to cease working with shell companies, said Lursoft board member Daiga Kiopa in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

She mentioned that society has a misconception that new amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing intended to strengthen the country’s financial system will only on Latvia’s banking sector. «Amendments will not apply solely to the banking sector – they will apply to companies like tax consultants, law firms, accountancy service providers and others. Approximately 20,000 companies in total,» said Kiopa, adding that these companies will have to sort their client base and cease cooperation with shell companies.

Lursoft board member reminded that the law includes three definitions of a shell company. According to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, a shell company is a legal person that fits one or three factors. Firstly – this legal person has no relation to actual business operations. Secondly, a legal person is considered a shell company if legislation of the country where it is located does not require businesses to submit financial accounts to state monitoring institutions. Thirdly, a company is considered a shell company if the legal person has no official address in the country where it is registered.

According to Kiopa, the first sign is the hardest one to determine.

Full article here

PROPOSAL: Latvian government conceptually supports making Lāčplēsis Day a holiday

On Tuesday, 10 April, Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee conceptually supported amendments to the Law on Holidays, Memorable Days and Celebrations that provide for making 11 November – Lāčplēsis Day – a holiday, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Lāčplēsis Day is among commemorative and celebrated days in Latvia. Amendments, on the other hand, provide making 11 November an official holiday. If 11 November falls on Saturday or Sunday, however, it will not be compensated with an additional holiday.

The majority of representatives from different ministries voiced support in favour of this legislative draft. Representatives of economy and finance ministries pointed to the influence of amendments on tax revenue and GDP. In the event of approval of said amendments, they proposed reviewing the number of existing holidays.

Full article here


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Old Latvian government leaves new one budget plan accepted by EC

European Commission has coordinated Latvia’s 2019 budget plan, adding that it generally fits requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact. However, the old government in Latvia is not able to push it forward. This is why it has been decided to wait for the formation of a new government in Latvia to resolve problems.

War in Yemen has lead to 85 000 children deaths from hunger, charity says

An estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have starved to death as a result of Yemen’s civil war, a report from Save the Children has found, as the charity urged an immediate ceasefire to prevent more loss of life.

Police raise charges against Jurmala mayor for possible illegal financing of UGF

In the criminal case regarding possible illegal financing of the Union of Greens and Farmers, Latvia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has officially presented charges to Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis and businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš.

Latvian ministry to search for a way to reduce antibiotics consumption

«According to antibacterial medicines consumption data, consumption of antibiotics for treatment of humans in Latvia is one of the lowest in the European Union. It is important to maintain this level or ensure its reduction. At the same time, it is also important to ensure accessibility of quality healthcare services for Latvian residents,» Healthcare Ministry reports.

Saeima continues electing heads of committees; Jurašs to be responsible for security

Election of chairpersons, deputy chairpersons and secretaries of Saeima committees continue. On 21 November Saeima deputies divided posts in ten committees. There are six more left.

Estonia ranks second in lethal drug overdoses among wealthy nations

Out of 13 well-off nations, Estonia ranks second after the U.S. in the proportion of male deaths from drug overdose, the U.S. National Cancer Institute has found, Estonian World blog wrote.

SFRS: five years after Zolitude tragedy people seems to have relaxed about security precautions

Although Zolitude Tragedy came as a lesson for many people to be more responsible with security requirements, in the last five years people have become relaxed again when it comes to safety matters, said deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Kristaps Eklons in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Five years pass since the Zolitude Tragedy in Latvia

The court investigation of Zolitude tragedy’s criminal case is progressing, according to the state prosecution. Wednesday, 21 November, marked five years since the tragedy, when the roof of a Maxima supermarket collapsed, killing 54 people and injuring several dozen.

Estonian Interior Minister Anvelt steps down

Estonian Interior Minister Andres Anvelt has announced his resignation from office as the social democrat plans to leave politics altogether.

Study: Europe and China invest the most in innovations

Compared to other territories in the world, Europe’s and China’s expenses on research and development have increased the most, with investments reaching USD 782 billion. The largest amount of money is spent on consumer industry, according to Innovation 1000 study performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Strategy&.

Afghanistan suicide terrorist causes tragic explosion

In Afghanistan, a large gathering of Islamic scholars has been hit by a tragic terror attack as not less than 50 people have been killed.

EU-UK future ties declaration held back by issues of fisheries, Gibraltar, trade

As the European Union and the UK are now negotiating principles of their future relationship, British Prime Minister Theresa May is taking part in talks in Brussels on Wednesday to try solve disagreements regarding Gibraltar, fisheries and trade.

Bribery accused ex-Riga City Council official detained in Egypt

Law enforcement authorities in Egypt have detained bribery accused former Riga City Council official Ārija Stabiņa, as confirmed by Panorāma programe of LTV.

Police admit November 11 Embankment is not the best place for mass events

Security-wise, 11 November Embankment is not the best place for mass events. Nevertheless, responsible authorities plan to analyse in the near future ways to improve security measures in this portion of Riga, as reported by Criminal Police Chief Artis Velšs.

LMIB: CCLI price should not increase in Latvia in the near future

The price of Compulsory Civil Liability Insurance is not expected to increase in the near future, said board member of Latvian Motor Insurers' Bureau Juris Stengrevics in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Competition Council permits Energia Verde to change owners

Latvian Competition Council has permitted the agreement in which Estonia-based private capital investment fund Usaldusfond BaltCap Infrastructure Fund gains decisive influence over SIA Energia Verde by acquiring 70% of its shares from AS Energoeco, BNN was informed by the council.

Latvian corruption watchdog commenced five cases on crimes in healthcare in past five years

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has sent five criminal cases associated with corruption violations in healthcare to the prosecutor’s office in the fast five years.

Saeima approves deputies for work in parliamentary committees

Latvia’s Saeima has approved deputies who will work in the parliament’s standing committees in the next four years. 92 deputies participated in the vote; no one voted against or abstained in the vote.

NATO appreciates Lithuania's defence spending as showing example

Lithuania's significant increase in defence spending has been praised by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as an example this week.

Ieva Jaunzeme becomes candidate to lead Latvia’s State Revenue Service

The personnel selection process organized to pick the new head of Latvia’s State Revenue Service has concluded. Ieva Jaunzeme has been named the winner, as confirmed by State Chancellery.

Ilves urges to celebrate things uniting Latvia and Estonia on centenary

The ex-President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, has congratulated Latvia on the 100th anniversary of its statehood and urged to look back at the historical ups and downs experienced by Estonians and Latvians since the Middle Ages that have united the two peoples.

Opinion: government formation can be described with two words – haste and ambitions

The current government formation process in Latvia can be described with two words – haste and ambitions, says ex-prime minister Valdis Birkavs.

Russia to perform OSCE Armament Control Inspection in Latvia

Over the course from 20th to 23rd November, officers of Russian armed forces will be performing Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe armament control inspection in Latvia, as confirmed by Defence Ministry.

Bishops in Poland issue apology for sex abuse against children by clergy

Catholic bishops in Poland have asked for forgiveness to child victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and other Church workers in the mainly Catholic nation.

Week’s beginning to be chilly in Latvia – air temperature at night to drop below 0° C

Weather in Latvia will remain cold at the beginning of the week. Some areas may also experience precipitation in the form of wet snow and snow. It will become warmer closer to the middle of the week. However, colder masses of air will enter the country again at the end of the week, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

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