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Saturday 22.09.2018 | Name days: Maigurs, Mārica, Māris
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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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Court reschedules viewing of criminal case due to Non-citizens Congress leader’s poor health

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court announced today that the viewing of the criminal case in which leader of Non-citizens Congress Aleksandrs Gapoņenko is accused of inciting national hate will be postponed to a later date.

Producer prices in industry up 1.0% in Latvia in August

Compared to July, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 1.0 % in August 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.9 %, but of exported products – went up by 0.1 %.

Bishop: priest suspected of sexual abuse to be operated on in hospital

Pāvels Zeiļa, who is a priest of Rezekne Aglona diocese and the suspect in the criminal case regarding sexual violence and human trafficking, will undergo a complicated surgery on Friday, 21 September, as reported by Bishop Jānis Bulis.

Study: residents withdraw money from ATMs less often but in larger amounts

Every now and then discussions about dropping cash money altogether become active in society, AS PrivatBank representatives say.

HND Grupa design company, involved in Zolitude tragery, declared insolvent

Building engineer Ivars Sergets company HND Grupa, which was involved in the case revolving around the Maxima supermarket that collapsed in Zolitude, killing 54, not five years ago, has been declared insolvent, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service suspected of misappropriation

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry’s Internal Security Bureau has detained deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Ints Sēlis and one other official – a senior inspector, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

Washington sanctions China for buying Russian military equipment

U.S. government has introduces sanctions against the Chinese army over a purchase of fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, despite a U.S. sanctions law targeting Moscow for attempts to sway in the 2016 U.S. election.

Autumn expected to begin soon in Latvia

Friday, 21 September, is expected to be warm in Latvia. Sun and considerable amount of clouds are expected, but not precipitation. Wind will draw in from the south, reaching a speed of 15-17 m/sec in western and central regions, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Brexit: a finish line with no end in sight

Less than 200 days are left before Britain officially leaves the European Union. The state of the agreement between Britain and EU only serves to create more chaos, from which neither Britain nor EU, or even Latvia will benefit.

EU underlines to London: No-deal Brexit also option

European Union's top officials and member state leaders planned to push for a Brexit deal in October, while urging London to give ground on the issues trade and the Irish border by November, to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Lithuanian PM, a presumable presidential hopeful, set to curb grocery price growth

Having chastised food retailers on many occasions for high grocery prices, Saulius Skvernelis, the Lithuanian Prime Minister, stepped forward in the bid to harness local supermarkets. The presumed presidential candidate of the ruling Farmers and Greens (LVŽS) has summoned this week executives of major retail food chains, scolded them and reaffirmed his pledge to rein in the edging up prices.

Industrial prices in Estonia – up by 3.4% on year

The industrial price index in Estonia has risen from August 2017 to August this year by 3.4%, official statistics show.

Latvian parliament approves transition to competence-based approach in education content

On Thursday, 20 September, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the Education Law, necessary for the gradual introduction of competence-based approach in education materials.

Latvian Saeima wants to disallow shareholders to work in company management board

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima approved in the first reading amendments to the Credit Institutions Law that provide for multiple measures to enhance Latvia’s finance system and its long-term stability, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Aglone Council prohibits residents from organizing protests during Pope Francis’ visit

A protest against the Catholic Church’s ban on abortions and expression of shock in relation to the recent sex scandals involving Catholic priests was planned to take place in Aglone during Pope Francis’ visit, but the city council decided to disallow them.

Latvian parliament conceptual supports pension bonus indexation

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima supported in the first reading several initiatives for a more rapid pension climb for several groups of pensioners, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Majority Saeima deputies support open president vote; UGF members fail to decide unanimously

On Thursday, 20 September, amendments to the Constitution regarding open election of the state president were approved in the second reading.

Four Estonian parties have strong support, enough to enter Riigikogu

Four Estonian parties are believed to currently have enough support to enter the Estonian parliament, a broad opinion poll showed, as leading parties compete for voter backing.

Vitol Group concerned over state of rule of law in Latvia; turns to state officials

One of the largest energy resource traders in the world – Vitol Group – has sent a letter to Latvia’s highest ranking officials, expressing deep concern over the rule of law and application of legislative acts in the litigation between LatRosTrans and Polocktransneft Druzba over the EUR 66 million worth technological oil.

As Pope heads to Baltics, more attention to Catholic sex abuse

The time, when Roman Catholic Pope Francis is set to visit the Baltics, greatly differs from the visit by Saint John Paul II in 1993. There is public resentment over the countries spending several million euros to host the trip of the pontiff and the Catholic sex abuse scandals are topic of discussion.

Officials asked to take responsibility for misuse of state resources

If misuse of state resources takes place, officials have to take responsibility and pay for the damages caused to the state, says Public Expenditure and Audit Committee chairman Andris Bērziņš.

May asks EU not to divide Britain, while Brussels waits for UK change of position

At a European Union summit in Austria, UK's Prime Minister Theresa May called on EU leaders leave behind "unacceptable" Brexit demands that according to her may rip Britain apart.

Saeima decides to divide EUR 8.3 million of healthcare budget funds to finance reforms

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has supported the initiative to divide EUR 8.277 million from the planned chronic patient care funding to further finance reforms in the country’s healthcare system.

20 complaints received in first 10 days of data protection regulation

In the first 100 days since adoption of European General Data Protection Regulation, Latvia’s Data State Inspectorate has received 20 data protection violation reports, said the centre’s director Daiga Avdejanova during a meeting of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee.

Ministry: non-banking lenders should assess clients’ solvency more carefully

Although certain improvements have been noticed in the industry, Latvia’s Economy Ministry invites amendments to make non-banking lenders perform more careful evaluation of clients’ solvency and allow creditors exchange information with one another.

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