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Monday 22.07.2019 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina
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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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Week in Lithuania: CB denies Swedbank’s Syria links, PM Skvernelis to change some ministers

Last week, PM Saulius Skvernelis revealed that the Government mulls taxing property and polluting cars, Lithuanian Railways said it will keep contract with Latvia's Sigmen, Court disqualifies itself from Paleckis case.

BNN summary of the week: Cutting a pie. Minimal wage. Dangerous games

Is there a pleasant aroma of a fresh pie in the air? Judging by events of the past week, the tasty smell of the 2020 budget has already spread across government corridors even though the dough is not ever ready.

Latvia among Baltic States with first quarter’s highest budget deficit

In Q1 2019, the general government budget deficit ratio to GDP in Latvia was higher than the average across the EU, according to data published by Eurostat.

Latvia’s industrial producer price level up 0.4% in June

Compared to May, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.4 % in June 2019. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.5 %, but prices of exported products reduced by 0.7 %.

Curious career zigzags. From shipping schemes to a warm seat in Latvian Railway

Shadow of doubt over fraud worth five million euros. Career twists with Lembergs’ approval. Secret peace treaty following Uldis Augulis’ entry to Transport Ministry. Illegal state of monopoly in the industry. What hides behind Latvian Railway chief’s «spotless» reputation?

Estonian TransferWise hires Netflix’s ex-chief financial officer

Estonian-led financial transactions start-up TransferWise has announced expansion of its board of directors with the former chief financial officer of the American online television service Netflix, David Wells.

Ukraine to reform citizenship process following Russian passport move

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, has ordered changes to the process for receving Ukrainian citizenship reacting to a Moscow decree increasing the number of Ukrainians eligible for fast-track Russian passports.

SES: barrels with chemicals found in Baldone are not harmful to people or environment

The barrels found in Baldone containing different chemicals do not present any direct threats to the environment or people, as reported by State Environment Service.

U.S. shoots down Iranian aircraft amid rising tensions in Persian Gulf

With American-Iranian relations being tense, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that an American naval ship had downed an Iranian drone that threatened the ship in the Arabian Sea.

NATO StratCom does not consider FaceApp more dangerous than Facebook

The US Democratic Party is concerned about Russian-made FaceApp, which allows its users to imagine how they might look like when they are old and retired. NATO StratCom, however, does not consider the app to be more dangerous than other apps users entrust their personal data with.

Additional information to be asked for in Latvian prosecutor general’s evaluation

Saeima deputies who initiated the investigation if there are reasons the justify dismissal of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers have been asked to clarify their request by providing more detailed information in relation to conclusions mentioned in their request.

Latvian minister wants more responsibility for the state in children rights protection

The new children’s rights protection model will delegate more functions to the state, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Scandinavian tourist killers in Morocco convicted to capital punishment

In Morocco, for the murder of two Scandinavian tourists, three Islamic State group supporters have been sentenced to death.

European Parliament urges Russia to release illegally arrested Ukrainian citizens

On Thursday, 18 July, European Parliament’s members accepted a resolution in which they invite Russia to unconditionally release all illegally and arbitrarily arrested Ukrainian citizens in Russia and occupied territories in Ukraine.

New York Times: stakes are high for Latvia in the fight against money laundering

US newspaper New York Times has published an article detailing problems with Latvia’s finance system, admitting that stakes are especially high in the fight against money laundering in this Baltic country.

Seats divided – Latvian MEPs find their jobs for the next several years

European Parliament has announced to composition of its parliamentary delegations. This includes the roles of Latvian MEPs for the first two and a half years of service, as reported by EP representative Jānis Krastiņš.

Defiant Lithuanian Parliament Speaker snubs party’s decision on his ouster

The summer’s record heatwave has withdrawn, but the Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, is sizzling – the chamber’s speaker, Viktoras Pranckietis, remains defiant, snubbing the ruling Farmers and Greens (LFGU) Council’s nearly unanimous decision to oust him from the post, following the signing of the LFGU-led new coalition agreement in early July.

Latvian Saeima committee supports increasing teachers’ wages to EUR 750

On Thursday, 18 July, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee supporter proposal for division of finances to increase minimal wages of teachers to EUR 750 in 2019.

260 more marriages than last year registered in Latvia so far in 2019

In the six months of 2019, a total of 4 730 marriages were registered, and that is 260 marriages more than during the same period of the previous year.

Dentists in Latvia may be offered compensation for work in country’s regions

To improve accessibility of healthcare services outside of Riga, it is planned to expand the range of medical specialists who are eligible for financial support when choosing to work in regions, as reported by Healthcare Ministry.

Open arms for Lidl – Estonian competition watchdog predicts lower prices

Expecting the entry of the German supermarket chain Lidl on the Estonian market, the country’s Competition Authority expects healthier competition and lower prices.

Latvian president says funding is a non-issue if public media are organized

Resolving the public media crisis will make funding a non-issue, said Latvia’s President Egils Levits in an interview to public broadcaster LTV Rīta panorama programme.

Latvian minister shocked over situation with orphans in the country

Latvia’s Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča is unpleasantly surprised with institutions’ and municipalities’ opposition towards orphaned children ending up in a family-like environment, saying it’s an «inconceivable situation».

No measles’ vaccine for child? 2 500-euro fine planned in Germany

As Germany seeks to curb an increase in measles’ cases, the federal government has passed a plan of mandatory vaccinations for children and school staff and a fine of up to 2 500 euros for lacking a vaccine.

Latvia commences procurement for public transport services in next decade

A procurement process has been announced for public transport services in Latvia for 2021-2030, as confirmed by Road Transport Directorate.

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