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Tuesday 12.11.2019 | Name days: Kaija, Kornēlija
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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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Doctors: Healthcare Ministry’s offered wage increase model is unfair

Healthcare Ministry’s proposed model for wage increase for doctors is unfair is goes against the previously voiced desire to raise wages for all healthcare workers equally, said chairman of Latvian Young Doctors Association Kārlis Rācenis and Latvia Health and Social Care Workers Trade Union chairman Valdis Keris.

NATO planes intercept one Russian war plane

In the Baltics, NATO fighter jets from the air policing mission, were last week scrambled once to respond to an alert of a Russian military aircraft.

Proposal to merge FKTK and Bank of Latvia makes it to third reading in Saeima

On Tuesday, 12 November, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided to submit to the Saeima amendments to the Law on the Bank of Latvia for the third reading. These amendments, among other things, provide for the merging of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Estonian village for autism care under construction

In Estonia’s north-west, a village, where different forms of the care of persons with autism spectrum disorder is under construction.

Value of September’s exported goods in Latvia up 2.5% when compared to 2018

In September 2019 the foreign trade turnover of Latvia amounted to EUR 2.44 billion, which at current prices was 1.6 % less than a year ago, of which the exports value of goods was 2.5 % higher, but imports value of goods was 4.6 % lower.

Court declares Latvian cosmetics manufacturer Dzintars insolvent

On Tuesday, 12 November, Riga City Pardaugava Court declared Latvian cosmetics manufacturer AS Dzintars insolvent. Jānis Ozoliņš was appointed as the company’s insolvency administrator, as confirmed by the court’s representative Viktorija Mežance.

EU’s hand extended to Belarus as Lukashenko visits Austria

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is on Tuesday, November 12, on a visit to Austria. It is his first foreign visit to an European Union member state in three years.

Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry proposes increasing wages for residents by 20%

Healthcare Ministry has come forth with a proposal to increase wages of local residents by 20% and wages of all other healthcare workers by 10%.

«The children arrive truly traumatised». Lithuania hosts 500 Ukrainian pupils

In Lithuanian schools, there currently learn more than 500 students from Ukraine, including the war-torn east of the country.

Internal Security Bureau’s investigations fail to improve situation in interior affairs services

Results of pre-trial investigations of the Internal Security Bureau (IDB) do not inspire improvement for the situation to improve within interior affairs services, which remain riddled with crimes of various categories, the bureau admits.

Ukrainian central bank ex-governor links attacks to oligarch over PrivatBank

Valeria Gontareva, whose family has been targeted in car and arson attacks, has linked the unclear events to an Ukrainian oligarch and the nationalisation of Ukraine’s largest bank PrivatBank.

Saeima Budget Committee’s head says it is hard to vote against popular things

«It is very hard to vote against popular things. In politics there will always be a situation when initiatives exceed abilities,» said chairman of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee Mārtiņš Bondars in an interview to Latvijas Radio, commenting on the approval of the country’s budget for 2020.

Ex-finance supervisory office’s head applies for Bank of Latvia governor’s post

Ex-chairman of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Uldis Cērps has officially submitted his candidacy for the post of governor of the Bank of Latvia.

Australia fighting over 50 bushfires amid strong winds

In Australia’s south-east, communities have been warned of «catastrophic» conditions as the state of New South Wales is fighting more than 50 bushfires. About six million people live in the region.

Tender for public transport service rights under fire over questionable rules

Latvia’s Procurement Monitoring Bureau has prohibited Road Transport Directorate from continuing the procurement procedure without amendments and signing the contract for regional public transport services for 2021-2030, according to the decision made by IUB Submissions Review Committee.

Saeima’s budget committee supports Latvia’s 2020 budget outline in first reading

On Monday, 11 November, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee concluded work on the next year’s budget, supporting its submission to the parliament for the final reading.

Ankara begins sending Islamist extremists back to West

Turkey has on Monday, November 11, announced the start of deporting foreign radical Islamist fighters back to their countries of origin. Turkey has over a thousand foreign Islamic State fighters in custody.

Number of murders and murder attempts up in Latvia this year

When compared to 2018, there has been an increase in the number of murders and murder attempts in Latvia in the nine months of 2019. The majority of those crimes were committed during alcohol drinking, according to data from Latvia’s State Police.

Tallinn’s payments into EU’s budget to increase by some EUR 120 mln

The payments of Estonia into the multiannual financial framework of the European Union could grow by around 120 million euros annually from the year 2021, yet the Baltic country still expects to receive considerably more than it contributes.

Construction output in Latvia increases 5.9%

Compared to Q3 2018, construction output had increased by 5.9 % in Q3 2019. Construction output rise was observed in construction of buildings as 11.7 %, civil engineering as 2.1 % and specialised construction activities as 2.4 %.

Economist: high rent prices in Riga contribute to emigration

The high rent prices may be the reason why in spite of low unemployment levels and shortage of labour force people from Latvia’s regions depart to foreign countries, not Riga, says Citadele Bank’s economist Mārtiņš Āboliņš.

Russia starts selling train tickets to annexed Crimea

A Russian railway company has begun selling train tickets from St. Petersburg to Crimea, the peninsular illegally seized from Ukraine. The first trip from St. Petersburg for Sevastopol in December will take 43.5 hours.

Latvia celebrates 100th anniversary of Lāčplēsis Day

Today, 11 November, Latvia celebrates Lāčplēsis Day and the 100th anniversary of the Bermondt affair, honouring the troops who died in Freedom Fights and other defenders of the state.

October’s unemployment level in Latvia at 5.7%

The registered unemployment level in Latvia was 5.7% of economically active population in October, which is as much as a month prior, according to data from the State Employment Agency.

Doctors urge government to postpone budget approval; prepare for strike

Latvian Doctors Union, Latvian Young Doctors Association and Latvian Nurses Association urge the government to postpone budget approval and continue talks about allocation of additional funding for healthcare in 2020 and future years, associations report.