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Monday 22.04.2019 | Name days: Armanda, Armands
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BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s negative fiscal space; Russia vs. Lithuania; Diena’s scandal

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThis week, Latvia discussed its future fiscal space for 2020. It is expected to be -11.9 million euros. Meanwhile, public transport company Rīgas satiksme remains in the centre of a scandal, while Harmony actively stagnates any decision-making processes in this. While some are unable to decide others are actively making grandiose plans – one of the biggest announcements this week was the proposal to reduce the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 35.

Lithuania and Russia have taken to each other’s throats over the trial of 67 former Soviet officials for violence committed in Vilnius in 1991. This has caused Moscow to commence an investigation against judges responsible for the ruling.

Meanwhile, Estonia has become concerned over a possible threat to the country’s liberal democracy, which has surfaced in the central power since Conservative People’s Party of Estonia has come to force.

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Finances; Resignation; Change; Fight; Environment; Justice; Meeting.

FINANCES: Finance Ministry upgrades Latvia’s GDP outlook to 3.2% for 2019

Latvia’s Finance Ministry has upgraded the country’s GDP growth outlook for 2019 by 0.2 percentage points – to 3.2%, according to the ministry’s Latvia’s Stability Programme 2019-2020 project.

The ministry explains that Latvia’s Stability Programme is one of the elements of the annual state budget legislative draft and medium-term budget’s preparation cycle. With that, it covers macro-economic index outlooks for 2019, 2020 and 2022, fiscal outlooks and general government budget balance goals.

Considering the rapid growth of Latvia’s economy I 2018, GDP growth outlook for 2019 has been upgraded by 0.2 percentage points – to 3.2%. GDP growth outlook for 2020 is expected to be 3%.

According to estimates from Finance Ministry, the cyclic development of Latvia’s national economy reached its peak in 2018. In the coming years economic growth could be below last year’s, when GDP growth reached 4.8%.

According to the ministry’s estimates, the deficit of the government’s 2019 budget will be 0.5% of GDP. This is the same level previously estimated for the 2019 budget in initial stages of the budget’s development process. Medium-term budget’s general government budget deficit is not allowed to exceed 0.4% of GDP in 2020, 0.2% of GDP in 2021 and 0.3% of GDP in 2022.

Full article here

RESIGNATION: Earthquake at national media council? Prominent council members steps down

Gunta Līdaka, a member of Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council responsible for supervision over commercial television industry, has announced her decision to step down, as reported by LTV.

Līdaka said that considering the current situation surrounding the National Electronic Mass Media Council, she finds it impossible to continue working there.

«There is a situation that requires a solution. Unfortunately, to look for a solution, the public media and council are being used as a political tool to settle scores,» said Līdaka.

BNN had previously reported that the National Electronic Mass Media Council has decided to approve Einārs Giels as the new chairman of LTV and Eva Juhņēvičs as an LTV board member. Neither has any experience working in the media sector.

Full article here

CHANGE: Latvian ministry proposes reducing number of municipal deputies from 1,614 to 686

Following the administrative territory reform, it is planned to reduce the number of municipal deputies from 1,614 to 686, said Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce at a press-conference on Wednesday, 10 April.

Presenting the administrative territorial reform’s project, Pūce said the goal behind the reduction of the number of municipal deputies is ensuring fair representation in accordance with the number of residents to help better organize work of municipal committee and separate executive power from decision-making power.

Authors of the reform offer maintaining the same number of municipal deputies in Riga (60) and Jurmala (15).

Municipalities in which the number of residents is under 30,000 would have 14 deputies, whereas the number of deputies in municipalities in which populations range from 30,001 to 60,000 is proposed to be set at 19.

Full article here

FIGHT: Russia irked by Lithuania’s January 13 massacre ruling, seeks retaliation

Russia’s grudge against four Lithuanian judges who issued the ruling in the high-profile January 13 case has translated this week in a criminal investigation by Russia’s Investigative Committee (RIC) on the grounds of what Russia deems is unlawful criminal prosecution.

At the cusp are Aiva Survilienė, Virginija Pakalnytė-Tamošiūnaitė and Artūras Šumskas, the judges of Vilnius Regional Court, and also Ainora Kornelija Macevičienė, the retired chair of the judicial panel, all of whom handed down the sentence in late March.

Foreign minister: Russia is vengeful

Following the RIC decision, Lithuania’s Foreign minister Linas Linkevičius called it «some sort of revenge.»«It’s difficult to evaluate it in some way as this is a deplorable situation…Russia should realize that although many years have passed, justice must prevail and that there’s no statute of limitations for such cases,» he said.

He suggests that the judges implicated in the case refrain from making trips to Russia or Russia-friendly countries as they, according to him, can expect provocations or various other actions there.

Full article here

ENVIRONMENT: Ilves warns against Estonia turning back on liberal democracy

Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in an apparent criticism of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE), has expressed concern over the effects statements by the party could have, despite not mentioning EKRE by name.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that in a social media post Ilves wrote on Wednesday, April 10: «Intolerance, hate, mockery, threats, calling Estonian citizens of other ethnicities a Kremlin-induced cancer, saying people with different skin colors should be ‘shown the door,’ calling people with different sexual orientations ‘invalids’ who should be stripped of their right to vote».

Full article here

JUSTICE: Diena newspaper associated with infamous Latvian oligarchs sued for possible defamation

If a media proudly reports unverified information with a goal to mislead society, sooner or later it will have to answer for it in court. This is what happened to Diena media – a criminal process has been launched against it for possibly intentional defamation of Swiss lawyer Rudolf Meroni, as confirmed by Financial and Economic Crime Investigation Prosecutor’s Office.

The criminal process was launched for both defamation in Diena newspaper and social media Facebook and Twitter.

The criminal process was launched in accordance with Part 2 of Section 157 of the Criminal Law: for defamation in mass media, which is punishable with temporary deprivation of liberty or community service, or a fine.

Diena’s offered apology, smaller than its self- advertisement panel, is not enough

As previously reported, after nearly six months Diena finally withdrew the false news that was reported by one of its journalists – Guntars Gūte – had reported without fact-checking about Swiss lawyer Rudolf Meroni, branding him with a status in some criminal process.

Diena confirmed in its official statement that its journalist had made a mistake and his article contained false information, specifically regarding Latvian State Police Organized Crime Enforcement Office making Meroni a suspect in a criminal process.

Full article here

MEETING: BATL says Belarus is very important for Latvia’s transit sector

The transit sector in Latvia has adapted to the market conjuncture in recent years. One of the biggest future potentials is associated with Belarus, which is an important region for railway freight. On top of that, Belarus is a major logistics hub on the transit way to China, said board member of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics Ivars Landmanis during a meeting with a delegation from Belarus.

Representatives of BATL met this week with high-ranking delegation from Belarus. Members of the delegation included Belarusian state oil company Belneftekhim head Andrei Ribakov, Transport and Communications Minister Aleksey Avramenko, Deputy Economy Minister Yuri Chebotar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus in Latvia Vasily Markovich and other high-ranking officials.

BATL stresses that this visit was very important, because servicing freight from Belarus is very important for Latvia’s transit industry. Additionally, Belarus is an important hub for international freight headed from Asia through Latvia to Scandinavian countries. Cooperation with the joint Chinese-Belarusian industrial park Great Stone, which is part of the One Belt – One Way concept, is equally important for future growth.

«The visit of high-ranking delegation from Belarus to companies part of BATL and Ventspils Freeport demonstrates favourable future cooperation perspectives that will provide considerable contribution for our country’s economy,» says Landmanis.

Full article here


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Forevers: 615 tonnes of grilled meat was consumed in Latvia last year

615 tonnes of meat products for grilling was sold in Latvia in 2018, according to sales data from meat processing company Forevers.

Every day hens in Latvia produce an egg for every resident

The number of laying hens in Latvia, when compared to 2017, had increased 19.2% in 2018, reaching 3 million, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. Compared to the previous year, the total number of domestic birds has increased 9.3%, reaching 5.4 million, which is the largest index since 1992.

73% of residents believe they benefit from Latvia’s membership in EU

Approximately 73% of residents believe Latvia benefits from membership in the European Union. Interviewed residents mainly outline job opportunities, economic growth and security, according to the latest data compiled by Eurobarometer.

General government budget deficit in Latvia reached EUR 295.4 million last year

In 2018 general government budget deficit accounted for EUR 295.4 million or 1 % of the Gross Domestic Product and general government consolidated gross debt amounted to EUR 10.6 billion or 35.9 % of the GDP.

Egils Levits optimistic about his chances becoming Latvia’s president

Presidential candidate and European Court of Justice Judge Egils Levits is optimistic about his chances of becoming Latvia’s next president.

Estonia’s government to be formed by standing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas

On Thursday, 17 April, Estonia’s parliament entrusted formation of the country’s government to Centre Party’s chairman and standing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

At least 29 die as German tourist bus runs off road in Portugal

At least 29 people were killed and 27 were injured when a German tourist bus ran off the road on Madeira Island in Portugal, as reported by BBC.

EY: businessmen show very positive outlook towards global economy

The latest Ernst&Young EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer reveals a generally optimistic outlook businessmen have around the world – 93% of interviewed company CEOs believe the economic situation in the world is steadily improving. The same opinion was voiced by 73% of interviewed CEOs last year.

Orkla Latvija signs contract for construction of Laima manufacturing plant in Ādaži

On Wednesday, 17 April, Orkla Latvia signed a contract worth EUR 8.9 million with construction company Merks on the construction of a Laima manufacturing plant in Ādaži, BNN was told by Orkla Latvija representative Lineta Mikša.

As police arrive, Peru’s ex-president commits suicide

Ex-president of Peru Alan García committed suicide on Wednesday, 17 April, when police arrived to arrest him for corruption.

Estonia’s president to meet with Putin; the two will discuss Baltic security

On Thursday, 18 April, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will meet with Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Europe’s borders to be reinforced – a specialist corps to be formed by 2027

On Wednesday, 17 April, the European Parliament approved a new law to strengthen Europe’s border and coast guard, as reported by EP representative in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Latvian residents engage in marriages more often than before

Over the past three years the number of registered marriages has risen slightly. In 2018, 13.4 thousand marriages were registered, which is 200 marriages more than in 2017 when the increase recorded over the year constituted 148 marriages.

Ventspils City Council fever. Symptoms, treatment and preventive measures

Ventspils City Council fever. Symptoms, treatment and preventive measures

Turnover of Fazer Latvija reached EUR 25.36 million in 2018

The turnover of Fazer Latvija reached EUR 25.36 million in 2018. The company has also increased its bread market share to 20.9%, as reported by the company.

Saeima lawyers: media council failed to comply with law when composing LTV board

When organizing LTV board selection process, Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council failed to comply with requirements of the law, as concluded by Saeima’s Legal Affairs Office, stressing that dismissal of council members requires serious and legally backed reasons, LTV programme Panorāma reported on Tuesday, 16 April.

President Macron wants to restore Notre Dame Cathedral in five years

France’s President Emmanuel Macron says Notre Dame Cathedral will become ‘even more beautiful’ after renovation, and wants restoration work to be finished in five years, BBC reports.

Riga City Council asked to explain why they think Deglava Bridge is safe to use

Riga City Council has to immediately provide detailed explanations to the State Construction Control Bureau why Deglava Brige is still open for public use. The city council is also asked to provide justified reasons for limiting the mass of vehicles. This request was submitted by Latvia’s Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro.

Estonia’s president entrusts government’s formation to Ratas

Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid decided on Tuesday, 16 April, to entrust formation of the country’s new government to Centre Party representative Jüri Ratas, as reported by public media ERR.

Egils Levits could secure at least 55 votes in presidential elections

If Saeima deputies vote as the have promised, European Union Court of Justice Judge Egils Levits could secure at least 55 votes in presidential elections.

Whistle-blowers to receive protection across all of Europe

From now on EU legislation will offer protection to people reporting information regarding illegalities and general criminal activities, as decided by European Parliament on Tuesday, 16 April.

Municipality in Estonia wants a nuclear reactor

Viru-Nigula municipality in Estonia is interested in becoming the home for the nuclear reactor Frmi Energia is planning to build in the country, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

OECD: Latvia’s labour market policy has a positive effect on the unemployed

The measures employed by Latvia’s labour market policy have positive influence on opportunities of the unemployed. However, there is also more need for support of people at risk of social exclusion, as concluded in the study performed by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development «Connecting People with Jobs: Latvia».

Latvia's Prime Minister: government’s action plan may be clarified in time due to shortage of funds

Because of the shortage of funds, the government plan may be clarified after some time, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of the National Council for Trilateral Cooperation on Tuesday, 16 April.

Supreme Court proposes attorney system to improve situation with cassation complaints

The Senate is interested in quality cassation complaints. This is why it may be prudent to consider adopting a Supreme Court Attorneys System, says the Senate’s Civil Cases Department chairman Aigars Strupišs.