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Wednesday 19.06.2019 | Name days: Nils, Viktors

BNN summary of the week: Latvian government’s plan; minister vs. mayor; politologist in the parliament?

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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: Government; Conflict; Announcement; Proposal; Support; Opinion; Fight.

GOVERNMENT: Latvia’s forming government’s priorities include minimal wages and schools

Among the priorities of Latvia’s forming government is the administrative territorial reform, strengthening of the national economy, reformation in education and healthcare, «uncompromised rule of law», state security, cooperation with diaspora and demography, according to information LETA.

Ideas for the government declaration will be discussed among partners. Politicians of New Unity have stressed that among the initiatives there are also those that could require considerable financing, which is something the budget does not have. Because of this, some of the plans may be put on hold.

The initial declaration has a total of 15 sections with multiple sub-points with general goals.

For example, the strengthening of the national economy stressed in the plan, promising responsible fiscal policy and reviewing budget costs, reducing administrative burden for the state and municipal institutions. In the tax field it is promised to establish a transparent tax policy, including the continued transition of the tax burden from labour taxes to indirect taxes, increasing minimal wages and pushing non-taxable minimum closer to minimal wage, as well as simplifying application of the labour tax.

Full article here

CONFLICT: Ministry to clarify legislative draft on dismissal of Riga City Council

Considering the resolution received from the Prime Minister on the need to clarify Riga City Council dismissal draft, Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry will soon organize a meeting to discuss the legislative draft, as reported by the ministry’s representative Santa Vaļuma.

The ministry has commenced work on clarifying and expanding the relevant legislative draft after receiving proposals contained in different reports.

As previously reported, Environment Protection Minister Kaspars Gerhards has submitted a legislative draft to the government to achieve Riga City Council’s dismissal.

It was also previously reported about lawyers’ conclusions that there are no violations that would warrant the dismissal of Riga City Council. At the same time, environment minister’s rights to single-handedly dismiss Riga mayor are also mentioned in this context.

The ministry plans to organize an inter-institutional meeting next week to discuss the matter with representatives from Finance Ministry, Justice Ministry, Association of Local Governments of Latvia, Association of Large Cities of Latvia, Central Election Commission, Cross-sectoral Coordination Centre, State Chancellery and State Audit.

After the meeting the ministry will analyse all opinions and proposals, as well as expand the legislative draft.

Full article here

ANNOUNCEMENT: Latvian politologist Ivars Ījabs may start in EP election from Attīstībai/Par list

Politologist and associate professor of the University of Latvia Ivars Ījabs could take part in this spring’s European Parliament elections from the list of candidates of Attīstībai/Par political party, as reported by LNT.

LNT has information that AP currently considers Ījabs’ possible candidacy from the aforementioned political party in upcoming EP elections. Informal talks have taken place on this topic. The party aims to make its decision next week.

The politologist has told LNT that he has had talks with AP. At the same time, he stressed that different parties had talked to him prior to other elections. He said it is too soon to predict the outcome of informal talks with AP.

Full article here

PROPOSAL: NEPLP precedents prove the need for mass media regulation

Precedents associated with the National Electronic Mass Media Council prove the need for immediate approval of Public Electronic Mass Media Finances and Management Law, as noted by the head of Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Artuss Kaimiņš during a meeting Wednesday, 9 January.

Kaimiņš stressed that under the current media management model the functions of NEPLP often double and overlay, creating a situation in which the council as a capital shareholder and simultaneously the regulator of the industry. NEPLP is applied with too much responsibility, which needs to be divided more fairly. It is also necessary to clearly establish supervisory institutions and their authority.

The meeting of the committee was dedicated to the function of mass media and matters that were outlined at the end of 2018 by NEPLP’s decision to voice distrust to LTV board members Ivars Belte and Sergejs Ņesterovs. The council informed Saeima deputies that new LTV board members will be appointed before the end of March 2019.

Full article here

SUPPORT: Latvian Saeima supports decision project on MPC system’s cancellation

On Thursday, 10 January, Latvia’s Saeima supported the decision project regarding the cancellation of the mandatory procurement component system. In it, deputies invite Economy Ministry to immediately develop legislative acts for the cancellation of the MCP system by the end of March to reduce electricity costs for all Latvian consumers, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

The Saeima also invites Economy Ministry to comply with principles of rule of law and prevent the possibility of similar payments being instituted with a different name.

Full article here

OPINION: no amount of speculation will make electrification project cost-effective

«For people working in the industry it is hard to spot even the slightest benefits of the electrification project and we believe there is no logic to back this mega project’s future development. Especially considering existing excessive project costs and the costs created by the need for locomotive replacement and that increased costs will make cargo freight in Riga’s direction all the more expensive. No amount of speculations regarding electricity and diesel fuel fluctuations will make this project cost-effective,» says AS Baltic Express board chairman Māris Bremze.

He comments: «Most Latvian residents have heard about the old government’s, Transport Ministry’s and Latvian Railway management’s actively lobbied railroad electrification project. The considerable EUR 441 million costs, 320 km of electrified railway between Rezekne, Daugavpils and Šķirotava station in Riga, the supposed increase of competitiveness of Latvia’s transit corridor in Riga port’s direction when compared to Lithuania’s Klaipeda port and new jobs in construction sector in Latgale – these are but some of the promises associated with this project. But what will this mega project truly mean for the country? What will be the real benefits after the project’s implementation for railway freight carriers – the main cargo carriers to Latvian Railway, which is only an infrastructure company?»

The answer is simple – cargo freight using the railway to Riga port will simply become more expensive. Moreover – traditional diesel-powered train freight in Latvian Railway network will become more expensive for all routes.

Full article here

FIGHT: Olainfarm board member appeals her dismissal in court

rina Maligina, daughter to late businessman Valerijs Maligins, has appealed her dismissal from the post of pharmaceutical production company Olainfarm’s largest shareholder SIA Olmafarm’s board, as mentioned in the announcement submitted to Nasdaq Riga by Olainfarm.

«At the beginning of this year there had been an illegal attempt to dismiss me – Irina Maligina – from the board of Olainfarm’s largest shareholder – Olmafarm. This illegal act has been appealed in the Enterprises Register and law enforcement institutions have begun an investigation,» the statement mentions.

It is also mentioned that the changes made to the composition of the board contradict Olmafarm statutes, which clearly state that changes to the board can only be made with votes from three-thirds of members of the board. «Such a vote was never carried out. With that, the exacted changes are in contradiction to statutes,» Maligina says, adding that before 2 January, when changes were added to the Enterprise Register, Olmafarm’s sole shareholder was Maligins.

«We can clearly see here yet another attempt to use dirty tricks to influence the work of Latvia’s pharmaceutical company Olainfarm. There were hostile takeover attempts in the past. It is thanks to the team’s professional work that those attempts were successfully thwarted and the company was able to improve its financial indexes, continuing Maligin’s intended development vision for Olainfarm. We can consider the latest one as yet another attempt to illegally influence Olainfarm,» the statement mentions.

Full article here

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Nordea bank searched in Denmark over money laundering allegations

The Danish offices of the Scandinavian Nordea Bank have been searched by police as a probe in alleged money laundering is being conducted, Bloomberg reports.

Fire Service: Violations in new Ventspils music school prevented

In the newly-built Ventspils Musical High School and concert hall Latvija, which had problems with fire safety, the Latvian State and Fire Rescue Service has found in a repeated inspection that the violations have been fixed.

UN: 2.2 billion people globally still lack safe drinking water

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation has found in study that 1 in 3 people or 2.2 billion people around the world lack safely-managed drinking water, while 673 million people practice open defecation.

Key owner of pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm changes board member over distrust

In Olmafarm, the largest owner of the Latvian pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm, changes in the management board have taken place over no-confidence, according to a decision of the majority of the co-heirs of Olmafarm seen by LETA news agency.

Lithuanian experts: No way of stopping coming nuclear power plant of Belarus

Options that could stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Belarus have been exhausted, experts in neighbouring Lithuania have said to its public media.

Latvia pushing for joint stance of Baltic-Nordic MPs on security policy

Ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, it is key for the legislators of the eight Baltic-Nordic states to have a common position on security policy, said MP Inese Ikstena, head of the Latvian delegation.

Latvian coalition undertakes to rise teacher salaries over reform

Recognising that education reforms in Latvia have been initiated, the ruling coalition has pledged to pass the decision to allocate funds to rising teacher salaries, as indicated by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Kariņš stated that the coalition parties have established that «reforms envisaged by Minister of Education Ilga Šupilinska have been initiated».

Latvian Enterprise Register: Companies not revealing true beneficiaries to be wound up

Once changes to the Latvian Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing are signed by State President, the Enterprise Register will be tasked with winding up legal entities not revealing their true beneficiaries.

Latvian PM: If Estonia breaks deal on alcohol excise, we’re forced to respond

If Estonia has broken a deal with Latvia on alcohol excise tax, then Latvia is left to no choice, but to respond with a corresponding cut in excise, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

Never too late to marry – elderly marriages jump in Latvia

Over the year 2018 in Latvia, the total number of marriages fell by 0.7 %, the number of marriages concluded by elderly population grew 1.7 times, data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia showed.

Eesti Energia suggests introducing customs tax to cheap Russian power

Estonian state energy firm Eesti Energia has proposed introducing a customs tax to electricity imported by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from Russia.

Social care centre in Latvia blamed for severe human rights violations

Latvian Ombudsman’s Office has found severe human rights violations in the social care centre Ezerkrasti and accused the institution of not complying with recommendations to it. Ezerkrasti is a branch of the state social care centre Riga, located outside the Latvian capital.

Unmarried couples’ law to be proposed in Latvia

In the Latvian Saeima, this week, a draft Law on Unmarried couples would be proposed by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par!.

Glass fibre maker Valmieras stikla šķiedra files for legal protection

Latvia-based glass fibre maker AS Valmieras stikla šķiedra has on Monday, June 17, announced filing for the start of legal protection proceedings aimed at ensuring sustainable continuation of group level operations.

Summer solstice week to be warm-to-hot in Latvia

As Latvia readies for the traditional summer solstice and Līgo festivities in the weekend, meteorologists expect the beginning of the week to be warm and sunny, whereas in the second half of the week, temperatures could rise and rain could set in.

Trees worth two hundred thousand euros disappear in Latvian border works

Developing the Latvia-Russia border, in eastern Latvia, a protected natural territory has been destroyed and timber worth over two hundred thousand euros has disappeared, reported Nekā Personīga programme of TV3 channel.

Latvian MPs request Supreme Court to evaluate Prosecutor General Kalnmeiers

Latvian legislators have asked the Latvian Supreme Court to evaluate consistency of the work of Prosecutor Ēriks Kalnmeiers with his post over inactivity in money laundering prevention and other shortcomings.

Gynaecologists in Germany fined advertising abortions

A court in Berlin has found two gynaecologists guilty of advertising how they carry out abortions in their clinic, fining them two thousand euros each. A pair of anti-abortion campaigners had reported the gynaecologists' website ad to German prosecutors.

Week in Lithuania: MP Gražulis in hot water, heat-related water supply disruptions in Kaunas

Last week, Lithuania marked the Day of Mourning and Hope, outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite delivered her last annual address, president-elect Gitanas Nausėda spoke out against taxing owners of old polluting car, but MP Petras Gražulis suspected of bribery.

BNN summary of the week: Waiting for new Culture Minister; Misleading by Supreme Court chair; bank watchdog overhaul

In the past week in Latvia, changes were announced in the Financial and Capital Market Commission, which will have new a management and duties. A substitute has been proposed for Dace Melbārde as the Latvian Culture Minister after her election to the European Parliament. The conservatives have picked Nauris Puntulis, an opera singer and current Riga City councillor, for the post. The candidate gave an interview to BNN on his priorities in the post.

IN PICTURES: Victims of Communist genocide remembered in Latvia

At the Freedom Monument in Latvia on Friday, June 14, there was held a ceremony to honour the victims of the Communist genocide against the people of Latvia. The mass arrests of innocent people were committed on the night from June 13 to 14.

Moscow sees U.S. decision of another thousand troops to Poland as sensitive

The Russian government stated the Russian army was closely tracking U.S. plans to send an additional thousand of its troops Poland as a deputy minister criticised the move as probably «aggressive».

Europol: Risks of Russian money laundering still exist in Baltics

In the Baltic states, there still exist risks for the laundering of money from Russia, said official from European police agency Europol, Pedro Felicio, who works on anti-money laundering measures in the body. He added that the problem is amplified by «zero cooperation from the side of Russia».

Data: 47.3% Latvian restaurants had tax debt over last six months

47.3% of Latvian restaurants and cafes had a tax debt exceeding 150 euros in the past six months, yet the total taxes paid by the sector have surged by 19.87% on year, data by business database Lursoft showed.

Latvian parliament in no rush to discuss Jewish restitution payment of EUR 40 mln

The Latvian Saeima has postponed the discussion of a draft law to compensate the Latvian Jewish community in the amount of 40 million euros for property confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.