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Tuesday 19.03.2019 | Name days: Jāzeps

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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Latvian residents become more optimistic about government’s work

In one month’s time Latvian residents’ opinion of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government has improved, according to data from SKDS study.

Dutch authorities arrest Utrecht tram shooter

According to Dutch authorities, the man who opened fire in a tram in Utrecht, killing three and injuring five, has been arrested.

Parliament: Latvian universities should be among 500 best in the world

Latvia’s leading universities have a clear vision for the future. It is topical for continued development of the country’s education and science sector.

Latvian minister to request police investigation in public transport company

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has finished its analysis of the audit performed in municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme. Soon the ministry plans to ask law enforcement institutions to provide their opinion on whether or not there had been fictive employment or other violations committed by the company, as reported by TV3 news.

Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.

Air temperature in Latvia to stay positive this week; more precipitation expected

Weather will be dominated by cyclone activity this week. Wind speed will also increase in the country’s western parts in the first half of the week. At the end of the week, air temperature to become chilly at night, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. N-plant invites bids for repository construction contract

Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which was shut down a decade ago and is now being decommissioned, invited bids for the construction of a 100-million-euro near surface repository for low and intermediate level short-lived radioactive waste.

BNN summary of the week: when is Brexit? Estonia’s government worries; more problems with Rīgas satiksme

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Attempt; Decision; Investigation; Scandal; Legislation; Expectation.

Suspect in criminal case leaves post in Alkom-Trans

SIA Alkom-Trans chairman Aleksandrs Krjačeks, who is a suspect in a criminal case regarding SIA Rīgas satiksme’s procurements, has decided to step down, according to information from Lursoft.

Eurostat: Latvia had higher annual inflation than average in EU and Eurozone

In February 2019, Latvia’s inflation was higher than the average in European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat on Friday, 15 March.

Harmony and New Harmony to compete for seats in European Parliament

Association of parties Alternative Party, which received only 0.34% support from voters in the recent Saeima elections, has decided to start in upcoming European Parliament elections with a new name – New Harmony, as reported by Latvijas Radio.

ABLV Bank’s liquidators recover assets worth EUR 37.938 million in February

In February 2019, liquidators of ABLV Bank had successfully recovered assets worth EUR 37.938 million, which is 21% less than a month prior, according to the annual account published in Latvian Herald.

Polish Catholic church reveals mass child sex abuse by clergy

The administration of the Polish Catholic Church has stated it has since 1990 registered child sex abuse affecting 625 underage victims by 382 clergymen. Poland's Catholic Church authorities revealed the data on Thursday, March 14.

Insurer: children receive 11% more injuries during school breaks

During school breaks the frequency at which children receive injuries is 11% higher when compared to the year’s average, according to data from BTA Baltic Insurance Company.

Survey: one-fifth of Latvian residents do not protect their data on mobile phones

Although modern smartphones have several security options that help protect user data, results of a survey by Samsung Electronics Baltics show that 19% of Latvian residents do not use any of those data protection options.

Estonia's Ratas rejects Verhofstadt's opinion on coalition with anti-migrant party

Belgian member of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, has urged acting Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas not to build a government coalition with the anti-migrant Conservative People's Party of Estonia.

Opinion: Baltic residents have cooled down towards Russian-Ukrainian conflict

Ever since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula five years ago it seems a ‘cooling process’ has begun among residents of Baltic States in relation to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, said University of Latvia researcher Mārtiņš Kaprāns in an interview to LNT programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 15 March.

New Zealand shaken by tragic terror attacks in mosques

40 people have lost their lives in New Zealand, where terror attacks have been committed in two mosques in the city Christchurch today, according to the country's government. The tragic events have taken place on Friday, March 15.