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Friday 18.01.2019 | Name days: Antis, Antons

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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New Unity’s candidate to continue talks with partners on government declaration over weekends

New Unity’s prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš plans to continue working on the government declaration, cooperation agreement and fiscal discipline agreement over Saturday, 19 January, as confirmed by New Unity’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.

Head of Riga City Council’s committee reports results of non-existent vote; dismissal follows

As the chairperson of Riga City Council’s Social Affairs Committee, Olga Veidiņa from Harmony, submitted a written report to the mayor, detailing how all members of her committee had allegedly voted in favour of paying a bonus to Orphan Court chairman Aivars Krasnogolovs even though such a topic was never discussed by this committee, BNN was told by opposition deputy Marija Balcere from New Conservative Party.

1991 Barricades commemoration events in Latvia

One of the most notable chapters in Latvia’s newest history was written in January 1991 – the barricades period, when Latvian residents commemorate the victims and feel pride for the bravery of the nation in defending their country’s freedom.

MEP: Britain’s non-exit from EU is no longer possible

It is no longer possible for Britain to stay in the European Union. Even British politicians who have spoken against Brexit admit as much, said Latvian MEP Roberts Zīle in an interview to Rīta panorama.

Dismissal of Nils Ušakovs alone would not change a thing in Riga

«No change will come without dismissal of Riga City Council and its subsequent re-election. Activities that point towards the possibility of corruption did not appear solely during the term of the current team at Riga City Council. Its roots date a long way to the past. This means cleaning and general disinfection efforts should be very thorough. Dismissing Nils Ušakovs alone would not help change a thing. Ušakovs both maintains and serves the system,» said opposition deputy Jānis Ozols in a conversation with BNN.

Proposal to make ports state capital association faces no major objections in Latvia

No major objections have been voiced so far against transport minister candidate Tālis Linkaits’ proposal on reforming ports as state capital associations.

Latvia’s forming coalition promises to be more open to opposition

The forming coalition in Latvia may consider proposals from the opposition and even support the more constructive of them, said prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 17 January.

Air temperature in Latvia may drop as far as -21° C next week

After the windiest and snowiest week, as anticyclone activity increases, weather in Latvia will become more stable – it will become drier and considerably colder.

Lithuania’s ruling majority swings at media freedom, experts warn

All media, the so-called fourth authority of power, has been facing some international challenges, with the European Parliament set to vote next Monday on final text of Article 13, the proposed EU directive on copyright, which, if implemented, could censor internet users and internet platform hosts through artificial intelligence-employing filters.

Riga Active Seniors Alliance: seniors’ behaviour on the road should be discussed

Riga Active Seniors Alliance supports Latvian State Police informative safety campaign that addresses the behaviour of pedestrians on the road. This campaign invites seniors to pay attention to their own behaviour to ensure safe movement without putting at risk other traffic participants.

New healthcare service principle’s adoption in Latvia postponed until July

The rights to receive healthcare services as part of state compulsory healthcare regardless of their health insurance contributions will remain available for residents until 30 June 2019, Latvian Saeima has decided.

150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

Estonian state energy giant Eesti Energia, which mostly generates energy from fossile oil shale plants will reduce its operations at the Narva power plants, resulting in 150 job cuts.

Opinion: Russia will definitely interfere with European Parliament elections

According to Latvian member of the European Parliament Inese Vaidere, Russia will definitely attempt to interfere with upcoming European Parliament elections.

In no-deal Brexit, border control in Ireland would be obligatory

In an interview with the British news portal The Guardian, Michael Lux, a former head of customs legislation and procedures at the European commission, said the UK would have to impose customs checks and tariffs on the northern side of the border, despite claims to the contrary by Brexiters.

Opinion: Daugavpils City Council doesn’t want emergency elections; to agree on new mayor

Daugavpils City Council deputies Rihards Eigims and Andrejs Elksniņš are afraid of voters’ opinion in regards to emergency elections. Because of that, they will agree on the next mayoral candidate at the 17 January meeting, said Latgale party representative Jānis Lāčplēsis.

Scientists suggest sustainable diet to save the planet and prevent premature deaths

An international group of 37 scientists has developed a diet that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.

Latvian parties taking too long on compiling government cooperation documents

Although work on the new government’s cooperation documents has taken more time than initially expected, Latvian prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš still hopes for the government to be approved next week.

Ministry: more children end up in families in Latvia not through foster families or guardians

More and more children in Latvia end up in families not through adoption, but through foster families or guardians, says Welfare Minister’s office manager Linda Baļčūne.

Estonian population continues to increase, mostly due to immigration

Estonia has registered population growth for the third consecutive year as 4,690 more persons lived in the Baltic country on January 1, 2019 than a year before, official statistics show.

Sweden to nominate head of government, who could finally be confirmed

In the Swedish parliament, three parties have stated they would not vote against caretaking Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to have another attempt to form a center-left government after a four-month political crisis.

In 2018 Latvia experienced more rapid growth of car registrations than EU

Last year the number of newly registered cars in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union, according to the latest data from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Latvian government prepares legislation to protect rights of Latvian in Britain after Brexit

Latvian government has started working on a document that provides for the protection of rights of Latvian citizens working in Britain and vice versa after Brexit, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Karolis Sankovski appointed as chairman of RB Rail council

A new council chairman has been appointed in Baltic joint company RB Rail. Riia Sillave and Edvīns Bērziņš were picked as vice-chairmen, as the company reports.

airBaltic carried record number of passengers in 2018 – 4.1 million

Latvian airBaltic airline carried a total of 4,136,711 passengers to different destinations in 2018. This is 17% more when compared to 2017. The number of passengers carried in 2018 is airBaltic’s all-time highest, as BNN was told by the company.

KPV LV to decide on dismissing Kaimiņš as vice-chairman of party’s faction

KPV LV party’s Saeima faction plans to discuss the proposal of dismissing Artuss Kaimiņš from the post of the faction’s vice-chairman.