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Wednesday 24.04.2019 | Name days: Nameda, Visvaldis, Ritvaldis
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BNN summary of the week: NATO to increase and ABLV Bank loses its license

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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: Future; Deal; Fight; Decline; Decision; Opinion.

FUTURE: Latvia will not escape talks on increasing defence spending

It is necessary to develop Latvia’s defensive capabilities. Because of that, Latvia cannot escape talks on increasing defence spending to more than 2% of GDP, said Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, who is participating in the NATO summit in Brussels.

Bergmanis believes any country can increase defence spending as long as there is political commitment and support. There are many defence ministers in the world who want an increase of funding for their industry.

Information previously provided by Defence Ministry shows that Latvia’s defence budget was 1.4% of GDP in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017. This year, Latvia’s defence budget reached 2% of the country’s GDP. This year’s defence budget is EUR 576.34 million, which is EUR 126.8 million more than last year.

«Many countries will continue developing armed forces, because 2% of GDP is the minimum required for defence. We cannot escape talks on increasing defence spending,» said the minister.

Facing modern threats, Latvia continues developing its armed forces and improving host country capabilities, which will require funding. «We will also require additional funding to station NATO’s Multinational Division North headquarters at Ādaži base. We have several projects planned. However, we have to keep in mind that costs tend to change,» said the minister.

Full article here

DEAL: Competition Council permits merging of two energy wholesale traders and producers

On 4 July, Latvia’s Competition Council decided to permit the merging deal as a result of which Enefit Green AS will gain decisive influence over Nelka Energia AS by purchasing 100% of the company’s shares. Permission was given because the merge is not expected to have a major impact on competition on the market, the council explains.

Both participants of the merge are registered in Estonia. Both indirectly own and manage biomass co-generation power plants in Latvia. Those plants produce heating and electrical energy: Enefit Green AS owns SIA Enefit Power in Valka and Heat Valka. Nelja Energia AS owns subsidiary SIA Technological Solutions in Brocēni. Enefit Green AS is owned by Eesti Energia AS, which is an Estonian state-owned international energy company.

Full article here

FIGHT: ECB revokes Latvian ABLV Bank’s credit institution license

European Central Bank has decided to revoke Latvian ABLV Bank’s license, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

ECB made its decision following a proposal from FCMC. The proposal was submitted to the bank after ABLV shareholders decided to commence the bank’s self-liquidation process and FCMC’s 12 June decision to permit it.

FCMC Chairman Pēters Putniņš: ‘This was a planned and logical step for the bank’s self-liquidation process. It will not affect the process in any way. FCMC continues monitoring the self-liquidation process in accordance with the previously approved plan.’

On 12 June, FCMC submitted to ECB a request to revoke ABLV Bank’s license. ECB’s decision came to force 11 July.

The liquidator published an announcement about the commencement of the bank’s self-liquidation process in Latvian Herald on 18 June. It was the beginning for a three-month term for creditors to submit their requests. Creditors continue submitting requests. Revoking of the bank’s license will not affect this process.

FCMC’s controlled voluntary bank liquidation process is a solution that provides the widest possible involvement from FCMC and provision of control, the commission adds.

ABLV Bank’s self-liquidation process is managed by – Arvīds Kostomārovs, Andris Kovaļčuks, Elvy Weber and Eva Berlaus.

Full article here

DECLINE: Skycop says airline strikes picking up in strength; losses reach six billion

Compared to the previous year, 2018 so far has not been successful. Fuel prices have increase, as have employee strikes, which continue creating serious problems for European airlines, as BNN was informed by representatives of flight compensation request processing company Skycop.

The company reports that European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, or Eurocontrol, CEO Eamonn Brennan has mentioned that the large number of airline employee strikes has significantly impacted flight arrival accuracy. Data compiled for April details specific strikes that had a major impact on the accuracy of airline operations.

«Although 2017 was a challenging year for the aviation industry, it is still considered a successful year, because the industry had experienced the most rapid passenger turnover increase since 2004. Based on data from ACI Europe, the number of travellers has grown 8.5% over the course of the year. The biggest problems, on the other hand were caused by shortage of pilots and consolidation of European airlines. Continued increase of air passenger numbers is expected this year, as well. However, topical problems with airline operations and continuing strikes make it hard to believe airlines will be able to meet the growing demand,» Skycop representatives say.

The largest number of strikes took place in February. In majority of those cases, participants were from Italian and French airlines. Skycop notes that Air France has suffered fourteen strikes so far. As a result, share value has dropped 9.7% and the company has suffered losses worth more than EUR 300 million. In Italy, there have been three strikes in total this year. All of them had a major impact on airline operations, causing many flights to be delayed or cancelled.

Full article here

DECISION: Canada decides to extend rule over NATO multi-national battalion in Ādaži for four years

Canada has decided to extend its rule over NATO’s multi-national battalion stationed in Latvia for four more years, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Pierre James Trudeau confirmed at a press-conference.

The previous end term was 2019. Not it has been extended for four more years, said Trudeau after his meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

Latvia’s prime minister admits that this decision from Canada is a great gift for Latvia on its centenary.

The objective behind expanded presence of NATO forces is improving existing deterrence and security capabilities, demonstrating the alliance’s solidarity and determination to protect member states from any forms of aggression. A festive welcoming ceremony was held at Ādaži base on 19 June 2017.

Full article here

OPINION: it is impossible for Latvian parties to attract large funding honestly

«If we look at political parties’ ability to attract funding from large companies, for example, conclusions are rather sad – there is no way for parties in Latvia to attract funding in an honest way,» Providus think tank researcher Iveta Kažoka said in an interview to BNN.

She continues: «It is a fundamental problem for Latvian parties. During discussions at Lampa festival this matter was mentioned by nearly all participating parties off-camera that this is a matter in need of resolving».

In 2015, Estonian parties divided amongst themselves EUR 5,400,000. Lithuanian parties divided EUR 5,800,000. Latvian parties, on the other hand, received EUR 612,398 from the state budget, which is approximately nine times less than the amount provided to neighbours.

Kažoka explained that parties either have to make do with scraps, which is not nearly enough to work successfully, or resort to scheming. «Often they are caught red-handed with their schemes – law enforcement institutions take notice of their activities.» She also adds that most of the time, however, institutions like Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau fail to notice political parties’ schemes.

There has to be funding to sustain a party

«To reach out to voters, there has to be some funding – to pay for visual materials, to sustain the party and communicate with 500 members and organize their work. Without resources, this cannot be done efficiently,» says the researcher.

She says the situation in Latvia is absolutely dramatic in the context of the Baltic region. «Funding for parties is ten times lower. At the same time, Latvian society is not less demanding. We expect parties to be less corrupted and be able to provide quality political programmes and experienced people in different sectors for ten times lower funding.»

«Parties do become corrupted. Because of that, it is necessary to think of a way to reduce pressure on Latvian parties and prevent them from looking for funding in corrupted sources. But the only solution that works in the European Union and the world is providing sufficient funding to parties from the state budget,» says Kažoka.

Full article here


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Medicines for people with mental disorders to become more accessible in Latvia

To improve accessibility of medicines for people suffering from psychological and behavioural disorders, Latvia’s government decided to expand the list of diagnoses eligible for state-compensated medicines on Tuesday, 23 April.

Belarus halts exports of low quality oil products to Baltics, other neighbours

Belarusian Oil Company has announced the temporary suspension of light oil products to the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine explaining that low-quality oil products have been supplied by Russia to Belarusian refineries.

Producer prices in Latvia: increase of 4.1% in March

Compared to March 2018, average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.1 % in March 2019. The level of prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 6.5 % and that of exported products – by 1.9 %.

Saeima deputy confident on the need to dismiss National Mass Media Council

Considering recent development, the National Electronic Mass Media Council should be dismissed, says head of Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Artuss Kaimiņš.

Estonian President continues to meet with ministerial candidates

As outgoing Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' is likely to form his second government with the controversial Conservative People's Party of Estonia and the national-conservative Pro Patria, Estonian President is meeting with his ministerial candidates.

Teachers demand from Latvia’s ministry specific amendments to regulations

Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees sent a letter to Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry on Tuesday, 23 April. In it, representatives demand strict guarantees and specific amendments to regulations to ensure increase of wages for teachers in accordance with the schedule.

Catalonia – key issue in Spanish pre-election debate

As Spain nears its early general election on Sunday, April 28, its outgoing Prime Minister faced criticism from his opponents over Catalonia's secession crisis.

Latvian minister orders closure of Deglava Bridge in Riga

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens has ordered State Police to close down Deglava Bridge starting with Thursday, 25 April.

Sri Lanka death toll rises. Authorities had been warned about possible attacks

In Sri Lanka, the number of people killed in attacks on churches and hotels has reached 290 people, while it has been revealed that national authorities had been warned about possible attacks.

Road construction company Binders to attract workers from Ukraine and Belarus

Latvian road construction company SIA Binders experiences a shortage of workers. Because of that, the company plans to attract guest workers from Ukraine and Belarys, says Bindars board chairman Aigars Sēja.

Ukrainian presidential election won by Zelensky on hopes of change

The run-off of the Ukrainian presidential election has been won by comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who has promised change and better relations with Russia.

Air temperature to reach +23° C in Latvia this week

Dry weather will remain in most of Latvia this week. The sun will shine often and there will be slow eastern and south-eastern wind. However, strong wind is expected to come on Wednesday, 24 April, and precipitation is expected at the end of the week.

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.