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Monday 23.07.2018 | Name days: Magda, Magone, Mērija
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BNN summary of the week: problems with state financial accounts Baltics to promote healthy eating

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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: Business; Future; Decline; Truth and Growth.

Business: Latvia plans to borrow at least EUR 350 million from international markets this year

This year, Latvia will have to borrow at least EUR 350 million from international markets. This amount may also grow more, admits head of Latvia’s State Treasury Kaspars Abolins.

«The base scenario provides that we will have to attract EUR 1 billion from capital markets this year. Two-thirds of this amount has already been attracted, but EUR 350 million will have to be attracted before the end of the year. At the same time, I would like to say that this is the base scenario, because there are many variables that can still affect it. First of all, we can see that demand for State Treasury’s loans continues to increase – primarily from the side of municipalities,» says Abolins.

He says it will be necessary to attract additional resources to cover loans if demand continues to increase. «Secondly, we have always been active in the use of favourable market situations. If interest rates remain low, it may be possible for us to perform pre-financing of next year’s needs.»

Demand for loans increases in municipalities because the use of EU funds has become more active. Abolins mentions that March was a record month in this regard – ST and municipalities signed a total of 63 loan contracts worth nearly EUR 50 million.

Low interest rates remain on financial markets at the moment. In February, Latvia released ten and thirty-year euro bonds on international markets for a total amount of EUR 650 million.

Full article here

Decline: Meroni: Lembergs has caused losses for Latvia worth more than EUR 500 million

«Aivars Lembergs has caused loses worth more than EUR 500 million to Latvia’s entrepreneurship and especially Latvia in the past ten years,» Swiss lawyers Rudolph Meroni told TVNet in an interview.

In relation to allegations that he has used finances that have been placed under his supervision for the duration of the criminal process against Aivars Lembergs, Meroni called those allegations completely absurd and purposely reported by Lembergs and the media he controls.

Meroni denies the possibility that the price of Ventspils Nafta shares was artificially reduced. He told TVNet that the EUR 1.77 per share price was fair and acceptable for the buyer – Vitol Group – and the seller – Latvijas naftas tranzīts. However, shortly before the deal, the price jumped to nearly EUR 3. This happened because people associated with Lembergs learned of the deal and performed what’s called ‘inside trading’, Meroni says.

«This is illegal, a crime, in fact. Perhaps someone hacked computer systems. As far as I know, a criminal investigation has commenced about this whole situation.»

Full article here

Truth: SA points to flaws in state institutions’ accounting and use of funding

Concluding its audits for last year, Latvia’s State Audit views the quality of financial accounts as generally stable. The compliance of budget use for certain goals, on the other hand, is lagging – several million euros have been spent on inappropriately planned objectives.

BNN was informed by SA that the general consensus on state institutions’ accounts is that the 2016 situation on accounting matters was not different from the trends noted in previous years  – state institutions, for the most part, can properly manage their resources. Problems do pop up here and there – unlike 2015, when audits provided positive results for the first time in a long period, there have been four reports with negative sides.

SA mentions two problematic cases – Education and Science Ministry and VARAM failed to resolve problems that were previously noted by auditors. «Although problems can be resolved, the process of realizing recommendations is too slow. Defence Ministry has been given a piece of criticism for the inability of institutions under its authority to secure accounting that would provide clarity about its income and expenses. In addition, the internal control environment of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau is not ordered in a way that would allow a check of the institution’s finances,» SA continues.

Full article here

Growth: Baltic health ministries to cooperate in promoting healthy eating and lessen alcohol consumption

The leadership of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian health ministries decided to cooperate in drafting healthy eating and alcohol and tobacco consumption policies with the aim of reducing mortality from noncommunicable diseases in the region.

ERR reports that Estonian Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski commented after meeting with State Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Health Kārlis Ketners and Lithuanian Minister of Health Aurelijus Veryga on Tuesday, May 17: «We are far away from Nordic countries, whose social policy and practice to prevent illness are an example for all three Baltic countries. An important area of concern in our region is health-related inequality, or the strong connection of health indicators with gender, education and economic well-being».

Full article here

Future: Chinese tourism platform Alitrip to promote Latvia’s tourism and business opportunities

To ensure recognition on the Chinese market, as well as help develop multi-sided cooperation in tourism, Latvian Investments and Development Agency and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group’s tourism platform Alitrip have signed an agreement for cooperation.

The agreement signed on 16 May provides for publishing information about Latvia’s tourism and business opportunities on Alitrip platform to ensure better recognition, as well as variety of services for Chinese clients. For Latvian tourism operators, this platform will be a great opportunity for cooperation with China.

Full article here

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Week in Lithuania. Liberals ex-leader fails to recover confiscated cash

Eligijus Masiulis, a former Liberal Movement leader on trial in a major political corruption case, has failed to recover cash that was found and seized during searches of his home.

BNN summary of the week: open presidential election in Latvia and no more plastic bags for shoppers

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Change; Fight; Decline; Business; Progress.

SRS: cash register reform still stagnates, but has become much faster than it was last year

The cash registers reform continues stagnating. However, it has become much faster than it was a year ago, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Specialists to search for solutions to topical environmental problems in Ventspils

On Friday, 20 July, a meeting was held between Ventspils Commercial Port representatives and specialists from State Environment Service.

Children with functional disorders to receive services financed by EU funds

Child invalids will have access to social services intended to improve their social skills and mobility. More than EUR 4.2 million has been allocated for this goal from the European Social Fund, as confirmed by Latvia’s Central Financing and Contracting Agency.

Producer price level in industry up 4.3% in Latvia

Compared to June 2017, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.3 % in June 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 4.8 % and those of exported products by 3.7 %.

Total tax debts in Latvia in July – 1.212 billion euros

At the beginning of July total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding debts, halted debts and debts applied with repayment term extensions, accounted for EUR 1.212 billion, which is 0.8% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

Survey: every third Latvian resident has received illegal loan offers

Nearly every third resident in Latvia or 31% of respondents admit having received offers to use illegal loan services, as concluded in a survey performed by Latvian Alternative Financial Services Association and SKDS.

Libya opposed to EU's idea to establish migrant centres in North Africa

Libya is against the solution of the European Union to set up migrant centres in the North African country as a means to keep migrants from arriving in the bloc and Libya would not be convinced with financial support, its Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has noted.

Arrest warrant on Catalan ex-President cancelled by Spain

The Supreme Court of Spain cancelled a European arrest warrant for former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont, as Germany refused to extradite him to face accusations of rebellion for declaring the independence of Spain's region, Catalonia in 2017.

Latvian government plans to allow handing expired food to charity

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has prepared amendments to the Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food that provide permission to hand over certain types of food products to charity after the end of their expiry date.

Estonian industrial producer prices up 2.9% since June 2017

Estonian industrial producer price index has risen by 2.9% between June 2017 and the first summer month this year, resulting in an increase of export prices as well, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Putin urges NATO to quit «irresponsibly» developing ties with Ukraine, Georgia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin cautioned NATO against developing deeper relations with Ukraine and Georgia, evaluating such a policy was irresponsible and would have consequences for the military alliance.

Latvian parliament not in a hurry to support president Vejonis for a second term

Political parties represented in the Saeima are not eager to support President Raimonds Vējonis for his remainder for a second term.

Weather in Latvia will remain warm and even hot at times

Weather in Latvia in the nearest couple of days will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that the sky will be partially covered by clouds; thunderstorms are also expected, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Hungary sued in EU Court for criminalising help to illegal immigrants

The European Union's executive body has stated that a law in Hungary that criminalises support for illegal immigrants is in breach with EU law and Hungary has now been referred to the European Court of Justice for the alleged non-compliance.

Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

Political messages can be channeled in various ways and the ruling now Lithuanian party, LFGU has chosen a very delicate way of the communications – through a TV series featuring the beauty and the ambiance of Naisiai, a picturesque settlement in Siauliai district.

Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.

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