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Tuesday 19.03.2019 | Name days: Jāzeps
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BNN summary of the week: Rimšēvičs comes back; Lithuania elects mayors; Rīgas satiksme keeps going

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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: Justice; Fight; Status; Question; Accomplishment.

JUSTICE: EU Court overturns Bank of Latvia governor’s suspension

Court of Justice of the European Union has overturned the ruling in accordance with which Bank of Latvia governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs was suspended from his post.

In its verdict the EU Court explained that even a temporary prohibition to perform duties can be considered a suspension.

As it is known, Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau send materials of the criminal case involving Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons to the prosecutor’s office for commencement of criminal prosecution in June 2018. Shortly after that the prosecutor’s office raised charges against Rimšēvičs for bribery. Martinsons was accused of supporting bribery.

Rimšēvičs had previously claimed at a press-conference that he is innocent and that he has no intention of stepping down from his post in the Bank of Latvia. He called the crimes incriminated to him as politically motivated defamation campaign. His duties are currently performed by vice-governor Zoja Razmusa.

KNAB detained Rimšēvičs a year ago.

Full article here

FIGHT: Lithuania holds mayoral and municipal council elections this Sunday

Ahead of mayoral and municipal Council elections this Sunday, political parties and election committees are making their last strides in luring yet undetermined voters on their side.

Always upbeat Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, LFGU, has said this week that his party will sweep not only the municipal Council elections, but also the forthcoming presidential and European Parliament elections, both to be held in May.

Over 13,000 local politicians are vying for 1,502 council seats in Lithuania’s 60 municipalities, and over 400 politicians want to be elected mayors. Due to shrinking population, Lithuanian voters will have to elect 22 fewer councillors this year, compared to the last election four years ago.

«I think we’ll have around 300 council seats. I think we’ll win in terms of votes as well. It’s more difficult to calculate when peaking about the number of mayors as it will depend on who will get into the runoff,» Karbauskis told journalists after casting his early vote in Kaunas on Wednesday, February 27.

Some 34,900 people, or 1.42 percent of all eligible voters, cast their ballots on Wednesday, February 27, the first day of early voting in Lithuania’s municipal elections, the Central Electoral Commission said on Thursday, February 27. The voter turnout was slightly up from 1.22 percent (30,900 voters) in 2015.

Thursday was the second and last day of early voting in the municipal and direct mayoral elections.

Full article here

STATUS: Rīgas satiksme’s temporary chief receives Riga mayor’s support and remains in office

Temporary chief of Rīgas satiksme Anrijs Matīss will remain at the help of this company even though earlier this week he allowed for the possibility of leaving the company if no clarity in regards to his proposed changes is achieved. He said as much after more than an hour-long meeting with Mayor of Riga and RS shareholder Nils Ušakovs.

Riga’s mayor claimed Matīss has his full support to continue his work in the company. The main subject of worries today is the company’s budget, which is exactly what shareholders plan to discuss tomorrow. According to him, there is no reason to believe Rīgas satiksme has stability problems.

Matīss was appointed the temporary chief of Rīgas satiksme on 13 December 2018, replacing the dismissed Leons Bemhens, who is a suspect in a criminal case investigated by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

After his approval, Matīss commenced an audit in the company.

The audit revealed that, for example, EUR 6 million was overpaid in a fuel procurement project with a firm whose owners hide behind offshore companies; the loan issued for procurement of trams was spent on wages; maintenance of the expensive e-talon system cost the company 40% of the money charged for tickets, Ir magazine reports.

Full article here

QUESTION: Ombudsman asks what ex-finance minister Reizniece-Ozola failed to understand

After the publication of a study about the influence of tax reform on Latvian residents, ombudsman Juris Jansons received many questions from certain members of society about the flaws with the tax reform uncovered by the study. The ombudsman was especially confused by the statement from ex-finance minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, who said criticisms of the tax reforms sounded unjustified even though she has yet to go through the study, the ombudsman’s office reports.

It is stressed that during the tax reform development process Saeima’s Legal Affairs Office had noted that «the submitted legislative draft, due to its complexity, could cause major problems for legislators to understand the content of regulations.»

Implementing the new tax reform, application of PIT and calculation of non-taxable minimum and its application order has become more complicated and less friendly for taxpayers. This situation potentially provides for the possibility of situations when taxpayers could end up debtors in spite of paying taxes, the ombudsman’s office explains.

Full article here

ACCOMPLISHMENT: Latvia has accomplished a lot in ensuring gender equality

Latvia is among six countries in the world with the highest index for gender equality on the labour market. This is shown as much in World Bank’s published study that analysed legislation on gender equality in 187 countries.

The study Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform includes an index on the most important developments for women’s careers, from the moment they start working to the point when they retire, as well as protection of rights in each of those phases. Data covers a decade-long period during which 187 countries were studied based on eight indexes, Latvian Finance Ministry explains.

A global look shows that reforms implemented in the past ten years have improved women’s economic inclusion. Nevertheless, a gap remains between men and women. Results of the study show that women, when compared to men, are generally provided with only three-quarters of all rights guaranteed by international law.

Latvia, together with Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Sweden, received the highest possible number of points. This means state regulations in areas surveyed provide men and women with equal opportunities. Ten years ago there wasn’t a single country capable of reaching this index, the ministry notes.

Full article here


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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.

Minister: EC should not be allowed to cut financing to countries with low court independence

From the perspective of the European Union’s legislation and democracy, European Commission should not be given rights to halt funding only because EC thinks the rule of law is insufficient in some country, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

EU's Tusk to call for long delay of Brexit

European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will invited to EU leaders «to be open to a long extension» of the Brexit deadline, if the UK needs to rethink its strategy and get consensus after it decided to ask for a delay.

Weather to remain rainy in Latvia; air temperature expected above 0° C

At the end of the week, a cyclone will approach Latvia from Scandinavia’s side, which will bring rain and wet snow to many parts of Latvia, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian Saeima votes to make mental healthcare more accessible

In the near future, it is planned to significantly improve accessibility of mental healthcare in Latvia. The goal is to provide residents with evidence-based, modern, quality mental healthcare. This is provided by the Plan to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for 2019-2020 approved announced at the State Secretaries meeting of Thursday, 14 March, as confirmed by Healthcare Ministry’s representative Anna Strapcāne.