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Wednesday 17.10.2018 | Name days: Karīna, Gaits
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BNN summary of the week: Rubesa’s announces resignation; Latvia gets new gas tariffs

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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: Announcement; Investigation; Fight; Hope; Future.

ANNOUNCEMENT: CEO on Rail Baltica project: «Everything happening with the project is delayed»

Over the course of Rail Baltica project, its management shared no common goal, the project lacks transparency, and Transport Ministry has not provided sufficient staff to answer questions regarding the project’s progress – these are some of the reasons Baiba Rubesa, CEO of RB Rail, mentioned during the press-conference Thursday, 27 September, to justify her decision to resign.

As she continued listing the catalysts that caused her to submit her letter of resignation, Rubesa told journalists that the project lacks proper management model: «Everything that happens in the project is and will be delayed.»

She mentioned that even though progress has been made with coordination and approval of decisions over the course of the project, there are still questions that remain unanswered.

She also says that the next funding stage remains unclear – it is unknown how things will turn out after 2020 because the situation will likely suffer from Brexit next year. Rubesa says that the matter with Latvia’s budget is also unclear.

She stresses that countries participating in the project have failed to reach an agreement in regards to the project’s main goal – every country continues working to suit its own interests. This is an obstacle for decision-making processes, especially in regards to finances. In addition, the project lacks transparency.

Full article here

INVESTIGATION: CPCB requests commencement of criminal prosecution of UGF member

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has sent materials of a criminal case to the Prosecutor General’s Office for the commencement of criminal prosecution against Union of Greens and Farmers member Askolds Kļaviņš, according to information published by the bureau.

Kļaviņš is accused of abuse of official power, document forging and use of forged documents.

Without mentioning the name, CPCB notes that a Saeima deputy received a mandate of a member of the Saeima 16 June 2016. That same deputy declared his place of residence in Liepaja on 1 November 2018.

The report on commencement of criminal prosecution mentions that information regarding a Saeima deputy’s transport cost compensation amounts was reported by public media on 21 February 2018. On 2 May, CPCB commenced a criminal process against this person.

On 13 September 2018, nearly a month prior to 13th Saeima election, this deputy stepped down.

Full article here

FIGHT: ABLV Bank’s creditors submit claims worth more than EUR 2 billion

Nearly 3,300 creditors have responded to the invitation from ABLV Bank’s liquidators to submit their claims, submitting claims for more than EUR 2 billion, as confirmed by the bank.

The Credit Institutions Law does not detail any deadline for submission of claims by creditors who were not paid back their money prior to 18 September. This means they can continue submitting claims. Only creditors in this category are allowed to apply for this claim repayment order, as the law requires it, the bank notes.

«The liquidation committee is happy for this result. In spite of the relatively short period of time reserved for creditors’ claims, nearly a maximum amount has been received. This was accomplished as a result of efficient organization of work. The next step is no less challenging, because we will have to commence careful and responsible evaluation of all claims from creditors,» says ABLV Bank’s liquidator Arvīds Kostomārovs.

ABLV Bank says that after approval of methodology for creditor evaluation, the bank will require no less than three months to check the claims’ validity and then make a list of creditors. With that, the first payments to depositors who still had balance above state guaranteed remuneration amount at the time of announcement of the bank’s liquidation process could begin in January 2019. Payments will commence with private persons, micro-enterprises, as well as small and medium-sized companies.

Admittance and satisfaction of creditors’ claims will be performed in accordance under strict supervision from Finance and Capital Market Commission. EY (previously Ernst & Young) has been called in to assist with the liquidation process. The international audit company has developed methodology for money laundering prevention and compliance with sanctions, as well as creditor checks and cost supervision. This methodology project is currently being coordinated with Finance and Capital Market Commission, the bank adds.

Full article here

HOPE: Lithuania makes another attempt to stem emigration, ease youth‘s employment

Amid exodus of youth to more developed Western European countries able to provide a better livelihood, the Lithuanian government scrambles to find ways to keep the population, and especially so its young people, in the homeland.

Considering adverse effects on the national economy, social welfare system, as well as the country’s national and social development caused by a complicated demographic situation, the Lithuanian Parliament this week has endorsed the Strategy for the Demographic, Migration, and Integration Policy for 2018–2030.

The strategy spans 17 targets and consists of 116 provisions. It ought to be adopted by 1 December, 2018.

It is one of many strategies aiming to stem emigration and boost youth employment in the country.

To remind, in early 2018, the Lithuanian MPs passed legislation enabling young families to acquire affordable housing in the Lithuanian provinces and the draft document of this week sets out a series of measures to integrate successfully adolescents into the job market.

For example, it envisions employment incentives, such as subsidised employment, support for acquisition of professional skills, public works and job rotation programmes.

Importantly, young workers, who apply for their first job, would be exempted from social security payments, which now account for nearly third of a wage in Lithuania, according the draft.

In the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), 77 MPs voted for it, 24 abstained and 3 were against.

Full article here

FUTURE: New natural gas tariffs approved in Latvia; those who use more gas will pay less

The Public Utilities Commission has approved AS Gaso’s submitted natural gas transmission system’s tariff project, which provides for the introduction of a fixed fee for connection to permitted load regardless of the consumed gas volume.

It is planned that the new tariffs, which will come into force 1 January 2019, will motivate end consumers to use their connection more efficiently. At the same time, new tariffs are meant to secure the company with the option to perform the necessary investments in the gas transmission network.

Major gas consumers to benefit the most

According to estimates from AS Gaso, the price of gas transmission will decline 11% to 52% for most consumers. The price will decline for those who consume more gas.

The total price will, however, increase for ‘zero’ clients – those who are supplied with gas but do not consume it.

Gas bills of households that consume gas to prepare food will grow from 0 to EUR 1.77, tariff authors say.

What fees consumers should watch out for?

Until now gas consumers were differentiated based on their annual consumption without taking into account connection output and efficiency. From now on, differentiation of consumers will also depend on permitted output and the efficiency of connection’s use. «The goal of the transmission operator will be ensuring safe and uninterrupted gas supply, and the new tariff structure will help achieve this goal,» says AS Gaso chairperson Ilze Pētersone-Godmane.

Full article here


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Opinion: Attīstībai/Par! party would very much like to work with NCP

Attīstībai/Par! would very much like to work with New Conservative Party in the new government in Latvia given the opportunity, as journalists were told by AP co-chairman Daniels Pavļuts.

Number of cars registered in Latvia increases more quickly than average in Europe

In the first nine months of 2018, Latvia experienced a more rapid increase with the number of newly-registered light vehicles than the average in the European Union, according to the latest information from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Seven Latvian companies listed among TOP 50 Baltic businesses

Among the 50 largest businesses in Baltics, seven hailed from Latvia in 2017. This is three businesses fewer than there were the previous year, as BNN was informed by representatives of Coface with reference to their list of the TOP 50 businesses in Baltic States.

1.7% less alcoholic beverages was produced in Latvia in first eight months of 2018

In the first eight months of 2018, 34.2 million litres of alcoholic beverages, except for beer, was produced in Latvia. 1.7% less alcoholic beverages was produced in Latvia when compared to the same period of 2017, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

Baltic states do slightly worse in Global Competitiveness Report

In the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 released by the World Economic Forum, Lithuania and Estonia have dropped by two positions, while all Baltic states remain among the top 45 most competitive economies in the world.

Latvian corruption prevention bureau undergoes reorganization; several experienced officials retire

Reorganization has been performed at Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. As a result of this reorganization, seven of the bureau’s officials have decided to resign. Six of them have decided to retire.

Russia starts trial against director Serebrennikov after long house arrest

In Moscow, the court proceedings against Russian theatre and cinema director Kirill Serebrennikov has begun on Wednesday, which is over a year after he was put under house arrest in a controversial embezzlement case.

Latvian Saeima wants to further enhance Anti-Money Laundering Service’s authority

On Tuesday, 16 October, members of Saeima’s Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee supported in the first reading amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.

Canada enforces legalisation of marijuana, expects economic benefits

Canada is legalising marijuana for recreational use on Wednesday and economists forecast that the new manufacturing sector would bring many new jobs, investment and tax income.

Additional funding of EUR 232 million to be allocated for EU projects in 2018

Additional funding of EUR 232 million will be allocated for different European Union policy instruments and other kinds of foreign financial assistance projects before the end of 2018, as decided by Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday, 16 October.

EU expects something creative from London for Brexit summit to deliver

The remaining European Union member states will expect in Brexit-focused summit that the UK would bring a creative solution to the issue of Irish border that has halted the talks.

Government formation process in Latvia remains clouded by unanswered questions

Political parties in the process of forming a new government in Latvia still have not reached an agreement on the future coalition and the person to take post as prime minister.

Lithuania and Ukraine to co-operate in Fintech

The central banks of Lithuania and Ukraine have committed to working together to promote the development of financial innovations and have signed a Co-operation Agreement in the Area of Innovation Development.

Tragic gas poisoning in family home investigated in Estonia

In Tallinn, the death of two children from gas poisoning is under investigation. The tragic accident in a semi-detached house in the Estonian capital has taken place on Saturday, October 13.

Progressive party proposes forming a government in Latvia with no oligarchs

Political party Progressive offers parties elected to the Saeima to put an end to oligarchs’ rule over Latvia’s politics and form a government that would help end the state capture tradition in the country.

Latvian president announces law on publication of KGB files

On Tuesday, 16 October, Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis announced the law on publication of Latvian KGB files, as confirmed by the entry in Latvian Herald.

Pupils in Ukraine learn to hide in case of bombardment

In the Donbas war, over 10,000 people have been killed since 2014, therefore war drills and bomb shelters have become part of daily life for hundreds of schools near the frontline.

NCP’s proposed government model receives the first rejection

The government model proposed by the New Conservative Party has received its first rejection. Additionally, there are other parties that believe it is necessary to agree on tasks before picking posts.

Orthodox Church of Russia breaks away from Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Orthodox Church of Russia has announced cutting contacts with the leading body of the Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, after its decision to allow the Ukrainian church to become independent from Moscow. The decision has not been recognised by Moscow.

Latvian president announces amendments allowing for open election of state president

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis has announced amendments to the country’s constitution that allow for open election of the state president, as noted in the official statement published in Latvian Herald.

UGF includes active ministers in its group for government formation talks

The Union of Greens and Farmers has delegated Latvia’s Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs to its group for government formation talks, as confirmed by the party’s board chairman Armands Krauze.

Latvian government supports 2019 budget project

On Monday, 15 October, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers supported Finance Ministry’s prepared 2019 budget plan project. State budget revenue in 2019 is planned at EUR 9.178 billion, which is EUR 217 million more when compared to 2018, whereas state budget expenditures are planned at EUR 9.205 billion, which is EUR 96 million more when compared to 2018.

EC Vice-President: growth of Latvia’s economy is delayed by banking sector’s problems

Development of Latvia’s economy is delayed by problems in the country’s banking and transit sectors, says European Commission’s Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis.

Danske Bank's rating lowered over Estonia branch scandal

American ratings agency Moody's has lowered its long-term ratings for Denmark's larges lender, Danske Bank, embroiled in a scandal of possible money laundering in Estonia.

Residents’ debts before non-finance companies remain the highest in Latvia

The debts of Latvian residents before non-finance companies have doubled over the course of the past half-year, reaching 305,000 unpaid bills, according to data from the Credit Information Bureau.

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