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Ceturtdiena 18.07.2019 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze
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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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Lithuanian Railway will not terminate contract with Sigmen

Lithuanian state railway company Lietuvos geležinkeliai will not terminate its contract with Latvian company Sigmen, which is one of the region’s largest Russian width standard rail suppliers even though Lithuanian media had reported last month that the company is controlled by an ex-KGB officer Yuri Simonenkov, who may or may not have ties with Russia’s political leaders.

Mediator to be attracted to resolve Latvijas Radio crisis

To resolve the ongoing crisis at Latvijas Radio, the board of the radio plans to attract a mediator, as confirmed by the representatives of the public media at a press-conference on Wednesday, 17 July.

June’s inflation in Latvia above that of EU and Eurozone

In June 2019 inflation in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

Latvian police investigate seven cases with possible illegalities with MPC

Latvia’s State Police have commenced investigations of seven criminal processes involving possible illegalities with electricity mandatory procurement component, as confirmed by State Police press-representative Ilze Jurēvica.

France to restore Notre Dame for 850 million euros

France's Parliament has passed a law to restore the damaged roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, after a fire brought down its spire in April. The works would cost 850 million euros and could end in a modernised design of the spire of the medieval building.

Prime Minister: non-taxable minimum is more important than minimal wages

Instead of raising minimal wages, it would be better to raise non-taxable minimum, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds on Wednesday, 17 July.

EU’s Cybersecurity Agency to be headed by Estonian

The body responsible for online security in the European Union, the Agency for Cybersecurity, has picked Estonian Juhan Lepassaar to become its executive director.

Vehicle registration rise observed in Latvia in first half-year of 2019

Compared to the same period of 2018, registration rate of new light-weight vehicles in Latvia has increased 4.6% in January-June period of 2019. Latvia is among 12 EU member states in which rise was registered in this period, according to data published by European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Energy production support in Latvia to be paid only from state budget

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has decided to support Economy Ministry’s proposal to cover state support costs for energy production solely from the state budget starting with 2021. This measure means these costs will no longer appear on residents’ and other energy consumers’ receipts for electricity.

Christine Lagarde steps down from managing IMF to head ECB

Christine Lagarde, the candidate for the post of the President of the European Central Bank has voiced plans to resign as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Von der Leyen’s post in German government to go to Merkel’s protege

Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel's likely successor, is to become defence minister after current defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, was voted EU Commission President.

Latvian prime minister expects resolution for Latvijas Radio situation

Culture Minister Nauris Puntulis should offer a solution for the funding problem currently present at Latvijas Radio, said Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

Latvian government approves funding for procurement of new electrical trains

Latvia’s government has approved state budget long-term commitment of EUR 255 888 753 to finance railway passenger transport company AS Pasažieru vilciens. This means PV might sign a contract with Škoda Vagonka soon, as confirmed by Transport Ministry.

Latvian Railway receives EC’s report on railway electrification

European Commission has submitted a positive report on Latvian Railway commenced railway network’s electrification in the initially planned volume, as reported by company’s representative Ella Pētermane.

Nausėda, visiting Poland, urged to get more personal than Grybauskaitė

Gitanas Nausėda, the new Lithuanian President, is in Poland on his first official visit abroad. Lithuanian political experts have commented to LRT, what should be the aim of the visit.

Latvian State Police request criminal prosecution of fake news portal owner

July 2019 marked the end of State Police investigation of a criminal process launched last year in relation to distribution of fake news. One Niks Endziņš was arrested as a result of the criminal process in 2018.

Moscow considering exchange of Ukrainian sailors before Ukraine election

Moscow has unveiled it’s taking part in discussion over a potential prisoner swap involving Ukrainian sailors that it arrested in 2019 last year. The development comes on the week of Ukrainian parliamentary elections.

Latvia to host EUROfusion General Assembly for the first time

The 26th EUROfusion General Assembly will be taking place in Riga this week 17th – 18th July. The heads of EUROfusion science project and participants from 24 countries will be taking part in this event.

Bribery accused LU vice-rector applied with major restrictions

Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has applied restrictions for bribery accused University of Latvia vice-rector Baiba Broka. She is prohibited from working in the university’s procurement commission, as well as making decisions associated with control and supervision.

EU: Violations of Iran nuclear deal can still be reversed

European Union’s foreign ministers have concluded in a meeting on relations with Iran that the uranium enrichment carried out by Tehran breaching the Iran nuclear deal this summer is not significant.

Welfare Ministry requests EUR 54 million for welfare priorities in Latvia

Next year’s welfare priorities in Latvia will require additional funding of EUR 54 million, says Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Von der Leyen resigns as German minister before EP vote on her heading EC

Shortly before the Tuesday’s vote in the European Parliament on the candidacy of Ursula von der Leyen, the German Defence Minister has announced her resignation from the German federal government.

Pork prices in Latvia increase 10.5% over the course of a month

In May 2019, pork prices in Latvia increased 10.5% when compared to April and were 33.1% higher when compared to May 2018, according to data compiled by Latvian Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

Latvia’s finance market supervisor applies one million euro fine to Rigensis Bank

Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission has decided to apply a fine of one million euros to Rigensis Bank AS for violating money laundering and terrorism financing prevention regulations, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvia’s Competition Council issues six warnings for possible cartel activity

In the first half-year of 2019, Latvia’s Competition Council organized six warnings to ten businesses and five private persons for possible involvement in cartels.

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