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Monday 16.07.2018 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere
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BNN summary of the week: Saeima’s «abstention specialists»; MPC payments; Latvia’s retirement pension system

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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: Change; Opinion; Promise; Court; Fight; Proposal.

CHANGE: Fixed MPC portion to drop 27.8% for electricity users in July

From 1 July onward, the fixed portion of mandatory procurement component will decline by 27.8% for all electricity users, as reported by Public Utilities Commission.

On Wednesday, the council approved AS Enerģijas publiskais tirgotājs’ submitted power components that compensate public traders’ costs for CHP plants’ power output – fixed portion of MPC. Compared to existing output components, the newly approved ones are 27.8% lower in all power output and consumption level. It is expected that the new MPC will come to force 1 July. Power component is one part of the total MPC payment.

The average value of the approved MPC and power component has been reduced from 25.79 EUR/MWh to 22.68 EUR/MWh. Following the decision by the regulator, MPC will reduce for all consumer groups.

On 24 April, the Cabinet of Ministers supported reducing the average value of MPC and power component. The regulator approved changes to MPC and power component calculation methodic on 14 May. Changes include reducing the general fixed portion of MPC payment for all end users.

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OPINION: Deputy names ‘abstention specialists’ in Latvian Saeima’s votes

«I was elected to make decisions, not abstain from them. Abstention in votes automatically counts as ‘against’ in the Saeima. I believe this practice needs to be changed. You’re either in favour or against. Businessmen, for example, have no way to abstain from making decisions. The Saeima, on the other hand, has a lot of ‘abstention specialists’,» said Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš in an interview to RīgaTV 24, commenting on the initiative on manabalss.lv to liquidate the abstention right for parliament members in votes.

Kaimiņš named the main «abstention specialists»: »: Romāns Naudiņš, Aleksandrs Kiršteins, Kārlis Krēsliņš, Valters Dambe, Einārs Cilinskis, Inese Laizāne, Andris Siliņš, Kārlis Seržants, and Silvija Šimfa.

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PROMISE: Minister promises to fill gap caused by cancellation of extended normal work time for doctors

A clear strategy is in the works to fit the ruling of the Constitutional Court and organize human resources to fill the formed gap, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša after meeting with hospital representatives.

The Constitutional Court declared rules that dictate remuneration for working extended normal work time as non-compliant with the country’s Constitution. The court concluded that remuneration for working extended hours is still below the amount stated in the Labour Law. The regulation of the law will be declared void starting with 1 January 2019.

Jevgēņijs Kalējs, chairman of Latvian Hospitals Association, said after meeting with the minister that the country’s commitment to paying overtime to medical personnel will not resolve the problem of human resource availability, because the Labour Law states that the amount of overtime is not allowed to exceed 40 hours a week. «This basically limits the patient flow and [service] accessibility,» explains Kalējs.

According to him, after constitutional court’s ruling hospitals will have to limit the volume of offered services or have doctors migrate from one job to another to compensate the lack of medical personnel. «We cannot possibly prepare more specialists in Latvia. We can only move the ones we have from one office to another,» said Kalējs.

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COURT: parent companies could be held accountable for subsidiaries’ competition violations

The Supreme Court of Latvia has made a ruling, in accordance with which Latvia’s competition rights are established in a way that permits authorities to punish parent companies for violations of competition rights committed by their subsidiaries.

This means Competition Council will be authorized to apply penalties to parent companies in situations when competition violations are committed by their subsidiaries, as BNN was told by the council.

In 2014, the Competition Council found that multiple Moller Group companies had been systematically coordinating their procurements over a course of at least five years. CC concluded that those subsidiaries did not perform their activities independently of their parent companies. Because of that, CC applied accountability for several parent companies – Moller Auto Baltic AS, Harald A.Moller AS and Heinz Wilke Autohandel Gmbh. CC applied accountability for parent companies after finding their 100% participation in their subsidiaries.

After reviewing an application from parent companies regarding unjustified application of responsibility, the administrative regional court satisfied it, and CC had the measure cancelled partially. It is mentioned in the ruling that the Competition Law does not permit application of responsibility to a company that is not responsible for violating the law, CC explains.

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FIGHT: Latvian Saeima’s committee does not support Kušners’ re-approval in Bank of Latvia council

On Thursday, 17 May, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided not to recommend Edvards Kušners for a repeated term in the council of the Bank of Latvia.

Three deputies voiced support for Kušners – Imants Parādnieks, Inguna Sudraba and Juris Viļums. Three deputies – Jānis Vucāns, Aleksandrs Kiršteins and Edgars Putra – voted against. Deputy Renārs Putniņš abstained in the vote, and Igors Pimenovs was absent.

After interviewing Kušners last week, deputies decided to take a pause in this matter. Most of the questions Kušners was asked were associated with events of 2005. At the time, he was deputy chief of the Legal Affairs Office of the Bank of Land. He was later appointed as an authorized person to Delaware-registered company Carew Estates LLC.

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PROPOSAL: Latvian State Audit says it is necessary to sort out retirement pension system

Latvia should finally sort its sensitive retirement pension system, said State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

She says that the State Audit performs inspections in ministries and central institutions every year. Unfortunately, problematic matters continue surfacing time and time again. One such problem mentioned by Krūmiņa was the retirement pension – this matter has been stuck in legislative limbo for more than ten years.

The State Auditor notes that the age threshold for retirement pension has remained the same for a very long time, unlike the regular age pension. Retirement pension is also significantly larger, which is unfair.

Krūmiņa also says that more than 70% of retirement pension recipients continue working, thereby circumventing the law that prohibits employed people from receiving retirement pension.

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Rezekne Council deputies will not be penalized for releasing newspaper in Russian language

The court has lifted fines previously applied by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on nine deputies of Rezekne City Council for releasing a newspaper produced by the council in Russian language in addition to Latvian.

July 16 in pictures

BNN offers you to take a look at topical, interesting and simply beautiful pictures of the day.

Volume of imported petrol in Latvia down 2% in five months

The volume of motor fuel imported to Latvia in the first five months has declined 2% in comparison with the same period of 2017. The volume of diesel fuel has declined 14.9%.

Corruption watchdog ends case about Bi-2 concert in Riga

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau ended in May the case regarding possible misuse of administrative resources on pre-election promotion by Riga City Council in the form of a free Bi-2 concert in Lucavsala.

Thailand's rescued boys honour casualty of 17-day rescue operation

In Thailand, a 12 boys trapped in a cave have been rescued in a rescue operation that lasted for 17 days and ended with one casualty, a rescue diver.

Latvian political party Progresīvie to nominate women as candidate list leaders

Latvia political party Progresīvie has revealed its list of candidates for 13th Saeima elections. Five women have been stated as leaders of candidate lists.

Estonia earns 150 000 euros from military evaders annually

Estonian compulsory military service is evaded by about 1 000 young men each year, who have to pay fines that annually exceed the combined total of 150 000 euros.

Chairman: FCMC’s competence should end with termination of licenses if banks are liquidated

In the event of liquidation or insolvency, Finance and Capital Market Commission’s competence should end with revoking affected banks’ license and without the need to appoint an administrator, says FCMC chairman Pēters Putniņš.

Minister: Latvia may terminate MPC system in the next three years

In the next three years or so Latvia could completely terminate the mandatory procurement component system, said Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

In pictures: French victory in World Cup celebrated by tens of thousands in Paris

After the football World Cup was won by the French national team on Sunday, an enormous crowd of people gathered in central Paris to celebrate.

Another case of African swine fever infection recorded for domestic pigs in Latvia

African swine fever infection was recorded for domestic pigs in Tērvete on Monday, 16 July. 16 pigs were liquidated because of the infection, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service.

MEP Artis Pabriks becomes political party «Attīstībai/Par!» prime minister candidate

Latvian political party «Attīstībai/Par!» has picked Daniels Pavļuts, Juris Pūce, Ilze Viņķele, Artis Pabriks and Mārtiņš Bondars as its regional candidate list leaders. Artis Pabriks will also be the party’s prime minister candidate.

Russian-U.S. presidents meet in Helsinki

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting on Monday in Helsinki.

Heat of up to +30° C expected in Latvia this week

Weather in Latvia will be warm and even hot at times this week, as air temperature reaches up to +30° C. At night, air temperature is not expected to go below +20° C. Many regions will likely experience thunderstorms closer to the middle of the week, Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre reports.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania's Tripartite Council fails to reach agreement

Lithuania's Tripartite Council on Tuesday, July 10, failed to reach agreement on raising the minimum wage. Employers are inclined to back the government's proposal to raise the minimum pay to 420 euros. Meanwhile, trade unions want it increased to 450 euros.

BNN summary of the week: NATO to increase and ABLV Bank loses its license

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Deal; Fight; Decline; Decision; Opinion.

SEB Bank to unite life insurance companies working in Baltic States

SEB Bank will unite life insurance companies working in Baltic States, BNN was told by SEB Bank’s representative Agnese Strazda.

Saeima deputy Askolds Kļaviņš becomes suspect in criminal case

Saeima deputy from the Union of Greens and Farmers Askolds Kļaviņš has been made a suspect in the criminal case regarding abuse of official power.

Minister: E-health system has stabilized, but improvements are still needed

Functionality of the E-health portal has stabilized. Disconnection errors have ceased. Nevertheless, we have to continue improving the system further, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša said in an interview to Rīta panorama programme of LTV.

Six to eight Finance and Capital Market Commission officials may work at ABLV Bank

Six to eight FCMC trusties may work at the liquidated ABLV Bank, says Finance and Capital Market Commission chairman Pēters Putniņš.

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers receives expanded draft on deposit system

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers an expanded legislative draft regarding amendments to the Packaging Law and Environment Protection Law for their review in the State Chancellery, as confirmed by the ministry’s representatives.

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.

Russia extends food product embargo until end of next year

On Thursday, 12 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to extend the embargo on food product imports from countries of the European Union and other countries until the end of next year.

Heat in Latvia to remain for longer; thunderstorms and heavy rain expected, as well

Next week in Latvia will be appropriately hot for summer, as air temperature is expected to reach +30° C at times. Nevertheless, most of Latvia will experience rain and thunderstorms, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

US President announces «tremendous amount of progress» in defence spending matter

On Thursday, 12 July, US President Donald Trump announced having achieved a great deal of progress in the NATO member states’ defence spending matter during the summit.