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Tuesday 11.12.2018 | Name days: Valdis, Voldemārs, Valdemārs
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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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Latvian president calls of KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems nomination

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis has decided to withdraw the nomination of KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems as prime minister candidate.

KPV LV faction pledges support to Aldis Gobzems

Saeima faction of KPV LV has pledged support to its prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems to lead the government formation talks.

Study: more should be done to make tax procedures easier

The four main indexes for business tax commitments have not changed much globally: commitment compliance time (237 hours); number of payments (23.8); total tax and duties rate (40.4%) and post-declaration index (59.6 out of 100), as concluded in the Paying Taxes 2019 study by PwC and World Bank Group.

Inflation in Latvia reaches 3% in 2018

November 2018, compared to November 2017, the average level of consumer prices rose by 3.0 %. Prices of both goods and services grew by 3.0 %. Compared to 2015, consumer prices were 6.8 % higher in November 2018. Prices of goods increased by 5.9 % and prices of services by 9.1 %.

Estonian hospital to make patients pay for uncancelled doctor appointments

In Estonia, Ida-Viru Central Hospital plans to introduce asking patients to pay for a scheduled specialist appointment, if the patient does to visit the doctor and has not notified the hospital in advance.

Politologist: two weeks in government formation is lost time

Two weeks spent in government formation is lost time, because budget development has not even started. However, the current situation may pave the way for a new prime minister, because several of the previously voiced red lines have been erased, says interior policy expert Ieva Bikava.

In pictures: Mass demonstration in Vilnus in solitarity with teachers' strike

A large protest has been held in Vilnius, with many Lithuanians gathering in solidarity of a teacher strike currently held by over thousand workers of schools and kindergartens across the Baltic country.

KPV LV prime minister candidate to present president with three scenarios

Prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems from KPV LV will present Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis with three possible scenarios for government formation this Monday, 10 December.

EU court: Britain can unilaterally stop its divorce from EU

The European Court of Justice has found in a ruling that the UK has the right to cancel its withdrawal from the European Union unilaterally, without the support of the other 27 EU members.

Weather in Latvia expected warm at weeks beginning; air temperature to drop again later on

Weather in Latvia will be cloudy and rich with precipitation this week. Air temperature may remain positive until the middle of the week, but colder masses of air will flow to the country shortly after that. More snow is also expected, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

150 countries convene in Morocco to endorse UN Migration Compact

The UN conference to endorse the UN Migration Compact, starting in Marrakech, Morocco on Monday, December 10, will be attended by politicians from 159 countries.

Politologist: Artis Pabriks would not be a good choice for prime minister

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis should nominate a neutral politician as the next prime minister candidate, someone who hasn’t insulted New Conservative Party and KPV LV yet, says politologist Juris Rozenvalds.

In Armenia election, landslide victory to Pashinyan's bloc, results show

In Armenian early parliamentary election, held on Sunday, December 11, the political bloc led by Armenia's acting prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, won, according to the Central Election Commission.

Week in Lithuania. President signs decrees on three ministers' dismissal

President Dalia Grybauskaite on Friday, December 7, signed decrees to accept the resignations of Jurgita Petrauskienė as education and science minister and Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson as culture minister and to dismiss Kęstutis Navickas from the post of environment minister.

BNN summary of the week: Plan B; Lithuania's fired ministers; Pasažieru vilciens' bothers

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Surprise; Victory; Growth; Commitment; Decision; Complaint; Government.

Snow and ice create problems for drivers in Latvia

In spite of several trips coating roads with anti-freeze and clearing them of snow on Friday, 7 December, driving conditions remained complicated in many parts of Latvia in the afternoon.

Share of fast loans extended three and more times increases in Latvia

Lending volumes in the non-banking sector in Latvia continue growing in the first half-year of 2018 – the total loan portfolio of lenders’ had grown 7.11%, reaching EUR 655.82 million, by the end of June.

NCP does not consider KPV LV offer as serious; says government formation impossible

Considering the term given by Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis to KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems, he simply has no way to form a sustainable government, says New Conservative Party’s leader Jānis Bordāns.

Aldis Gobzems withdraws his government offer extended to political parties

Latvian prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems from KPV LV has decided to withdraw his government offer extended to political parties. He plans to invite non-party professionals to the new Cabinet of Ministers. «If my proposed government composition is not approved, I will ask President Raimonds Vējonis to announce emergency elections,» said Aldis Gobzems.

Estonian private clinic is facing criminal investigation

Estonian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation against Medita Klinik, a leading competitor in public procurement tenders in Estonian health care. Estonian Northern District Prosecutor's Office has initiated the investigation in accordance with the Penal Code section concerning the transmission of false information, according to ETV investigative show Pealtnägija.

Meat consumption in Sweden continues to drop significantly

Meat consumption in Sweden is at its lowest level since 1990 and continues to decrease, data by the Swedish Board of Agriculture showed.

Medieval cemetery found in Old Riga in front of the Saeima

Results of archaeological digging performed at St Jacob’s Church in Riga in summer and autumn turned out rather surprising. This is because these results reminded researchers of a forgotten fact – that there had once been a large cemetery near the Jacob’s Cathedral in the Medieval Age. Remains of this cemetery are located basically in front of the Saeima’s front doors, in fact.

French authorities send 89 000 security workers before weekend protests

The French government has said it has ordered 89,000 members of the security forces to be deployed nationwide during anti-government protests on Saturday, December 8, in a reaction to violent riots in Paris and elsewhere in the past few weekends.

SRS dismantles criminal group that caused losses worth EUR 250,000 to state budget

Latvia’s State Revenue Service’s Tax and Customs Police has dismantled a criminal group that has caused damages worth EUR 250,000 to the state budget.

At UN climate conference, deep divisions obstacle to global deal on action

At the UN climate change conference in Poland, splits are deep between rich nations against poor ones as well as oil exporters against vulnerable island nations in the efforts to reach a common agreement on hard-to-achieve action to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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