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Wednesday 15.08.2018 | Name days: Dzelde, Zenta, Zelda
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BNN summary of the week: Skele doesn’t want to be a loser, USA to transport gas to Lithuania

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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; Decline; Truth; Business and Growth.

CHANGE: Government and social partners agree on introduction of differentiated PIT

At a meeting of the National Council for Trilateral Cooperation, government representatives and social partners agreed on the introduction of differentiated personal income tax.

The agreement provides that PIT rates will be differentiated based on income forms: 20% for annual income under EUR 20,000, 23% for annual income from EUR 20,001 to EUR 55,000. One section government partners was not agreed upon at the meeting – the tax rate for large wage recipients. Finance Ministry offers transforming solidarity tax by applying solidarity tax calculation principle for PIT. With that, PIT rate for large wage recipients could be 33.5%. Employers opposed this principle, saying that this amount is too high.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Lithuania reaches gas delivery deal with U.S. firm

Lithuania’s gas trading company Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas has this week unveiled that it has sealed a contract to purchase liquified natural from the U.S.

Reuters news agency reports that the deal has been reached with a unit of Cheniere Energy and is part Lithuania’s endeavour to diversify its gas suppliers and reduce its dependence on Russian Gazprom.

Full article here

DECLINE: SRS cannot explain why unequal approach appears in application of fines

Employees of the State Revenue Service do not follow the institution’s guidelines, do not document criteria assessments in accordance with requirements of Latvian Code of Administrative Violations and generally apply fines based on their views, creating an unequal approach, BNN was told by the State Audit.

In its report, SA evaluated the practice of applying fines in the State Revenue Service. Throughout 2014-2016, SRS applied 52,000 fines for a total amount of EUR 12 million. It was concluded in the report that application of fines is inconsistent, deadlines are often missed, the calculation of fines is sometimes impossible to follow and only 53% of all applied fines have been collected over the years.

SRS and Finance Ministry should evaluate the reasons for violations and whether or not application of fines helps reduce the number of violations, SA emphasized in its report.

«The point of administrative punishments, including fines, is to motivate society to follow laws and prevent future violations. SRS can apply 105 different fines. In practice, however, 80% of fines are applied for non-cooperation with tax administration, accounting and declaration submission violations or failure to submit declaration in time,» notes SA.

Full article here

TRUTH: Oligarchs in Latvia have been building up influence by distorting media for years

The conversations tapped in Ridzene Hotel reveal that Latvian infamous oligarchs have been building up their influence over the years by subjugating and distorting media, Ir magazine writes.

«You know what’s s**t? We never resolved… What I said before – we need to agree on social media. We did sort out television, at least. Radio was the only remaining part,» Aivars Lembergs told Ainars Slesers after 10th Saeima elections. In those elections, Slesers’ and Andris Skele’s union Par labu Latviju gained eight seats. «We lost in the short term because there are opponents. What will they do once television and radio are united and private media are in our pocket? They won’t have any resources. We can play this well,» said Slesers.

«Every day they rinse brains,» Lembergs summarized the situation with social media after 10th Saeima elections. Slesers offered forming a union after presidential elections. «Latvian radio and television have ready-made team to cover the entire field. All we need is optimizing activities, relocating to new premises but under a single management,» he said.

Ir reports that such a political concept with involvement of different institutions and experts was developed and would have been realized if not for the sudden decision by Valdis Dombrovskis’ government to put an end to it.

Full article here

GROWTH: Estonia – Right to protection of family life also to same-sex couples

Estonian Supreme Court has established in a decision that same-sex couples also have the right to protection of family life, when the court detailed Estonian court jurisdiction in disputes over residence permits involving foreign nationals.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that in the decision of Tuesday, June 27, the Estonian Supreme Court found that the law does not forbid issuing a residence permit for the duration of an ongoing court dispute for cohabiting with a spouse, also in cases, when a couple has entered in same-sex marriage outside of Estonia.

Full article here

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How successful are businesses owned by Saeima deputies? UGF members at the top

Currently politicians in Latvia who own shares in businesses and are also true beneficiaries in capital associations are in the minority. Information compiled by Lursoft shows that 35 Saeima deputies and members of the Cabinet of Ministers own shares in businesses.

Investigation: police arrest man who rammed car into a crowd of people in London

Police in London have arrested a man suspected of ramming barriers outside the parliament building and injuring multiple people in the process.

Number of visitors serviced at Latvian accommodation establishments up 11.3%

A total 772.3 thousand visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments in Q2 2018, which is 11.3 % more than in Q2 2017.

Ministry drops plans to allow doctor assistants rights to write referrals

Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry has dropped the proposal supported by multiple doctor organizations to allow doctor assistants write referrals, according to the project of rules for the organization of healthcare services approved at the state secretaries meeting.

Latvia to test its National Armed Forces’ state defence capabilities

The largest military drills in Latvia’s history – Namejs 2018 – will be taking place in the country from 20 August to 2 September. The goal of this military exercise is to test and improve the country’s National Armed Forces’ readiness to defend the country on their own and as part of a collective defence system, Defence Ministry says.

Insolvency administrator recovered EUR 320,500 from Trasta komercbanka in July

The administrator of the liquidated Trasta komercbanka has recovered EUR 320,501 in July 2018, which is much more than the amount recovered a month prior, when EUR 5,054 was recovered, according to information published by Latvian Herald.

Latvian parties promise to shorten length of judicial proceedings

Political parties that plan to participate in upcoming Saeima elections promise significantly reducing the length of judicial proceedings. They also promise to cancel the opportunity to appeal court verdicts in certain criminal cases, as well as perform a general modernization of the judicial system, according to LETA’s compilation of parties’ programmes.

Wooden promenade collapsed in Spain during festival, injuring 313 people

313 people were injured when a boardwalk collapsed during a sports and music festival in the City of Vigo, in the north-west of Spain, as reported by officials.

Insolvent Tosmare Shipyard plans to lay off workers

Tosmare Shipyard, which has been declared insolvent recently, has plans to lay off workers, as reported by LTV.

French police do not allow Latvian activists to carry flag up to Mont Blanc

Police in France stopped the expedition attempted by climbers from Latvia when they attempted to carry a pole and Latvia’s flag to the peak of Mont Blanc, as reported by The Times.

Minister: Economy Ministry’s proposed plan to abolishment of MPC is not the best solution

Economy Ministry’s proposal to abolish mandatory procurement component fee in three years’ time is not the best solution, said Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Construction output in Latvia increased 31.6% in Q2 2018

Compared to Q2 2017, construction output increased by 31.6 % in Q2 2018. Construction output rise was observed in construction of buildings, civil engineering and specialised construction activities.

SEB Bank survey: 40% of youngsters want to have their own business

Youngsters in Latvia are more ambitious that their neighbours in Lithuania and Estonia and wish to start their own business in the future. 36% of Latvian youngsters aged 18 to 25 have plans to start a business. 4% of them already have a business of their own.

Bank of Latvia acquires securities worth EUR 7.187 billion

As part of European Central Bank’s Public Sector Securities Purchase Program, the Bank of Latvia procured at the end of July securities of international organizations in Latvia and Eurozone worth EUR 7.187 billion, according to information published by the Bank of Latvia.

SLC: there is a desire to please businessmen in language matter

Every now and then a desire to please businessmen, foreigners and investors is noticed in state administration, which surfaces in the form of additional freedoms, said State Language Centre’s director Māris Baltiņš in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

airBaltic: 7-8% of planes fully occupied in summer months

In summer months 7-8% of passenger aircraft of Latvian national airBaltic airline are fully occupied, says airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.

Baltcom: merge of LMT and Lattelecom is unavoidable in the future

The merge of mobile communications operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons and telecommunications company Lattelecom is unavoidable in the future, says Baltcom manager Nicolas Boissin.

Weather in Latvia expected to be warm, rainy and windy this week

On Monday, 13 August, high atmospheric pressure area will increase from the east. With that, precipitation will back away. Air temperature will reach +18° C… +23° C during the day and +10° C… +15° C at night, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Ministry initiates swift eviction of Lukiškės Prison

The Ministry of Justice seeks swift eviction of Lukiškės Remand Prison from central Vilnius.

BNN summary of the week: 13th Saeima candidates; Europe’s G-Spot; Latvia’s digital government

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Announcement; Proposal; Expenses; Change; Opposition; Accusation.

IKEA owns approximately 90,000 ha of forests in Latvia

Ever since IKEA Group’s Netherlands-based IRI Investments has become the sole owner of Foran Real Estate, IKEA now owns approximately 90,000 ha of forested land in Latvia, says IRI Forest Management SRL public relations manager Raluka Buzja.

Hot summer causes ice cream sales go up 50% in Latvia

Thanks to a long and hot summer, Latvian residents have been able to enjoy Mediterranean climate and expand their diets with different cool additions, says SIA Rimi Latvia senior public relations specialist Anete Ezeriete.

Ombudsman: certain NGOs lie to UN committee, discrediting Latvia in the process

Certain non-government organizations provide unclear and false information to United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and, possibly, intentionally discredit Latvia, said ombudsman Juris Jansons, commenting on a recent session of the aforementioned committee.

LDz announces procurement for first stage of railway electrification project

As part of Latvian railway electrification project, a talk procedure was announced 10 August. Conditions for participation were published along with this announcement. Construction of the first line of railway electrification will be part of the first stage of the procurement, as reported by Latvijas dzelzceļš representative Ieva Kārkliņa.

390 Ryanair flights cancelled due to strikes

Close to 400 Ryanair flights have been grounded on Friday because of pilot strikes in five European countries.

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