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Wednesday 19.09.2018 | Name days: Verners, Muntis
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BNN summary of the week: SRS searches for spotless reputation; MPC talks continue

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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: Progress; Change; Contest; Announcement; Future; Politicians.

PROGRESS: Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before

In the years to come Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before, says the soon ex-director of the museum Imants Lancmanis, who intends to retire at the end of this year.

He says the plan to form a new team has been realized, and that he has no doubts about the museum’s future. Lancmanis explains that he was previously concerned that young people may not want to live in the countryside and that they may not have any interest in Rundale Castle or ancient history and art. Fortunately, Lancmanis believes this is no longer a problem.

Lancmanis adds that he would like candidates to continue his management style – which does not include the museum’s commercialization.

When asked if any of the museum’s existing employees may participate in the contest for the director’s post, Lancmanis said he is aware of one person who intends to become a candidate: «I would rather not speculate. I want to see the outcome of the contest. We know of one candidate, but I want to see the full picture,» said Lancmanis.

He said museum director’s work is made complicated by the wide spectrum of tasks – maintenance of a large collection of art and historic items, management of the archive and function of the documentation centre. With that, he believes the museum should focus more on research and publications in the future. Lancmanis also believes research should not be limited to the castle – it should include research of art and architecture from different historic periods.

Full article here

CHANGE: Lithuania lays symbolic rail on restored Mažeiķi–Reņģe railway line

Lithuania’s Lietuvos geležinkeliai railway company’s director general Mantas Bartuška and Polish oil concern Orlen manager Daniel Obatjek laid a symbolic rail on the restored railway route connecting Orlen Lithuania owned Mažeiķi oil processing plant in Lithuania and Reņģi in Latvia this Tuesday, 14 August.

The aforementioned route was closed and dismantled ten years ago. The two officials also signed an agreement on cooperation between the two companies.

This agreement provides that Lietuvos geležinkeliai will carry cargoes from Orlen subsidiary Orlen Lithuania to Poland from now on. Until now products from Mažeiķi oil processing company have been carried by Lietuvos geležinkeliai only within Lithuania’s territory.

As Lithuania’s Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis said at the press-conference, the laying of the rail on the route has a symbolic meaning, because it proves successful overcoming of previous disagreements between Lietuvos geležinkeliai and Orlen.

«This disagreement and dismantling of the railway line many years ago had not only caused the conflict between Orlen Lithuania and Lietuvos geležinkeliai but had also impacted relations between our countries,» he said.

Mantas Bartuška called this day a historical one. «Today we commence restoration [of the railway] and open a new page. This is a day of partnership. Together we put the foundation for the future,» said the head of Lietuvos geležinkeliai.

Obatjek said the signed agreement will allow the company to carry more cargoes and benefit both Lithuania and Poland.

As announced by Lietuvos geležinkeliai, it is planned to carry several hundred thousand tonnes of Orlen Lithuania products a year in Poland’s direction. The current volume of cargoes is approximately nine million tonnes annually.

Full article here

CONTEST: New tender announced for post of SRS director; first requirement – spotless reputation

Latvia’s State Chancellery has announced an open personnel selection process for the post of director of State Revenue Service. Application submission process will last until 14 September.

Finance and administrative managers are welcome to apply. Similar to other high-level tenders, a personnel selection company will be involved. The company this time will be Amrop. It will help define the necessary requirements, invite potential candidates and perform their assessment across all stages of the project.

As noted by the chancellery, the main requirements for contenders is spotless reputation, a Master’s degree, at least three years of experience in a private sector organization with turnover of at least EUR 5 million and fifty employees or public sector organization with access to at least EUR 3 million of budget funds and 150 employees, managing these organizations directly. Experience working in a lower-rank post is acceptable if contenders had at least 200 direct or indirect subordinates.

Contenders also must have international and/or interdepartmental collaboration experience, successful change management experience, as well as be able to resolve matters systematically and work with complicated and large volumes of information. Candidates are also expected to have experience and understanding of the structure of state management, administrative processes and budget planning. Candidates also must have excellent strategic planning, cooperation, communication, presentation and English language skills.

The personnel selection process will have three stages. The first stage will commence 14 September. During this stage, the commission will evaluate submitted documents and contenders’ compliance with requirements of the contest. At the same time, the company will prepare and submit detailed comments to the commission, including potential reputation risk analysis for every candidate approved for the second stage of the contest.

Full article here

ANNOUNCEMENT: Unemployment level in Latvia down to 7.7% in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.7 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, while over the year it dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

In the 2nd quarter, in Latvia there were 75.4 thousand unemployed persons aged 15–74, which is 11.2 thousand people fewer than a year ago and 4.6 thousand fewer than in the previous quarter, according to results of the Labour Force Survey by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

Since the 3rd quarter of 2008, Latvian unemployment rate exceeds the European Union (EU) average (except for Q1 2015 when both indicators were equal). In Q1 2018, Latvian unemployment rate (constituting 8.2 %) exceeded the EU average (7.4 %) by 0.8 percentage points. In Q2 2018, Latvia still had the highest unemployment rate in the Baltic States – 7.7 %, compared to 5.1 % in Estonia and 5.9 % in Lithuania.

In Q2 2018, the share of long-term unemployed persons, i.e., those who have been without work for 12 months or longer, in the total number of unemployed persons grew – from 39.4 % in Q2 2017 to 41.3 % in Q2 2018. The number of long-term unemployed persons reduced by 2.9 thousand, falling to 31.1 thousand.

Full article here

FUTURE: Noord Natie develops a new business niche – attracts cruise ships for Ventspils

The first of the cruise ships attracted from SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals will arrive at Ventspils port this week. NNVT stresses that development of cruise business as a new product will help develop tourism in the city and region, as well as provide a contribution to economic development and raise recognition of NNVT terminal and the city.

NNVT representatives say that the cruise business so far has been inactive in Ventspils. This is because there are no institutions or businesses that perform attraction of cruise lines and coordination of activities among involved sides to ensure their success in Ventspils. Ships of different cruise organizers did stop not far from Ventspils pier not long ago. However, because it is not fully compatible with such ships, NNVT commenced a new initiative for attraction of cruise ships a couple of years ago.

«Two years ago we became fully-fledged members of Cruise Europe, which has provided us with information circulation and self-promotion options using media and expos,» says NNVT Commercial Department manager Artis Šenkevics. The terminal, together with cooperation partners has performed talks with well-known cruise ship operators to outline Ventspils port on their maps and use its excellent geographical location, infrastructure and the company’s rich experience with passenger services. The flow of tourists travelling to Sweden via ferry exceeds 130,000, the company continues.

Full article here

POLITICIANS: 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.

Valdis Kalnozols, a member of the Union of Greens and Farmers, seems to be the most active businessman, as he owns shares in six businesses. Members of UGF faction own twenty companies. Members of Concord own twelve.

Lursoft has performed a study of 12th Saeima deputies and government ministers to see how they’ve been able to combine their posts with business activities.

«Three opposition deputies – Vladimirs Nikonovs, Jānis Tutins and Ivans Ribakovs – are not only colleagues in the Saeima but also business partners. These politicians and three more private persons own 2006-founded SIA Saknes Plus, which is involved in magazine and periodic book publishing activities. An analysis of annual accounts shows that this company has yet to commence meaningful economic activities over the course of many years,» as reported by Lursoft representative Indra Urtāne.

According to data from the study, companies owned by Saeima deputies and ministers turned over EUR 17.96 million, earned EUR 308.86 million, provided 336 people with jobs, and paid EUR 3.05 million in taxes to the state budget last year.

«Naturally, not all businesses have had such successful results. For example, two companies (Rihards Kozlovskis’ partially owned SIA BBF Consulting and Valdis Kalnozols’ owned SIA Kalnozols un partneri) has commenced an insolvency process. Nine companies have been applied with collateral management. What is particularly interesting that of the six companies owned by Valdis Kalnozols only SIA Dizaina līnija currently has no difficulties, because other companies have either been closed down, declared insolvent or provided with guarantees,» says Urtāne.

Full article here


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20 complaints received in first 10 days of data protection regulation

In the first 100 days since adoption of European General Data Protection Regulation, Latvia’s Data State Inspectorate has received 20 data protection violation reports, said the centre’s director Daiga Avdejanova during a meeting of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee.

Ministry: non-banking lenders should assess clients’ solvency more carefully

Although certain improvements have been noticed in the industry, Latvia’s Economy Ministry invites amendments to make non-banking lenders perform more careful evaluation of clients’ solvency and allow creditors exchange information with one another.

Saeima argues over request to assess attempts to cancel «morality amendments»

During a meeting of Saeima’s Inquiry Committee, certain members and NGO representatives exchanged harsh words on Saeima opposition deputies’ request to Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis on association Papardes zieds’ protection of interests for the cancellation of so-called morality amendments.

EU residents believe European authorities should be more involved in certain areas

According to results of European Parliament’s Eurobarometer study, published eight weeks prior to elections in EU, residents believe European authorities should be more involved in certain matters. Priorities include terrorism threats, unemployment and environmental protection.

Estonian internet user growth strongest among elderly

The share of internet users in Estonia has continued to grow in 2018 and has over the past three months increased the most among 65–74-year-olds, official statistics show.

Regulator invited to assess calculation of electricity transmission tariff

Conclusions made by State Audit in relation to tariffs employed by Sadales tīkls show that recommendations received from OECD a couple of years ago in relation to public service tariff calculation should be carefully considered and adopted to ensure balance the interests of consumers and service providers.

Latvian police points towards stagnation in road traffic safety

So far this year 91 people have died in road traffic accidents in Latvia. According to State Police Road Traffic Safety Office Chief Normunds Krapsis, stagnation is present for road traffic safety.

Latvian government to attract EUR 29.5 million to restore Latgale’s degraded territories

On Tuesday, 18 September, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers supported the action plan for Latgale region’s economic growth 2018-2021, which provides for attracting of EUR 29.5 million to help restore the region’s degraded territories.

China announces retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, seeks free trade support

Beijing has stated it would impose a duty tariff increase on American imports worth 60 billion U.S. dollars in a reaction to Washington's announcement to add tariffs on imports from China worth 200 billion U.S. dollars.

Montenegro to join NATO battalion stationed in Latvia

According to NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe James Everard, Montenegro plans to join the multi-national battalion currently stationed in Latvia.

U.S. looking seriously at Poland's request for American base on its soil

U.S President Donald Trump has noted the country was looking seriously at a request from Poland for a permanent U.S. military base in the fellow NATO member state and agreed that Polish concerns about possible Russian aggression were shared.

Russian plane near Syria shot down by ally targeting Israeli planes

The Russian military plane, which went missing on Monday, has been shot down by its ally Syria targeting Israel's war planes and the number of servicemen lost in the event has been corrected from 14 to 15, the Russian government stated.

Latvian border guards find more than 140 kg of hashish in a car

On 16 September, Latvian State Border Guard detained a 1991-born man and his car at Grebnev border checkpoint. A secret compartment containing 145.3 kg of narcotic substances was found in his car during a routine inspection, as reported by State Border Guard.

EU suspects German car-makers of colluding against cleaner technology

EU competition watchdogs are probing if German automotive giants have colluded to restrict the development of clean emission technology.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 7.8 thousand in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 there were 24.5 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 7.8 thousand vacancies or 46.6 % more than in Q2 2017. In public sector there were 7.2 thousand and in private sector 17.3 thousand job vacancies.

Latvian government desperate to resolve the growing piles of used tires problem

Latvian government has supported Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s prepared report ‘On maintenance of used tires’. This report includes proposals for measures to help resolve the matter regarding speeding up recycling and regeneration rates, as well as the no less important matter of maintenance of used tires.

Cargo volumes handled by Latvian ports remain stable in first half-year of 2018

Latvian ports transshipped 43.468 million tonnes of cargoes in the first eight months of 2018, which is 0.9% more than in the same period of last year. According to data from Transport Ministry, cargo turnover’s negative balance continues declining at Ventspils port, where 13.274 million tonnes of cargoes were transshipped in the first eight months, which is a drop of 11.9%.

airBaltic carried 18% more passengers in summer

Latvian airline airBaltic has carried 2,770,047 more passengers to destinations in Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East in the first eight months of 2018, BNN was told by the company.

Ukrainian workers in Lithuania gradually fill gap left by Lithuanian exodus

Companies in Lithuania, in particular operating in construction, logistics and retail chains, are increasingly inviting workers from Ukraine and Belarus to fill the worker shortage of Lithuanians moving to richer countries.

ABLV Bank assets worth EUR 47.14 million recovered in August

Assets worth EUR 47.13 million were recovered from the liquidated ABLV Bank in August, which is 2.2 times more than a month prior, according to the account published in Latvian Herald.

Estonia bank watchdog points to Denmark's responsibility over Danske

As to the allegations of doubtful billions flowing via the Estonia branch of Danske Bank, the Estonian watchdog of financial institutions has noted that the Danish supervisory authority was responsible for the lender's risk control.

Liepaja City Council vice-chairman steps down

On Monday, 17 September, Liepaja City Council vice-chairman for tourism and investment affairs Ģirts Kronbergs announced his resignation.

Sixteen contenders apply for Rundale Castle Museum director’s post

A total of sixteen contenders have applied for participation in Latvian Culture Ministry’s announced open personnel selection process to find the next director of Rundale Castle Museum.

Russia: Military plane with 14 Russian soldiers has been lost near Syria

A Russian war plane with 14 servicemen on board has disappeared while over the Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Syria, Russia's Defence Ministry has stated.

Unity decides not to support UGF’s initiative for people’s elected president

Unity political party has no plans to support the amendments submitted by the Union of Greens and Farmers on people’s elected president, says Unity’s chairman Arvils Ašeradens.

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