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Wednesday 18.09.2019 | Name days: Liesma, Elita, Alita

BNN summary of the week: Waiting for new Culture Minister; Misleading by Supreme Court chair; bank watchdog overhaul

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

In the past week in Latvia, changes were announced in the Financial and Capital Market Commission, which will have new a management and duties. A substitute has been proposed for Dace Melbārde as the Latvian Culture Minister after her election to the European Parliament. The conservatives have picked Nauris Puntulis, an opera singer and current Riga City councillor, for the post. The candidate gave an interview to BNN on his priorities in the post.

Meanwhile, the Estonian parliament has come to the conclusion that local people should rather buy alcohol in their home country than head to neighbouring Latvia. To this goal, Estonian legislators have decided in the final reading to cut the alcohol excise tax rate by 25%.

The Lithuanian President-Elect Gitanas Nausėda, in turn, has in the past week spoken much about the problem of social exclusion and income inequality in his country.

BNN offers you a summary of the most relevant developments of the week, including topics such as Change, Plan, Price battle, Rights, Position, Development, Arguments and Support.

CHANGE:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Approved: Latvian financial watchdog to have new management, more duties

The Latvian parliament has passed amendments to the Law of the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) aimed at strengthening the prevention of money laundering and terrorism funding in the financial and capital market.

The amendments passed by the Latvian Saeima in their final reading on Thursday, June 13, expand the functions of the Latvian financial and capital watchdog and set the institution an additional goal of the prevention of the legalisation of illegally obtained funds, as well as the prevention of the funding of terrorism and proliferation.

The changes – maintaining the current goal of the operations of the FCMC of ensuring financial stability and the oversight of the financial and capital market players – had been proposed to prevent the possibility to use the Latvian financial sector for the money laundering and for the financing of terrorism.

Read the full article here.

 

PLAN:

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Lithuania’s next President set to take bull by horns in tackling poverty

Lithuania’s president-elect Gitanas Nausėda has touched one issue – social exclusion and high level of income inequality in Lithuanian society – a lot more than all the others.

But can Nausėda, economist by profession, blur the gaping gap between the rich and the poor? Can he find a common ground with the ruling coalition in tackling poverty?

BNN spoke to a number of Lithuanian analysts observing every move of the new state-of-head.

Read the full article here.

 

PRICE BATTLE:

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Estonia confirms alcohol excise U-turn to recover beer tourists from Latvia

As Estonia tries to recover its alcohol customers lost to neighbouring Latvia due to high excise duty, the parliament in Tallinn has passed a 25% cut in excise duty rate.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the bill was passed on Thursday, June 13, in the Riigikogu by landslide.

In the final reading, the bill was passed by 70-9 MP in favour backing the cutting of the alcohol excise duty rates for beer, cider and hard liquor by 25% beginning July 1.

Read the full article here.

 

RIGHTS:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU
Latvian parliament in no rush to discuss Jewish restitution payment of EUR 40 mln

The Latvian Saeima has postponed the discussion of a draft law to compensate the Latvian Jewish community in the amount of 40 million euros for property confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.

The parliament voted on Thursday, June 13, against putting on the Saeima agenda the draft law On the Good Will Compensation to the Latvian Jewish Community for Real Estate Illegally Confiscated during Holocaust and Communist Totalitarian Regime.

Read the full article here.

 

POSITION:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU
Rock and opera singer nominated for Latvian Culture Minister

Latvian rock and opera singer Nauris Puntulis has been picked by the National Alliance as it looks for a new Culture Minister following the current minister’s election to the European Parliament, LETA news agency reports.

The National Alliance, which in the Latvian government is responsible for the area of culture, explained after a party board meeting that there had been tough competition for the nomination to the position.

The chairman of the party, Raivis Dzintars, explained to reporters that the candidacy of Puntulis is good as he is a long-time party member, a very experienced culture worker and is familiar with the work of the Latvian Ministry of Culture. The candidate has been employed as an adviser in the ministry.

Read the full article here and read the BNN exclusive interview with Nauris Puntulis here.

 

DEVELOPMENT:

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Latvian State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa

Damage recovery rights planned for Latvian State Audit

A Latvian Saeima committee approved on Wednesday, June 12, amendments to the State Audit Law to grant the institutional watchdog rights to recover damages from responsible persons over violations of law found during inspections.

The draft amendments have been passed in their final reading on Wednesday by the Saeima Public Administration and Local Government Committee.

The changes set forth: if unlawful actions, which have caused damages to the state, are found during inspections, then the State Audit (VK) has the right to launch against the guilty public officials the proceedings of damage recovery.

Read the full article here.

 

ARGUMENTS:

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Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Court Ivars Bičkovičs

Latvian Supreme Court chairman blamed for misleading PM over new court

Latvian Supreme Court chairman Ivars Bičkovičs has misrepresented to the Prime Minister the opinion of the Justice Council on the plan of a new economic cases’ court, says Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns.

The Latvian Justice Council, which is headed by Supreme Court chairman Ivars Bičkovičs, decided in its meeting of June 3 not to support the proposal of Justice Minister Bordāns to introduce a new court specialised in commercial disputes and financial and economic crime cases. Two members of the council voted in favour of the establishment of the new court, while nine members were against it.

The Justice Council then sent a letter to Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) and the Saeima, expressing a critical view of the plan, reasoning that the vision of the economic cases’ court lacks adequate analysis of causes of problems and their consequences.

Read the full article here.

 

SUPPORT:

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Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis

Latvia nominates ex-PM Dombrovskis to European Commission again

The Latvian Cabinet of Ministers decided on Tuesday to nominate former Latvian Prime Minister and current Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis to continue as the representative of Latvia in the institution.

In a government sitting on Tuesday, June 11, ministers supported the draft order stipulating the nomination of Dombrovskis from the New Unity party alliance.

The candidate, who is the current European Commission Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said to reporters on Tuesday that he would like to continue working with financial and economic affairs in the executive body of the European Union.

Read the full article here.


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Discussions about MPC nearly ruin Latvian government’s 2020 budget viewing

The sudden outburst of the government over the addition of the mandatory procurement component to the government’s list of topics almost caused discussions of the 2020 government budget fall through.

EU court views Ireland’s appeal against 13 billion-euro fine to Apple

The General Court of the European Union has commenced the hearing of an appeal against a decision by Brussels that Ireland has to recover 13 billion euros from the tech giant Apple for unpaid taxes.

Amid investigations, Swedbank admits shortcomings in anti-money laundering work

In Estonia and Sweden, the leading bank of the Baltics, Swedbank has admitted to investigating authorities that it has had and still has certain shortcomings in areas linked to the prevention of money laundering, according a press release.

Latvian government approves changes to improve healthcare for pregnant women

Latvia’s government has approved amendment to Cabinet of Ministers requirements to help expand screening of birth defects and establish recertification requirements for obstetricians, Healthcare Ministry reports.

FVS: catering in multiple education facilities in Sigulda was being provided illegally

Latvia’s Food and Veterinary Service found different violations of regulations during inspections performed in schools around Sigulda, as confirmed by the service.

Exclusive | Competition Council’s chief on construction cartel; society needs to see the guilty pay the price

Society needs to see the guilty pay the price. Those guilty need to step down from their posts, not go underground and wait until the storm has calmed down, BNN was told by Competition Council’s chairperson Skaidrīte Ābrama about the recently uncovered construction cartel and suspicions over involvement of high-ranking officials.

U.S. urges Lithuania not to honour people linked to Holocaust

An American Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues has called on Lithuania «to objectively review the actions of historical figures to determine the impact of their actions, both positive and negative».

Minsk stands for its nuclear rights as Lithuania warns about Astravyets’ safety

As the Belarus’ first nuclear power plant is scheduled to start operations later in 2019 despite opposition from Lithuania, the Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister has reiterated the country’s rights to produce nuclear power.

University of Latvia to organize a new procurement for House of Letters

The procurement for the House of Letters has been put on hold and the University of Latvia has decided to organize a new procurement for the building’s construction, as acting LU rector Gvido Straube told public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds.

Latvia’s SRS’s tax collection in eight months exceeds expectations

In the first eight months of 2019 Latvia’s State Revenue Service has collected EUR 6.446 billion for the state budget, which is 0.3% or EUR 20.899 million more than previously planned, according to published information.

Amnesty International awards teenage climate activist Thunberg

Amnesty International, which describes itself as the world’s largest human rights organisation, has given its Ambassador of Consciousness Award to Swedish schoolgirl, who has inspired the mass weekly demonstrations calling for climate-conscious policy reforms.

Citskovskis: wages in public administration should reach 80% of private sector’s

In the development of a new remuneration system in public administration, one of the goals is achieving that wages in public administration reaches 80% of the remuneration level in the private sector, said the head of Latvia’s State Chancellery Jānis Citskovskis in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

EU to discuss Brexit with UK each day, Johnson still pushing to leave on October 31

A high-level Brexit meeting has been held by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the officials have agreed to make meetings more frequent with October 31 as the deadline.

Investigation of intestinal infection leads FVS to vegetable processing shop in Jelgava

While investigating the cause behind the intestinal infection in Sigulda, Latvia’s Food and Veterinary Service has shut down a vegetable processing shop in Jelgava, as confirmed by the service.

Ukraine planning surge in military spending as war continues

Amid preparations for Donbas War talks in the Normandy format, Kyiv has announced a draft national budget that would include a 16%-hike in defence spending.

Latvia’s number of vacant job above EU’s average in second quarter of 2019

In Q2 2019, the number of vacant jobs in Latvia was above the average of European Union and Eurozone, which is reflected in percentage ratio between the total number of jobs – both taken and vacant.

Estonia worried West’s loosening grip on Russia could end in third intervention

Amid concessions to Russia in the OSCE and calls to invite it to the G7, Estonian Foreign Minister has spoken against the possibility of lower European Union’s principles against Russia, which could encourage Moscow to carry out third interventionist adventure.

19 children and four kindergarten employees show signs of intestinal infection

By Sunday, 15 September, symptoms of intestinal infection were found for 23 people, including 19 children and four kindergarten employees in Sigulda and its surrounding areas, as reported by Disease Prevention and Control Centre.

Number of vacant jobs in Latvia up 5 900 or 23.8%

In Q2 2019 there were 30.5 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.9 thousand vacancies or 23.8 % more than in Q2 2018. In public sector there were 8.6 thousand and in private sector 21.9 thousand vacant jobs.

Europe’s electricity network will help increase energy exchange opportunities

After Baltic States’ joining of the European Electricity Network, there will be an increase for opportunities in energy exchange and trade, says AS Augstsprieguma tīkls board member Varis Boks.

Tartu retail battle: Maxima objects being shoulder to shoulder with Lidl

In the city of Tartu, Lithuanian grocery retail chain Maxima is not satisfied with the local zoning plan that could see the first shop of its low-price competitor Lidl be opened close to its property.

Unemployment benefits in Latvia to be paid for eight, not nine months

From now on unemployment benefits in Latvia will be paid for eight, not nine months. The total amount is cut, thereby allowing Welfare Ministry to save EUR 12 million, said minister Ramona Petraviča in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama.

Transport pollution: Paris planning 500 subsidy to e-bike purchase to millions

As France aims to reduce its air pollution, greater Paris is considering a massive subsidy programme to millions of its inhabitants to the purchase of an electric bike.

Polluted areas in Riga disappear from registers; builders often relieved of clean-up

Polluted territories in Riga have a tendency to disappear from registers of such territories. Often this results in builders being relieved of the responsibility of construction restrictions and the duty to clean polluted territories, as reported by public broadcaster TV3 programme Nekā Personīga.

EU: Progress in Brexit talks not «huge» as PM Johnson says it is

«Huge progress» – these words were used by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to describe the state of Brexit talks before he travels to Brussels hoping to overcome the Irish backstop problem. European Commission however is yet to receive alternative proposals to speak of.

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