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Monday 22.07.2019 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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

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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We have to be patient – Latvian minister about citizen detained in Iran

We have to be patient in the matter concerning Stena Impero tanker’s crew and the Latvian citizen who are detained by Iranian authorities. A lot depends on how political events unravel, says Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Committee: potential NEPLP members’ reputation is their promoters’ responsibility

Responsibility for the reputation of potential members of Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council should be taken by organizations that recommend them, said head of 12th Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Inese Laizāne.

Latvia to test individual budget model to support people with mental disorders

Welfare Ministry and ten municipalities will use EU Social Fund’s co-financing to test a new approach for social service provision to adults suffering from mental disorders. In other countries this approach is known as «individual budget model».

UK in emergency meeting over Iran-seized tanker with Latvia on board

British government members, intelligence and military chefs are holding an emergency meeting over the seizure by Iran of a UK-flagged oil tanker with a Latvian crew member on board in the Persian Gulf.

Latvian lawyer and ex-judge Uldis Bērziņš killed in Mārupe

Lawyer and ex-judge Uldis Bērziņš was killed in Mārupe, Latvia, according to information from LETA.

Audit uncovers a lack of transparency in use of Latvian Agriculture Ministry’s money

Unclear accounting and use of finances, council members with ties to associations assess money allocation for associations, trips to Spain and Italy for no reason, as well as hundreds of projects with no tangible results – State Audit assess use of finances in Agriculture Ministry’s funds.

Estonian President cycles 135 km in amateur Tour de France

Estonian head of state, Kersti Kaljulaid, showed an example of active lifestyle as she cycled 135 kilometres in Étape du Tour de France on Sunday, the amateur stage of the annual bicycle classic.

Latvian minister may consider raising tax on diesel fuel to finance road maintenance

In order to find money to finance road maintenance in Latvia, the option of increasing excise tax for diesel fuel is not entirely excluded, said Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 22 July.

Court ruling on Estonia ferry disaster seen as big disappointment

The ruling of a French court in a compensation case over the tragic sinking of Estonia ferry in 1994 has been described as a big disappointment by lawyer of the relatives of victims.

Latvian citizen among sailors of British tanker detained by Iran

Among the crew of the British tanker detained by Iran is one Latvian citizen, according to the report from Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Heavy rain expected in Latvia at week’s beginning; air temperature to reach +29° C

The beginning of the week in Latvia will be rainy, as low atmospheric pressure and rain clouds move through Latvia. Nevertheless, at the end of the week air temperature will reach +29 C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology.

In Ukrainian parliamentary election, win of Zelenskiy's party coming

Ukraine has held its snap parliamentary election, where, according to exit polls, Servant of the People party lead by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won with a clear majority.

Week in Lithuania: CB denies Swedbank’s Syria links, PM Skvernelis to change some ministers

Last week, PM Saulius Skvernelis revealed that the Government mulls taxing property and polluting cars, Lithuanian Railways said it will keep contract with Latvia's Sigmen, Court disqualifies itself from Paleckis case.

BNN summary of the week: Cutting a pie. Minimal wage. Dangerous games

Is there a pleasant aroma of a fresh pie in the air? Judging by events of the past week, the tasty smell of the 2020 budget has already spread across government corridors even though the dough is not ever ready.

Latvia among Baltic States with first quarter’s highest budget deficit

In Q1 2019, the general government budget deficit ratio to GDP in Latvia was higher than the average across the EU, according to data published by Eurostat.

Latvia’s industrial producer price level up 0.4% in June

Compared to May, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.4 % in June 2019. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.5 %, but prices of exported products reduced by 0.7 %.

Curious career zigzags. From shipping schemes to a warm seat in Latvian Railway

Shadow of doubt over fraud worth five million euros. Career twists with Lembergs’ approval. Secret peace treaty following Uldis Augulis’ entry to Transport Ministry. Illegal state of monopoly in the industry. What hides behind Latvian Railway chief’s «spotless» reputation?

Estonian TransferWise hires Netflix’s ex-chief financial officer

Estonian-led financial transactions start-up TransferWise has announced expansion of its board of directors with the former chief financial officer of the American online television service Netflix, David Wells.

Ukraine to reform citizenship process following Russian passport move

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, has ordered changes to the process for receving Ukrainian citizenship reacting to a Moscow decree increasing the number of Ukrainians eligible for fast-track Russian passports.

SES: barrels with chemicals found in Baldone are not harmful to people or environment

The barrels found in Baldone containing different chemicals do not present any direct threats to the environment or people, as reported by State Environment Service.

U.S. shoots down Iranian aircraft amid rising tensions in Persian Gulf

With American-Iranian relations being tense, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that an American naval ship had downed an Iranian drone that threatened the ship in the Arabian Sea.

NATO StratCom does not consider FaceApp more dangerous than Facebook

The US Democratic Party is concerned about Russian-made FaceApp, which allows its users to imagine how they might look like when they are old and retired. NATO StratCom, however, does not consider the app to be more dangerous than other apps users entrust their personal data with.

Additional information to be asked for in Latvian prosecutor general’s evaluation

Saeima deputies who initiated the investigation if there are reasons the justify dismissal of Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers have been asked to clarify their request by providing more detailed information in relation to conclusions mentioned in their request.

Latvian minister wants more responsibility for the state in children rights protection

The new children’s rights protection model will delegate more functions to the state, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Scandinavian tourist killers in Morocco convicted to capital punishment

In Morocco, for the murder of two Scandinavian tourists, three Islamic State group supporters have been sentenced to death.