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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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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.

European Parliament urges Russia to release illegally arrested Ukrainian citizens

On Thursday, 18 July, European Parliament’s members accepted a resolution in which they invite Russia to unconditionally release all illegally and arbitrarily arrested Ukrainian citizens in Russia and occupied territories in Ukraine.

New York Times: stakes are high for Latvia in the fight against money laundering

US newspaper New York Times has published an article detailing problems with Latvia’s finance system, admitting that stakes are especially high in the fight against money laundering in this Baltic country.

Seats divided – Latvian MEPs find their jobs for the next several years

European Parliament has announced to composition of its parliamentary delegations. This includes the roles of Latvian MEPs for the first two and a half years of service, as reported by EP representative Jānis Krastiņš.

Defiant Lithuanian Parliament Speaker snubs party’s decision on his ouster

The summer’s record heatwave has withdrawn, but the Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, is sizzling – the chamber’s speaker, Viktoras Pranckietis, remains defiant, snubbing the ruling Farmers and Greens (LFGU) Council’s nearly unanimous decision to oust him from the post, following the signing of the LFGU-led new coalition agreement in early July.

Latvian Saeima committee supports increasing teachers’ wages to EUR 750

On Thursday, 18 July, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee supporter proposal for division of finances to increase minimal wages of teachers to EUR 750 in 2019.

260 more marriages than last year registered in Latvia so far in 2019

In the six months of 2019, a total of 4 730 marriages were registered, and that is 260 marriages more than during the same period of the previous year.

Dentists in Latvia may be offered compensation for work in country’s regions

To improve accessibility of healthcare services outside of Riga, it is planned to expand the range of medical specialists who are eligible for financial support when choosing to work in regions, as reported by Healthcare Ministry.

Open arms for Lidl – Estonian competition watchdog predicts lower prices

Expecting the entry of the German supermarket chain Lidl on the Estonian market, the country’s Competition Authority expects healthier competition and lower prices.

Latvian president says funding is a non-issue if public media are organized

Resolving the public media crisis will make funding a non-issue, said Latvia’s President Egils Levits in an interview to public broadcaster LTV Rīta panorama programme.

Latvian minister shocked over situation with orphans in the country

Latvia’s Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča is unpleasantly surprised with institutions’ and municipalities’ opposition towards orphaned children ending up in a family-like environment, saying it’s an «inconceivable situation».

No measles’ vaccine for child? 2 500-euro fine planned in Germany

As Germany seeks to curb an increase in measles’ cases, the federal government has passed a plan of mandatory vaccinations for children and school staff and a fine of up to 2 500 euros for lacking a vaccine.

Latvia commences procurement for public transport services in next decade

A procurement process has been announced for public transport services in Latvia for 2021-2030, as confirmed by Road Transport Directorate.

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