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Ceturtdiena 21.11.2019 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte

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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BATL board member: Latvia should offer Belarusian partners an attractive offer

«To ensure potassium salt from Belarus returns to Latvia, we have to do our homework – make railway infrastructure more efficient, reduce tariffs and give Belarusian partners an attractive offer. And we need to act quickly. The new legislative initiative for the opening of the border railway section for all cargo carriers is a strong signal to help strengthen cooperation between Latvia and Belarus,» stresses Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics board member Ivars Landmanis.

Court sees personal promotion attempts in claims about delays with Maxima tragedy case

Riga City Pardaugava Court denies claims made by a number of people about slow progress with the review of the criminal case regarding the Zolitude tragedy. On top of that, the court says those are attempts to secure positive personal promotion at the expense of the tragedy’s victims and such claims mislead society.

Lithuania courts idea of establishing a state commercial bank

If you were this week to flick through pages of Lithuanian print and online outlets, the topic of banking will pop up on top. Lithuania’s Scandinavian capital-based commercial banks SEB and Swedbank are closing their regional branches, cash operations are gone in most bank affiliates, there are fewer ATM machines around, mortgage interest rates in Lithuania are higher than elsewhere and I can go on with the list on local banks’ sins. How to rein in the situation in banking sector?

Google, Facebook business incompatible with privacy rights, says Amnesty International

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has found in a study that the «surveillance-based business model» of Facebook and Google's is incompatible with the right to privacy. The U.S. companies disagree.

Latvia’s efforts to achieve climate neutrality may require billions of euros

Latvia has not yet estimated the costs of moving towards climate neutrality, but they may reach billions of euros, said Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s deputy state secretary Alda Ozola at the Energy and Climate Plan 2030 – Road towards Sustainable Country forum on Thursday, 21 November.

Ex-president: 13th Saeima is not responsible for previous parliament’s «cuckoo eggs»

Latvia’s ex-president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga believes there is no reason to dissolve the 13th Saeima.If the previous Saeima left some «cuckoo eggs» for the new parliament before leaving, such as something in legislation, this does not mean the current Saeima is to blame, says the ex-president.

If Riga City Council fails to resolve waste management problem, Pūce may initiate dismissal

If Riga City Council fails to resolve the waste management problem by 11 December, Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry will likely initiate the city council’s dismissal, said Environment Minister Juris Pūce in a conversation with journalists on 21 November.

Rats in Estonia cut e-governance services

In Estonia, which sees itself as the world’s first digital nation, has experienced an interruption of state e-services, caused, apparently, by rats in Harju County around Tallinn.

Saeima deputies: bio-economy is a major strategic development direction for Latvia

Bio-economy is one of the main strategic directions for Latvia and the National Development Plan for 2021-2027 needs to have a section dedicated to bio-economy. It needs to detail a specific vision for necessary innovations, labour force resource and capital attraction.

Greece to close overcrowded migrant camps

The Greek government has announced plans to shut down overcrowded open migrant camps to open closed and smaller centres.

Cērps: financial stability should be the main priority for the Bank of Latvia

One major priority for the Bank of Latvia should be responsibility over the stability of the financial system, said potential candidate for the post of the Bank of Latvia and ex-chairman of the Finance and Capital Market Commission Uldis Cērps.

Spanish court points to Ryanair baggage fee excessiveness

Europe’s leading airline Ryanair has been fined by a court in Spain that ruled that asking a fee for hand baggage is excessive.

European Commission positive about Latvia’s budget for 2020

Latvia maintained budget discipline in its next year’s budget plan, the deficit is within acceptable borders, but the tax portion’s decline before the economy generally does not allow for rapid increase of public expenditures, including wages, pensions and benefits, the European Commission admits.

Terrorist attack victim numbers decline, but many countries remain at risk of terrorism

The number of people who died in terrorist attacks around the world had dropped 15.2% in 2018. Nevertheless, the number of countries that are under risk of terrorist attacks has only increased since then, as reported by the Institute for Economics and Peace on Tuesday, 20 November.

Swedish TV: U.S. investigates Swedbank over violations of Russia sanctions

With U.S. and European Union’s sanctions banned from cooperating with Russian weapon maker Kalashnikov, Swedbank has been involved in sending large sums between the shareholders of the Russian firm and the owner of Kalashnikov USA, Swedish television SVT reports.

Saeima’s committee views residents’ request on postponing increase of party funding

On Wednesday, 20 November, Saeima’s Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee conceptually supported the legislative draft on the initiative signed by more than 11 000 residents in regards to the significant increase of funding for political parties and its submission to the parliament’s Budget Committee for review.

Estonia sees no alternative to NATO and says it’s strong

Estonia’s top diplomate Urmas Reinsalu has announced prior to a meeting with counterparts from other NATO nations that he considers the alliance strong and sees no alternatives to it.

Supplying all Latvian residents with food would cost nearly EUR 12 million per day

In the event of a threat to the state, supplying Latvian residents with food would cost the state budget approximately EUR 12 million per day, according to estimates from Agriculture Ministry, which were performed in line with adoption of a comprehensive state security system.

State Revenue Service employees’ «glances» at sensitive files and symbolic penalties

Employees of Latvia’s State Revenue Service have been punished multiple times for leaking sensitive data in the past. People received insignificant disciplinary penalties while the leaked information may have ended up in the hands of less than honest people. Why is it that state security matters protected as well as empty hockey gates and who should be held responsible?

Malta arrests businessman in journalist murder case

Maltese authorities have arrested in the murder case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Wednesday a well-known entrepreneur Yorgen Fenech. Police and Fenech himself have not yet commented publicly on the operation

Latvia’s finance minister bets on tax reform to find money for healthcare

To find necessary funding for healthcare, Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs proposes creating «a fair system» in the context of the expected tax reform in which all employed taxpayers will be able to participate.

Levits: Principle of irresponsibility is entrenched in Latvia

Latvian President Egils Levits, discussing the issue of doctor wages in the country, has said: «We have developed for a long time a mechanism of irresponsibility». The head of state gave an interview to Latvijas Televīzija’s programme Rīta Panorāma on Wednesday, November 20.

Riga Mayor ready to resign, if no new majority in City Council

Riga Mayor Oļegs Burovs is looking for a new majority after cooperation with his party has been stopped by Harmony party. If no new majority is established, Burovs would resign, he said in an interview with Latvijas Radio.

Lithuanian firefighters protest over low pay and outdated equipment

Lithuanian firefighters have reminded of government commitments in the field in a protest in Vilnius over the average wage of 430 euros and outdated equipment.

Sweden discontinues investigation into Wikileaks Assange over rape

Swedish investigators have decided to end investigation into Julian Assange, the whistle-blower organisation Wikileaks, over alleged rape that has been upheld since 2010.

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