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Monday 22.07.2019 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina
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BNN weekly summary: Fall of Turlais, alcohol tit for tat, Latvenergo council sacked

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

This week a top theme in Latvia and Estonia was the alcohol excise tax. Latest events showed that Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas does not plan to cut the tax rates an further, commenting Latvia’s possible 15%-reduction of liquor excise tax rate.

The Riga City Council, in turn, is still in internal battle mode. The newly elected Mayor Dainis Turlais (Honour to Serve Riga) has not survived a no-confidence vote and consequently lost the post.

Meanwhile, the Latvian State Audit has experienced positive changes. Namely, its new authority to recover damages has been approved toward persons responsible for violations of law found during inspections.

BNN offers you a summary of the most topical developments of the week, including topics such as Change, Statement, Confidence, Battle, Position, Advancement, Discussion and Wishes.

TRUST:

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

Ousted Riga City Mayor Dainis Turlais

Riga city Mayor Turlais loses post in no-confidence vote

The chairman of the Riga City Council, Dainis Turlais (Honour to Serve Riga) has not survived a no-confidence vote, which lead to him losing the post of the Mayor of the Latvian capital.

On Thursday, June 20, in the 60-seat Riga City Council, 31 Council members expressed their lack of confidence in Turlais, including all opposition factions, councilman Oskars Putniņš, who is working outside party factions, and the faction of independent councilmen, made up of four politicians, Valērijs Petrovs, Aleksejs Rosļikovs, Vitālijs Dubovs un Vadims Baraņņiks.

Read the full article here.

ADVANCEMENT:

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

Latvian State Audit tasked with damage recovery rights

The Saeima has passed in the final reading amendments to the State Audit Law authorising the public spending watchdog to recover damages from persons responsible for violations of law found during institutional inspections.

According to the decision by the Latvian parliament of Thursday, June 20, the State Audit Law has been updated with a whole new section that outlines the procedure of the recovery of damages.

Read the full article here.

BATTLE:

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

Estonia not to deepen its U-turn on alcohol excise, after Latvian move

Following Latvian plan to retaliate to Estonia’s sharp drop of its alcohol excise tax rates, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre Party) has stated that Tallinn is not going to cut its rates any further.

The Estonian parliament has recently decided in the final reading of a proposal to cut excise tax rates on both light alcohol and liquor by 25% from July 1 after years of sharp increases of its alcohol excise rates.

On Thursday, June 20, Latvian Saeima, reacting to what is seen by the Latvian government as the breaking by Estonia of a pan-Baltic deal on the gradual increase of alcohol excise tax rates, and passed in the first reading a proposal to cut only the liquor rate by 15% as a matter of urgency.

Read the full article here.

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

Proposed EUR 40 mln compensation to Latvian Jewish community retracted

Latvian party alliance Development/For! (AP) has retracted its own draft law on the restitution in the amount of 40 million euros to the Latvian Jewish community for real estate confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.

The decision about the draft law On the Good Will Compensation to the Latvian Jewish Community for Real Estate Illegally Confiscated during Holocaust and Communist Totalitarian Regime was made by the Latvian government coalition party AP on Thursday, June 20, before the Saeima was about to decide, whether to pass the draft law for reviewing in parliamentary committees.

Read the full article here.

STATEMENT

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Latvian energy giant’s council suspended; members satisfied with accomplishments

The council of the Latvian state energy giant AS Latvenergo has been removed by Economy Minister over lack of productivity. Yet its members have stated they were satisfied with the achievements of their work.

Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro (KPV LV) removed the council of the state capital company on Wednesday, June 19. Nemiro thanked council members, who included an ex-banker and former and current heads of large state companies, for their work.

The minister, however, expressed the wish for Latvenergo’s council to work more actively and efficiently, especially in the lowering of the tariff of power distribution and in the company’s expansion to neighbouring markets.

Read the full article here.

POSITION

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis

Dombrovskis gives up MEP mandate to continue in European Commission

Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian politician having led in the European Parliament’s elections the list of New Unity, has decided to give up his mandate of a member of the European Parliament to continue in the European Commission for its remaining term.

The politician, a former prime minister of Latvia and currently the European Commission Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, was elected to as one of eight Latvian MEPs in May.

The governing coalition of Latvia has decided to nominate Valdis Dombrovskis for the post of a commissioner of the European Commission also in the next cabinet of the executive body of the European Union. The new cabinet of the European Commission will start its work in autumn, but the new composition of the European Parliament will convene in July.

Read the full article here.

WISHES

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

Latvian Prime Minister not to bend to budget appetite of extra EUR 600 million

For the Latvian state budget of 2020, the ministries have submitted requests exceeding the spending plans by 600 million euros, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš to Rīta Panorāma TV programme. The PM also expressed determination not to raise taxes.

The Latvian Prime Minister said in an interview on Wednesday, June 18, that earlier this week, funding requests of all ministries to the 2020 state budget have been summarised. The demands for combined additional 600 million euros came as no surprise to the head of government, as, according to him, the appetite of ministries has always been excessive.

Read the full article here.

CHANGE

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Andris Ameriks, member of Riga City Council and management member of the Freeport of Riga

Pay cut to major Latvian port board members approved by government

The salary of the board members of major Latvian ports has been cut by a quarter in a decision by the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

The Latvian Ministry of Transport stated that the decision was made on Tuesday, June 18, fulfilling the declared objectives of the cabinet of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

Regarding ports, these were the application to major ports of the principles of state capital company management of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, the increase of state influence on decision-making and a more efficient use of resources.

Read the full article here.


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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.

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.