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Tuesday 07.04.2020 | Name days: Helmuts, Zina, Zinaīda

Week in Lithuania: Conscription age lowered, Klaipėda port’s development plan approved, retail tax delayed

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Last week, in Lithuania, the key news stories were the lowering of the national conscription age, the approval of the development plan of the Klaipėda port and the delay of the retail tax.

Lithuania lowers military conscription age

The Lithuanian parliament has lowered this week the age range at which men are called up for mandatory military service to 18-23 years, from 19-26 years currently, and banned volunteer soldiers from holding seats in the parliament and municipal councils. Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis has said that the aim of lowering the conscription age is to ensure that conscripts’ military service causes the minimum possible disruption to their civilian lives.

Nausėda unhappy with a new EU funding

President Gitanas Nausėda presented Lithuania’s position on the bloc’s proposed next multiannual financial framework to European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn in Brussels on Thursday, December 12. Lithuania criticises the proposal to slash cohesion policy funding by around 27 per cent. Nausėda also criticised the European Commission’s proposal to increase direct payments to Lithuanian farmers from the current 181 euros per hectare of arable land to 204 euros by 2027, compared with the current EU average of 266 euros.

EU proposal not in Lithuania’s interest

The European Union’s plans to require that haulers return their trucks home at least every eight weeks is not in Lithuania’s interest, government representatives say. Vice Minister of Transport Gytis Mažeika said that the preliminary agreement on mandatory return every eight weeks is not in the interest of Lithuania. The agreement is not final and still needs approval of member states.

LFGU leader trusts PM Skvernelis

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, said this week he convinced that Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis will not establish a new party and that it won’t be easy for him to change the existing team for the upcoming general election. LFGU leader said he was convinced that the prime minister’s decision to register his presidential election campaign slogan «For the Homeland» does not mean he plans to establish a new political force.

Cabinet approves Klaipėda port’s general development plan

The Lithuanian Cabinet approved on Wednesday, December 11, a general development plan for the seaport of Klaipėda. The plan sets out strategic directions for the port’s development in the next 25 years, and specific solutions for the next 15 years that will help it remain competitive, respond promptly to changing market conditions and build the necessary infrastructure, the government said in a press release. Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič told the Cabinet that the plan was necessary for the port to expand and compete with neighbouring ports.

Lithuania needs to spend 14 bn euro on climate change

Lithuania will need to spend 14 billion euros over ten years to meet its climate change commitments, President Gitanas Nausėda said on Wednesday, December 11. The EU aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least by 40 per cent by 2030. The individual target set for Lithuania is to cut these emissions by 9 per cent. The main challenges Lithuania faces in meeting these commitments come from an increase in areas of arable land in the country and its old vehicle fleet.

MG Baltic wins court case against MP Bakas

Vilnius Regional Court on Tuesday, December 10, ruled that a court of lower instance justly ruled early this year that MP Vytautas Bakas did damage to the MG Baltic business group’s reputation when he likened the company to an organized criminal group and said it had caused damage to the state. According to the court of higher instance, although Bakas’ statements made last year are viewed as an opinion, the politician had to base them. However, the court did not award MG Baltic 20,000 euros as compensation for non-pecuniary damage, only ordering Bakas to cover legal costs of around 1,500 euros.

Seimas backs President’s proposals on blocking Astravyets power

The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday, December 10, gave its initial backing to President Gitanas Nausėda’s proposal on how to block electricity produced at the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus from entering Lithuania. The proposed amendments were backed by 88 lawmakers and two abstained.  In 2017, the Seimas recognized the Astravyets NPP as unsafe and posing threat to Lithuania’s national security, environment and public health.

Lithuania’s Alvora again wins GIPL construction tender

Lithuanian pipeline builder Alvora together with its partner Šiaulių Dujotiekiu Statyba has been once again announced the winner of the tender for the construction of the Lithuanian part of the Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL), which is worth almost 100 million euros and is of strategic importance for Lithuania. Gas pipeline construction company MT Group and its Polish partner Rafako came in second again after proposing building the gas pipeline for 84.985 million euros.

President hails Ukraine peace talks as positive

A four-way summit on Monday in the so-called Normandy Format was the first step towards achieving peace in Eastern Ukraine, despite persistent disagreements between Moscow and Kiev, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said on Tuesday, December 10. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, who became Ukraine’s leader in May, held their first face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the four-way summit in Paris.

Lithuania won’t impose new retail tax in January

The leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union admits that the proposed new turnover-based tax on major retailers will not be introduced in January as he expected. Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the party, said on Tuesday, December 10, that it will probably not be possible to pass that law as of January 1. Karbauskis said in late November that the new retail tax would take effect on January 1.

Vilnius airport’s Christmas tree catches global media attention

In an unusual way to remind travellers of what they are not allowed to bring on a plane, Vilnius Airport has erected a Christmas tree made of scissors, knives, toy guns and other confiscated items. The 1.5-meter Christmas tree put up in the airport’s departures area has caught attention from media outlets around the world, including the BBC, the France-based international news agency AFP, and the website of the US daily New York Post.

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Another month stuck home. Latvian government extends state of emergency

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75 reports on competition distortions reported to Competition Council in 2019

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Australia quashes child abuse convictions against cardinal Pell

A court in Australia has overturned child sex abuse convictions against cardinal George Pell after he was found guilty and received a prison term, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Education and Science Ministry considers not cancelling centralized exams

Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry considers the option to not cancel centralized exams, especially for 12th graders, as reported on Tuesday, 7 April, by Education Minister Ilga Šuplinska during a meeting with Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee.

Estonian government in two minds on cutting public spending to help economy

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Riga International Airport plans to lay off 500 employees

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Poland planning to hold presidential election as postal ballot

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COVID-19 update in Baltics. 548 infected in Latvia, 880 in Lithuania, 1 149 in Estonia

The total number of confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 548, increasing by six in the past day.

Latvian president urges not to sort idleness benefit recipients based on tax debts

When assessing whether or not a company meets requirements for idleness benefit eligibility, Latvia’s President Egils Levits urges the government to not sort them based on tax debts.

British PM Johnson treated from COVID-19 in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in London with his COVID-19 symptoms worsening as the outbreak is claiming more lives in the United Kingdom, British news portal The Guardian reports.

Riga City Council snap elections pushed back to 5 September

The ruling coalition in Latvia has agreed to push back Riga City Council snap elections to 5 September, as journalists were told by politicians after a meeting of ruling parties on Monday, 6 April.

US death toll of COVID-19 nears 11 000

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Prime Minister says Latvia will neither enhance nor relieve restrictions

We do not plan to enhance restrictive measures, but neither do we plan to relieve restrictions – the storm is not over. Nevertheless, we are on the correct path, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Spanish coronavirus death toll drops for fourth day in a row

In Spain, for the fourth day a row, the number of COVID-19 related deaths per day has decreased as the country has the most confirmed cases in infection in Europa, BBC reports.

Recovery from COVID-19 confirmed for 16 people in Latvia

So far 16 people in Latvia have made a successful recovery from COVID-19, as reported by Latvian Disease Prevention and Monitoring Centre (SPKC) Infectious Diseases Risk Analysis and Prevention Department director Jurijs Perevoščikovs at a press-conference on Monday, 6 April.

Kilometre-long freight train from China to pass through Latvia this week

This week a freight train pulling 100 containers forming a kilometre-long chain will pass through Latvia on its way from China to Kaliningrad Oblast, as BNN was told by Latvian Railway.

Design work commences across the entire Rail Baltica route in Latvia

Rail Baltica project management joint company RB Rail has signed two contracts on behalf of Latvia’s Transport Ministry for design and design supervision services on the remaining sections of Rail Baltica route in Latvia, as BNN was informed by the company.

Meduza: Head of Russian doctors’ organisation arrested during delivery of protective equipment to hospitals

The chairwoman of the Russian Doctors’ Alliance has been hit after being arrested by police as she was in a group of activists trying to deliver personal protection equipment to hospitals in the Novgorod region of Russia, Meduza news portal reports.

NEPLP wants 1.6 million euros for media to overcome COVID-19 crisis in Latvia

The National Electronic Mass Media Council has prepared historically the largest state support programme for electronic TV and radio to ensure uninterrupted production of domestic content and broadcasts during COVID-19 crisis. The volume of support is estimated at 1.6 million euros, as reported by NEPLP.

Estonian top virologist: Peak of COVID-19 will be flattened out

Estonian virologist Irja Lutsar, who is part of the Estonian government’s working group of COVID-19 has forecast that the peak point of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Estonia will be long, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

COVID-19 infection numbers in Baltics. 542 in Latvia, 843 in Lithuania and 1 108 in Estonia

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infection cases in Latvia has reached 542, increasing by nine new cases in a day. Lithuanian media, meanwhile, report 843 coronavirus infection cases.

Kazāks: the virus causes Latvia’s economy to drop 2-3 percentage points every month

Because of restrictions adopted to restrict the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Latvia’s economy drops 2-3 percentage points every month, said governor of the Bank of Latvia Mārtiņš Kazāks in an interview to Latvijas Radio on 6 April.

British Prime Minister hospitalised 10 days into coronavirus infection

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital ten days after receiving positive tests for COVID-19, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Universities in Latvia have no plans for entry exams if central exams are cancelled

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Number of COVID-19 infections increase in the 50 to 59 age group in Latvia

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