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Sunday 19.01.2020 | Name days: Alnis, Andulis

Week in Lithuania: tax reduction for electric cars rejected, proposals on bigger excise duties, property taxes tabled

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

Last week, in Lithuania, the top news stories were significant tax proposals, as well as criticism from LGBTQ activists against Lithuanian PM and the killing of a famous diplomat’s mother.

Lithuania wants more time to take in refugees

Lithuania will ask for more time to meet its refugee resettlement quota – it has taken in only a half of the asylum seekers so far, and a half of these have already left the country, the online news site reported on Friday, October 11. Lithuania committed in 2015 to accept 1,105 asylum seekers under the EU’s refugee relocation mechanism, but later the quota was reduced to 1,077, with October 31, 2019 set as the deadline.

Read more on this: Most EU members against migrant quota system, Estonia against any relocation

Lithuania calls on NATO to send air defence measures

NATO should send air defence measures to Lithuania to protect the international battalion deployed there, Raimondas Karoblis, Lithuanian Minister of National defence said on Thursday, October 10. Germany leads the international NATO battalion deployed in Lithuania since 2017, with around 600 German troops stationed in Lithuania. Karoblis says air defence measures are necessary to, first of all, protect the troops serving within the battalion as Lithuania does not have necessary systems for that.

LGBT activists slam Lithuanian PM’s initiative

Lithuanian and Polish sexual minority organisations on Thursday, October 10, slammed Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ initiative to nominate Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party, for a top Lithuanian state award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great. LGBT organizations say Kaczynski, facing a parliament vote in Poland, is inciting hatred towards representatives of sexual minorities.

KN sets up subsidiary for LNG project in Brazil

Lithuania’s state-run oil and LNG terminals operator Klaipėdos Nafta has established a subsidiary company for its LNG terminal operator project in the Brazilian port of Acu. The subsidiary, named SGD SPB, was founded on October 9 with an authorised share capital of 25,000 euros and Klaipėdos Nafta CFO Jonas Lenksas as its CEO.  Orinta Barkauskaitė, head of communications at Klaipėdos Nafta, has confirmed that this is related to the company’s ongoing negotiations with Brazil’s Gas Natural Acu (GNA) on an operations and maintenance services agreement for a LNG terminal.

Mother of Lithuania’s ex-diplomat killed in car accident

The mother of Lithuania’s former diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas died when the car she was in hit a tree in Ukmergė, the online news site reported on Wednesday, October 9. The car was driven by Ušackas’ brother who was drunk at the time.  Based on preliminary police information, the 63-year-old driver lost control of his Honda CRV and hit a tree in the central Lithuanian town. The driver, who had 1.28 per mille of alcohol in his blood, was injured and taken to hospital.

Lithuania seeks transparency in politicians’ meetings

A Lithuanian parliamentary committee has proposed waiving the requirement for politicians to declare meetings with lobbyists. Previously, the Ministry of Justice had proposed making the president, members of the Seimas, ministers and vice ministers, government and ministerial chancellors, leader of political parties, mayors, councilors, administration directors and their deputies declare any lobbying activity they have been subjected to over every bill. They would be required to submit such reports to the Chief Commission of Official Ethics no later than over a period of seven days from the start of such lobbying activity.

Lithuania moves up to 39th place in WEF rankings

Lithuania has moved up one notch this year and came in 39th out of 141 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest competitiveness report. Out of 12 areas of assessment, Lithuania received the best score in terms of macroeconomic stability 1st place), and the use of information technology (12th). But the country had the worst performance in the areas of health (85th), in terms of the size of the market (76th place) and financial systems (75th place), Lithuania’s statistics office, Statistics Lithuania, said.

Seimas decides against VAT reduction for electric cars

The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday, October 8, rejected a proposal by a group of lawmakers to reduce VAT for new electric cars. The group had proposed introducing a reduced 9 per cent VAT rate for new electric cars worth over 35,000 euros. But 42 MPs voted for debating the proposed amendment, eight were against and 40 abstained. Petras Cimbaras, representing the Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania and the person behind the initiative, said it would help Lithuania to meet its EU commitments on climate change control.

Tibetan asks Lithuanian Seimas for mediation with China

A member of the Tibetan parliament in exile has asked members of the Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) to act as mediators in pursuit of dialogue between the Tibetans and China. Thubten Wangchen told members of the Lithuanian Seimas on Tuesday, October 8, that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist People’s Republic of China on Oct 1 means over six decades of torture, repressions and violations of human rights for the Tibetans. And now not only Tibet but also Hong Kong and Taiwan are also suffering from Chinese repressions, Wangchen said.

Lenience for ex-troops convicted for spying for Russia shown

The Court of Appeal of Lithuania on Tuesday, October 8, softened the punishment for two former troops found guilty of spying for Russia. Siauliai Regional Court earlier issued prison sentences of four years and nine months to Jurijus Mironovas and Kazimieras Rupšys but the Court of Appeal reduced the sentences to four years for Mironovas and to four years and six months for Rupšys. Judge Justas Numavičius of the Court of Appeal said the sentences were reduced after the court annulled the part of the regional court’s ruling that the convicts acted in an organised group.

Lithuania proposes to re-elect Leinarte to UN body

Lithuania proposes that Dalia Leinarte, professor at Vytautas Magnus University, be re-elected to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW.) Leinarte was first elected to CEDAW in 2012 and was approved for a second term in 2016. She became the committee’s vice-chairperson in 2015, and served as its chairperson between 2017 and 2018. In 2018, Apolitical, a global network of public servants, named her as one of the 100 most influential people in gender policy around the world.

Ministry moves to raise excise duties, expand property taxation

The Lithuanian Finance proposes to raise excise duties on strong alcohol, tobacco and fuel, and expand the taxation of households’ non-commercial real estate in a move that is expected to bring an additional 61.5 million euros into the state’s coffers next year.

Keywords: LGBTQ Lithuania taxes

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FKTK lists exceptions in which banks are allowed to service Aivars Lembergs

Latvian Finance and Capital Market Commission has listed cases in which Latvia’s finance market participants will be allowed to service Aivars Lembergs, who is subjected to US OFAC sanctions and accused of serious crimes, and three organizations associated with him – Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association.

Appropriate jobs promised for laid-off LDz workers

Latvian State Employment Agency promises to find appropriate jobs for laid-off Latvian Railway workers. If need be, those people will be provided the opportunity for re-qualification, raise their qualification or train for a new profession, as confirmed by the agency’s representative Signe Bierande.

Bordāns selects potential candidates to lead the Supreme Court and Prosecutor General’s office

I can see people who could take the reins over the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Supreme Court and change their work standards, Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told TV3 programme 900 seconds when asked about any potential candidates to lead those institutions.

Ukrainian Prime Minister ready quit after leaked voice recording

Ukrainian head of government Oleksiy Honcharuk has offered to resign following the circulation of an audio recording, where criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his knowledge in economy is voiced.

Inflation in Latvia reportedly higher than Europe’s and Eurozone’s in December

In December 2019 inflation in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union and Eurozone, according to information published by Eurostat on Friday, 17 January.

Estonian population growth continues in 2019 due to immigration

Estonia has registered in 2019 population growth for the fifth consecutive year and it can be explained with immigration not with natural growth, according to preliminary data released by Statistics Estonia.

BNN investigation | Raunas street property: quiet assistant with a «secret wallet» for Lembergs

There are suspicions that Aivars Lembergs, subjected to international sanctions, has sold real estate located on Raunas Street 27 in Riga to his sister «on paper only». This may have been done to avoid confiscation of properties in the event of a guilty verdict or a possible arrest over the real estate property. However, it is possible Lembergs maintains full control over this real estate property and, most likely, the property is used to fatten his wallet on a regular basis.

Audit: majority of Latvian housing stock has degraded to a state of a slum

Since the denationalization effective access to housing security in Latvia does not exist and most of the housing stock has degraded up to a state of a slum, as concluded by the Latvian State Audit.

Prime minister affirms possibility of carrying oil supplies for Belarus through Latvia

During his meeting with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on Thursday, 16 January, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš affirmed that oil supplies for Belarus may be possible using Latvia’s ports.

Rain in Australia provides relief to continuing fight against bushfires

In eastern Australia, which has been suffering in prolonged and disastrous bushfires, heavy rain has been falling for the past 24 hours.

Weather to remain warm in Latvia at week’s end

At the end of the week the sky in Latvia will become clear and the sun will shine. No precipitation is expected. However, a low atmospheric pressure area will approach the country from the west during weekends, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

GKR helps overthrow Riga’s vice-mayors and put an end to ruling coalition

Riga City Council vice-chairperson Anna Vladova and deputy Druvis Kleins lost their respective posts at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, 16 January. This happened because multiple deputies from Honour to Serve Riga voted together with the opposition in favour of dismissing them.

Latvian Railway plans to lay off 1 500 employees

Latvian Railway plans to terminate labour relations with approximately 1 500 employees before the end of 2020, as reported by the company’s representative Ella Pētermane.

Russian State Duma approves Putin’s new Prime Minister

The Russian State Duma has approved on Thursday, January 16, the candidacy of the country’s next Prime Minister appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ventspils opposition invites Pūce to act to prevent US sanctions from spreading to city council

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry and especially Juris Pūce have to act to resolve the current state of Ventsils City Council. It should be dismissed, as the municipal government does not have moral, ethical or legal foundation to continue managing and implementing the criminal management’s policy, according to Ventspils City Council opposition deputies.

Trade unions urge Latvian government to resolve transit businesses’ blocked bank accounts problem

Multiple trade unions associated with the transit industry have turned to Latvia’s highest ranking officials with a request to resolve the situation with bank accounts of multiple transit companies having been blocked because of US sanctions against Aivars Lembergs. If the government does not act, trade unions promise to organize massive protests.

Anris Leimanis picked as RB Rail council chairman

Anris Leimanis, independent council member from Latvian shareholder, has been picked as Rail Baltica joint Baltic company AS RB Rail council chairman. Ahti Kuningas and Karolis Sankovskis will serve as vice-chairmen, as confirmed by the company.

CSP: number of residents at risk of poverty declines in Latvia

In 2018 a total of 434 thousand persons or 22.9 % of the population of Latvia were at risk of poverty – 0.4 percentage points less than in 2017.

Latvian Saeima to ask Denmark to not extradite Kristīne Misāne to South African Republic

On Thursday, 16 January, Latvian Saeima made the decision to protect the rights of Latvian citizen Kristīnes Misāne, asking the Danish parliament and Danish law enforcers to support their Latvian colleagues and find a solution to avoid extraditing her to the South African Republic, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Smiltēns: Riga City Council’s situation can be described – divide, redistribute and plunder

«The situation in at Riga City Council can be described with three words – divide, redistribute, plunder,» said leader of Latvian Association of Regions Edvards Smiltēns in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 16 January.

One single vote left the Lithuanian election system intact

The understanding that Lithuania’s election system needs changes is nearly overwhelming, but the ruling Farmers and Greens’ attempt to lower the Parliament election threshold in parties’ multi-member constituency from current 5 per cent to 3 per cent suffered a setback this week.

Estonian power grid executive detained over bribery suspicion

The Estonian Internal Security Service has detained a board member of the Elektrilevi power grid operator over suspicion of taking a bribe.

Demographer: Latvia has the lowest birth rate level observed the past decade

Birth rates continued to decline in Latvia in 2019. The lowest level of the past decade was reached in the country last year, says demographer Ilmārs Mežs.

Healthcare Ministry proposes single social fees rate for specialized tax regimes

One percentage point social fee rate for healthcare will be applied not only to general tax regime participants but also those working in special tax regime, such as microenterprises, patent payers and royalty recipients, according to a proposal for Latvian Healthcare Ministry.

U.S. and China reach preliminary trade agreement

Easing the U.S.-China trade conflict the governments of the two countries have agreed on the first step of mutual trade reconciliation. Their disagreements have affected the world economy for the past few years.

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