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Friday 15.11.2019 | Name days: Undīne, Leopolds, Unda

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

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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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Lithuania set to expand residential real estate tax payers’ base

With the economy prospects for the new year looking bleaker, the Lithuanian government is scrambling to find new ways to prevent a looming drought of state coffers. The Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has revisited this week the idea of taxing polluting cars, real estate and bank assets.

Estonian skiing ex-coach convicted of doping facilitation

A court in Estonia has found Mati Alaver, a former national skiing coach, guilty of doping facilitation and convicted him to probation.

Tourist upturn in Latvian accommodations reaches 2.27 million in 2019

1.03 million foreign and Latvian visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments Q3 2019, which is 0.5 % more than Q3 2018. Compared to corresponding period of the previous year, the number of nights spent by visitors increased by 1.5 %.

Central Election Commission permits signature collection for Seaima’s dismissal

On Thursday, 14 November, Latvia’s Central Election Commission registered a signature collection process initiated by Varu Latijas Tautai and Centre Party for the dismissal of the 13th Saeima.

Corruption watchdog once again punishes VID officials for illegal information acquisition

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has once again punished officials of the State Revenue Service who were caught illegally acquiring information from systems.

Saeima decides: unemployment benefit to be paid for eight, not nine months

From 2020 onward unemployment status will be provided and benefits paid for eight months instead of nine, BNN was told by Saeima’s press-service.

Lithuania pushes for NATO ally involvement in EU defence projects

Lithuanian National Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis has emphasised that European Union’s defence projects should be open to NATO allies from outside the EU to join in.

Healthcare trade unions to decide on future protests in Latvia

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers council plans to decide on future protests on Tuesday, 19 November, as confirmed by the trade union.

Estonia registers lowest unemployment in century

The unemployment rate in the century-long history of Estonia has dropped in third quarter of the year to a record low of 3.9%, the country’s official statistics show.

Minister: suspicious interest for Latvia’s military objects considered medium-high

The level of suspicious interest of foreign people for Latvia’s military objects using different research methods, including drones, is considered medium-high, says Latvia’s Defence Minister Artis Pabriks.

Tusk encourages pro-EU Britons not to give up

The United Kingdom is in a month’s time holding its early parliamentary election. The outgoing chairman of the EU’s European Council, Donald Tusk has said indirectly that the country’s divorce from the bloc can still be reversed.

Contraband cigarettes found stashed in cars with forged diplomatic registration plates

State Revenue Service Tax and Customs Police found a large number of contraband cigarettes in vehicles bearing forged diplomatic registration plates, VID reports.

Supreme Court keeps ban on new construction contracts for JRT in force

On Wednesday, 13 November, Latvia’s Supreme Court of Justice decided to reject the protest submitted by the Office of the Prosecutor General in regards to the ruling on approving construction company ReRe Būve 1 plea against State Real Estate, in which the company managed to secure a prohibition for VNI to sign new construction contracts with third party companies on work associated with New Riga Theatre.

Israel and Gaza start truce after two days of deadly violence

In the Middle East, after two days of military attacks between Israel and Palestinian militants that has left 32 people dead, a ceasefire has come into force, according to Egyptian, UN and militant representatives.

Saeima spends 14 hours debating on legislative drafts for next year’s budget

On the first day of Saeima’s debates about the state budget for 2020 and accompanying legislative drafts deputies spent 14 hours discussing a small number of drafts. In the end, the decision was made to take a break and return to decision-making on Thursday, 14 November.

Municipalities to receive 5% instead of 25% from gambling tax revenue

On Wednesday, 13 November, Latvia’s Saeima approved amendments in the final reading to the Law on Lotteries and Gambling Fee and Tax. Amendments include a new proportion for the division of the aforementioned tax between the state and municipal budgets.

Video: Venice affected by highest flood waters since 1966

In Italy’s picturesque Venice, the water level has risen by 1.87 metres. Two people have died during the floods.

OECD: Lithuanians, among rich nations, having highest alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption in Lithuania is the highest compared to other 43 countries in the world, found the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, also referred to as the «rich-nations club».

Minimal pensions to increase in Latvia next year

On Wednesday, 13 November, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the State Pensions Law. These amendments provide for increasing minimal retirement pension amounts in 2020.

Environment Ministry refuses to approve new waste management regulations in Riga

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has decided not to approve Riga City Council’s binding rules on waste management in the capital city, as confirmed by Riga City Council Housing and Environment Department’s Office for Environment head Evija Piņķe.

Harmony wants Honour to Serve Riga to cease working with independent deputies

Harmony political party may agree to continue working in the coalition of Riga City Council under the condition Honour to Serve Riga terminates cooperation with the Independent Deputies Faction, said vice-chairperson of Riga City Council Anna Vladova after meeting with Harmony’s faction on Wednesday, 13 November.

No legalisation. Estonia rejects calls for taking cannabis market in state’s hands

Over 1 000 activists in Estonia have signed a proposal for the state to tax and enforce its control over the illegal market of cannabis, by legalising it. Yet, legislators have not welcomed the idea citing health damage from the substance.

Elenger starts supplying Latvia with natural gas from Klaipeda terminal

Estonian Eesti Gaas subsidiary SIA EG Energija, which operates under Elenger brand, has commenced supplying Latvia with gas from Klaipeda floating gas terminal, as reported by Elenger Latvija board member Dāvis Skulte.

Harmony’s head promises constant control over party’s Riga City Council faction

The chairman of Harmony political party, Saeima deputy Jānis Urbanovičs promises to constantly control the party’s faction in Riga City Council. He wants certainty over the party’s ability to work.

Estonian minister’s actions to be investigated, says PM Ratas

Estonian ruling coalition has agreed that its Minister of Rural Affairs has to be investigated, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has stated. The current situation is over alleged links to a conflict of interest involving farming subsidies,