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Wednesday 20.03.2019 | Name days: Made, Irbe
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Week in Lithuania. Watchdog: Simpsons might have negative effect on minors

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

This image released by FOX shows character Homer Simpson, from the animated series, “The Simpsons”

The Radio and Television Commission (RTCL) of Lithuania believes the popular American sitcom, The Simpsons, might be having negative impact on minors, thus, should be shown after 9 p.m. According to the watchdog, certain scenes involving the use of alcohol, polygamy promotion, and talks about sexual intercourse, could be detrimental to minors. The RTCL has asked the TV3 channel airing The Simpsons to provide explanations.

Parliament extends fall session until January 12

The Lithuanian parliament has extended its fall session until January 12. Newly-appointed ministers are expected to be sworn in during plenary sittings scheduled for January 11 and 12. Under the Constitution, the parliament’s fall session starts on September 10 and ends on December 23. If the session had not been extended, the Seimas would have had to hold a plenary sitting on Sunday, December 23, the day before Christmas Eve.

Parliament backs MRU-VGTU merger

The Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday, December 20, endorsed plans to merge Mykolas Romeris University with Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, with 84 votes in favour, no votes against and two abstentions. Earlier, the Lithuanian parliament backed the merger of Aleksandras Stulginskis University and the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences. In early December, lawmakers backed the government’s proposal to merge Siauliai and Vilnius Universities.

Seimas greenlights Lithuanian Railway’s overhaul

The Seimas of Lithuania (Parliament) on Thursday, December 20, backed plans for the overhaul of the state-run railways company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways), with 69 votes in favour and nine abstentions. Under the plan, instead of the railway company’s three existing directorates, including Passenger Transportation Directorate, Freight Transportation Directorate and the Railway Infrastructure Directorate, three separate enterprises will be established and Lietuvos Geležinkeliai will own their shares. Lietuvos Geležinkeliai will remain a solely state-owned company. Failure to overhaul the railway company would have caused Brussels’ punitive actions.

Presidents’ friendship encouraged to invest in Belarus

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), says the Lithuanian and Belarusian presidents’ friendship encouraged Agrokoncernas to invest in the neighbouring country, even though his business purchased a plant in the Brest region before Dalia Grybauskaite became president. Karbauskis’ comment came after the Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT) reported on Thursday that Agrokoncernas had owned a fertilizer plant in Belarus in 2008 to 2017. Agrokoncernas acquired a 50 per cent stake in Xoll Kemikal, the owner of the Belarusian fertilizer plant, in 2008 and signed a deal to buy another 30 per cent of shares at the end of that year, bringing its total shareholding to 83.22 per cent.

New referendum law allows more polling places abroad

The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Thursday, December 20, the new wording of the Law on Referendum that adjusts referendum organization procedures and allows more polling places abroad.

The new wording of the law, which was passed with 65 votes in favour, two against and 18 abstentions, is expected to come into force in January. Decisions on additional polling stations for a referendum will be made by the Foreign Ministry and will have to be approved by the Central Electoral Commission. Lithuania plans to hold a dual citizenship referendum on May 12 and May 26, 2019, in tandem with the first and second rounds of voting in the next presidential election.

President signs 2019 budget bill into law

President Dalia Grybauskaite on Thursday, December 20, signed into law a bill on next year’s central government and municipal budgets. The 2019 budget projects a total of 10.59 billion euros in central government budget revenue, including 1.922 billion euros in EU and other international financial support, and 11.706 billion euros in expenditure. This leaves a budget deficit of 1.106 billion euros. The ruling bloc says the planned cut in labour taxes will help increase incomes for all working Lithuanians and will encourage job creation, but critics warn that the reform will leave a hole in the state’s coffers that will affect public sector financing.

Minister regrets failure to stop Belarus’ N-plant project

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius regrets that Lithuania failed to stop the construction of the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, despite major efforts to torpedo the project. He said the project in Astravyets, just 50 kilometers from Vilnius, should have been stopped from the beginning. The chief diplomat also said he regretted that Lithuania did not have sufficient arguments to convince neighbouring countries not to buy electricity from the Astravyets plant. Belarus expects the plant’s first reactor unit to be ready for industrial power generation by late 2019 and the second unit to be operational by mid-2020.

Government to draft bill on freezing of Russian oligarchs’ assets

The government said on Wednesday, December 19, it will itself draft a bill providing a legal basis for freezing assets of Russian oligarchs and officials on Lithuania’s blacklist and restricting their economic and financial activities in the country. The Cabinet did not approve of similar amendments tabled by two opposition parties – the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) and the Liberal Movement. If the amendments were adopted, money kept in Lithuania-based banks and other financial assets would be frozen, and people and companies in Lithuania would be banned from doing business with blacklisted individuals.

Government nods to 3 PPP military base development projects

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, December 19, gave the go-ahead for the Defence Ministry to develop military bases in the city of Šiauliai and in the districts of Šilalė and Vilnius on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. A total of up to 165 million euros at net present value are planned to be allocated for the military bases, which will house three battalions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Negotiations with potential suppliers will be held at the turn of 2019 and 2020, with contracts to be signed in the fourth quarter of 2020.

President appoints culture minister

President Dalia Grybauskaitė on Tuesday, December 18, appointed Mindaugas Kvietkauskas as culture minister, the president’s press service said. Kvietkauskas, a 42-year-old poet and literary scholar, served as director of the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore between 2008 and 2018 and now holds the post of deputy director at the institute. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in early December announced his decision to replace the ministers for culture, education and environment, saying he wanted to give fresh impetus to reforms.

Parliament green-lights purchase of Klaipeda LNGT

The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, December 18, gave the green light for purchasing the Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal’s floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) by late 2024, when the lease contract with Norway’s Hoegh LNG ends. The Seimas passed the respective amendments to the Law on LNG Terminal in a vote of 99 to one with 17 abstentions. Following the approval from the Seimas, the terminal’s operating costs are to be reduced to 43 million euros per year, from the current 66 million euros. The terminal’s costs for the fertilizer manufacturer Achema, Lithuania’s single largest gas consumer, would go down by around 6 million euros annually.


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  1. Bart says:

    What? Worse than Putin?

Latvia’s 2020 budget draft sent to the parliament for first viewing

On Tuesday, 19 March, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported this year’s state budget project and decided to submit it to the parliament for its first viewing. The committee decided to submit 14 additional legislative drafts associated with the budget, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Minister: Latvia needs representatives in EP the country can be proud of

«Latvian voters should keep in mind that Latvia is represented by only eight members in the European Parliament. It is vital to find candidates we would not be ashamed of. There is no other recipe – if you want to affect the composition of the European Parliament, it is important to remember that results from votes. Nothing will change if we stand on the sidelines,» said Latvian Culture Minister and MEP candidate Dace Melbārde in an interview to BNN.

Rigvir medication distribution in Latvia halted temporarily

Bio-technology company Rigvir has decided to halt distribution of Rigvir medication in Latvia temporarily, as confirmed by Rigvir Group CEO Kristīne Jučkoviča.

Finance commission’s head says Latvia has too many banks for its small market

It is clear there are too many banks for Latvia’s domestic market, said chairman of Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēteris Putniņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 19 March.

Latvian residents become more optimistic about government’s work

In one month’s time Latvian residents’ opinion of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government has improved, according to data from SKDS study.

Dutch authorities arrest Utrecht tram shooter

According to Dutch authorities, the man who opened fire in a tram in Utrecht, killing three and injuring five, has been arrested.

Parliament: Latvian universities should be among 500 best in the world

Latvia’s leading universities have a clear vision for the future. It is topical for continued development of the country’s education and science sector.

Latvian minister to request police investigation in public transport company

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has finished its analysis of the audit performed in municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme. Soon the ministry plans to ask law enforcement institutions to provide their opinion on whether or not there had been fictive employment or other violations committed by the company, as reported by TV3 news.

Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.

Air temperature in Latvia to stay positive this week; more precipitation expected

Weather will be dominated by cyclone activity this week. Wind speed will also increase in the country’s western parts in the first half of the week. At the end of the week, air temperature to become chilly at night, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. N-plant invites bids for repository construction contract

Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which was shut down a decade ago and is now being decommissioned, invited bids for the construction of a 100-million-euro near surface repository for low and intermediate level short-lived radioactive waste.

BNN summary of the week: when is Brexit? Estonia’s government worries; more problems with Rīgas satiksme

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Attempt; Decision; Investigation; Scandal; Legislation; Expectation.

Suspect in criminal case leaves post in Alkom-Trans

SIA Alkom-Trans chairman Aleksandrs Krjačeks, who is a suspect in a criminal case regarding SIA Rīgas satiksme’s procurements, has decided to step down, according to information from Lursoft.

Eurostat: Latvia had higher annual inflation than average in EU and Eurozone

In February 2019, Latvia’s inflation was higher than the average in European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat on Friday, 15 March.

Harmony and New Harmony to compete for seats in European Parliament

Association of parties Alternative Party, which received only 0.34% support from voters in the recent Saeima elections, has decided to start in upcoming European Parliament elections with a new name – New Harmony, as reported by Latvijas Radio.

ABLV Bank’s liquidators recover assets worth EUR 37.938 million in February

In February 2019, liquidators of ABLV Bank had successfully recovered assets worth EUR 37.938 million, which is 21% less than a month prior, according to the annual account published in Latvian Herald.

Polish Catholic church reveals mass child sex abuse by clergy

The administration of the Polish Catholic Church has stated it has since 1990 registered child sex abuse affecting 625 underage victims by 382 clergymen. Poland's Catholic Church authorities revealed the data on Thursday, March 14.

Insurer: children receive 11% more injuries during school breaks

During school breaks the frequency at which children receive injuries is 11% higher when compared to the year’s average, according to data from BTA Baltic Insurance Company.