BNN summary of the week: Considerable bribe. Households’ income. Elon Musk Time’s person of the year

This week Latvia’s parliament discussed multiple notable topics. One of the most important topics for Latvia’s residents was using a driver’s license together with Covid-19 certificates. The Saeima decided to let residents use driver’s licence, student, pensioner or old age pension recipient IDs.
The parliament also made an important decision for the future of child adoption in Latvia.
The Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia also presented data regarding the income of households in the country. The good news is that income is on a rise. However, the gap between large and small income becomes bigger and bigger.
Riga City Council deputy Mārtiņš Kossovičs, meanwhile, reported having received a bribe offer – EUR 2.1 million. The corruption watchdog is on the case.
Time magazine picked its person of the year for 2021. It is businessman Elon Musk, who managed to become the wealthiest man on the planet. His company developed the Tesla electric car. He also owns SpaceX, which performs test flights in space.
BNN gives you a summery of the most relevant events of the past week in the following topics: Households’ income; No passport; Entering Jurmala; Rejected proposal; Vilnius airport; New Year’s in Estonia and Person of the Year.
Disposable income of households in Latvia is up, but so is income inequality
Photo: UnsplashCompared to 2019, household disposable income, increased by 8.1 % in 2020, reaching EUR 630 per household member monthly. Population income grew faster than in 2019, when it rose by 6.8 %.
Compared to other EU Member States6, income inequality in Latvia remained high. According to the latest available data, Latvia had the second highest Gini coefficient compared to other EU countries. In 2019, only Bulgaria had a higher rate (40 %). The quintile share ratio was the second highest in the EU. Only Bulgaria had a higher quintile share ratio in 2019 (8.0), while the situation was similar in Romania, where it was the same as in Latvia – 6.6, according to results of the survey conducted by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia in 2021.
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Latvian parliament permits residents to present driver’s license together with Covid-19 certificate
Photo: PixabayWhen presenting a valid Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate, residents in Latvia will be allowed to present a driver’s license, student ID, pensioner or old age pension recipient’s ID.
This is provided by amendments to the Law on the Management of the Spread of COVID-19 Infection passed by the Saeima in the final reading on Thursday, 16 December.
The law states that persons who are vaccinated for Covid-19, recovered from the infection or tested negative for the infection are to be issued with a certificate that proves their vaccination, recovery or negative test result. Until now residents in Latvia were expected to present their passport or ID card together with their Covid-19 certificate when visiting public places such as stores and public transports.
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Name of businessman who may have offered Riga City Council a bribe leaked
Igors Trubko in 2010. Photo: Ieva Čīka/LETALatvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has requested criminal prosecution of one Igors Trubko for alleged bribery attempt of Riga City Council’s Par!/Progresīvie faction leader Mārtiņš Kossovičs, according to information from LETA.
Board chairman of AS Rīgas Namu apsaimniekotājs Trubko denies having anything to do with this case. He claims he knows nothing of this case, adding that it should be clear from his income declaration that he does not have millions of euros to throw around on bribes. He also stresses the laws in Latvia do not allow the transfer of municipal property in concession.
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Latvian regional ministry halts legislative draft on year-round entry fee to Jurmala
Photo: Elizabete MežuleLatvia’s Ministry of Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Artūrs Toms Plešs signed the order on the halting of Jurmala City Council’s regulations regarding the increase of the entry fee and extension of its application from five months to a full calendar year, as confirmed by the ministry.
On 30 September Jurmala City Council deputies decided to make the city entry fee year-round from 1 April 2022. Additionally, deputies also decided to increase the fee to EUR 3 instead of the current EUR 2.
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Latvian parliament rejects opposition deputies’ proposal to temporarily reduce VAT for electricity
Photo: PexelsOn Thursday, 16 December, Latvia’s parliament rejected legislative drafts from two opposition deputies that provided for temporarily reducing value added tax (VAT) for electricity.
The Saeima rejected amendments prepared by the Union of Greens and Farmers to the Value Added Tax Law and amendments prepared by deputies of Republic and Independent Faction.
Union of Greens and Farmers proposed reducing VAT to 5% for electricity, transmission services, and mandatory procurement components in 2022.
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Vilnius Airport expected to accommodate 10 million passengers after reconstruction
Illustrative photo: PixabayThe reconstruction of the Vilnius Airport is nearing its end. The Lithuanian transport hub will sport a new runway and departure terminal, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT and Jonas Deveikis report.
The reconstruction of Vilnius Airport took three years to complete and cost more than 36 million euros. The works were the largest in history and included around 200,000 square metres of new pavement (equivalent to almost 500 basketball courts) and 76 kilometres of the electricity supply network.
After the reconstruction, the airport could serve up to 10 million passengers a year, with aircraft landing and taking off every three to five minutes, said Dainius Čiuplys, head of Operations and Infrastructure Department at Lithuanian Airports.
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Estonia to lift nightlife ban for New Year
Photo: PixabayEstonia will lift its epidemiological requirement for entertainment venues to close by 23:00 for the New Year’s Eve and the first night of the year 2022, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.
The measure was announced by Estonian Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab after the government passed it on Thursday, December 16. The exemption will begin from the evening of December 31 and will last until 6.00 a.m. on January 2.
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Time magazine picks US entrepreneur Musk as person of 2021
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo: REUTERS/SCANPIXAmerican news magazine Time has selected entrepreneur Elon Musk as its person of the year 2021 after he became the richest person in the world and his companies Tesla and SpaceX saw their prospects improving significantly.
According to the magazine, the start-up rocket company, SpaceX, headed by the Canadian-South African businessman has left Boeing and others behind to own America’s spacefaring future by winning a contract with American National Aeronautics and Space Administration the to take astronauts to the Moon.
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