BNN summary of the week: Electricity price. Holidays in Latvia. Changes in the police

The Christmas week in Latvia has started relatively calmly. Of course, the large volume of snow in Riga has brought certain concerns, as have the increasing electricity prices.
This week Latvia’s government announced plans to ease certain restrictions – all shops will be permitted to remain open on weekends and the upcoming holiday. On New Year’s night bars and entertainment venues will be allowed to remain open without a time limit.
The Chief of Latvia’s State Police Armands Ruks unveiled plans to rotate the top brass in the country’s state police.
Latvia’s Dairy Committee, however, reports news that are cause for concern for the country’s dairy industry: many companies are close to going bankrupt due to the increasing electricity prices, pressure from the pandemic and competition. The state, however, has yet to respond with any promises of financial aid.
BNN gives you a summery of the most relevant events of the past week in the following topics: Large bills; Changes in the police force; New Year’s celebration; Latvia’s countryside; Travel; Freight and Tragedy in the Philippines.
For five months 50% of housing benefit costs will be covered by the state in Latvia
Photo: UnsplashOn Wednesday, 22 December, Latvia’s Saeima passed amendments to the Law on the Suppression of Consequences of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection. These amendments state that from 1 January 2022 and until 31 May 2022 the state will be providing municipalities in Latvia grants to cover 50% of the actual costs of housing benefits.
Saeima deputies decided to make amendments urgent and viewed them in two readings in one meeting.
As previously reported by the Ministry of Welfare, this initiative will require EUR 16.7 million from the state budget.
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Latvian State Police to rotate some of its top brass
Photo: Lita Krone/LETAChief of Latvian State Police Armands Ruks has decided to perform rotations in the Economic Crimes Enforcement Department, Organised Crime Enforcement Department and Department of Criminology, as State Police confirm.
Ruks explains this decision «considering the need to ensure the fulfilment of strategically important daily and future tasks assigned to the structural units», as well as the fact that the current heads of those departments have been in their posts for a very long time.
After 1 January 2022 the chief of the Economic Crimes Enforcement Department Pēteris Bauska will be rotated to the position of chief of Organised Crime Enforcement Department until 5 December 2024.
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Latvian government permits bars and entertainment venues to work on New Year’s night
Photo: UnsplashLatvia, like Estonia, will lift the restrictions imposed on open hours for service providers and events for New Year’s night, as confirmed by the government on Tuesday, 21 December.
Amendments passed by the government to the order on the declaration of a state of emergency state that stores located in shopping malls will be able to open up for weekends and holiday. Amendments will come to force on Friday, 24 December.
Changes to the regulations governing activities of bars, restaurants and other culture and entertainment locations on New Year’s night from 23:00 to 06:00 were added, considering New Year’s celebration traditions.
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Latvian Dairy Committee: the situation in the industry is tragic
Photo: UnsplashBecause of the rising costs of raw materials and energy resources the situation in the dairy industry is currently tragic, as dairy companies are forced to work below operating costs and there is a risk of multiple businesses going bankrupt, admits the board chairman of Latvian Dairy Committee (LPCS) Jānis Šolks.
«It’s not just serious – it’s tragic,» he stresses. «The current situation is that the industry is in a deep and serious crisis, one which the government has yet to admit and understand despite our best efforts,» explains the chairman of LPCS.
He stresses that in the last couple of years – since the start of the pandemic – there have been several important developments, including an unexpectedly rapid increase of milk procurement prices. According to him, until now the milk procurement price was stable and predictable – about 30 cents per 1 kg. This has since changed, and the price is now 35.8 cents per 1 kg. Estimates presented by the committee suggest the milk procurement price will reach 38 cents per 1 kg in December and 40 cents next year.
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Travel in EU: Nine-month acceptance period adopted for digital Covid certificate
The checking of the EU digital Covid sertificate in Italy.Photo: SIPA/SCANPIXThe European Commission has adopted rules relating to the EU digital Covid certificate, establishing a binding acceptance period of 9 months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra-EU travel.
The EU’s executive body wrote in a press release on Tuesday, December 21, that a clear and uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates will guarantee that travel measures continue to be coordinated, as called for by the European Council following its latest meeting of 16 December 2021. The new rules will ensure restrictions are based on the best available scientific evidence as well as objective criteria.
So far, 807 million certificates were issued in the EU and now 60 countries and territories across five continents have joined the system.
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Expert: it would be a good idea for Latvia’s half-empty sea ports to take over Belaruskali freight
Photo: Edijs Pālens/LETAIt would be very economically beneficial for Latvia’s half-empty sea ports to take over Belaruskali freight from Lithuania. It would prove to be a good opportunity for our railway and sea ports to recover after the massive drop in freight, University of Latvia professor Dr. Sci. ing. Edvīns Karnītis comments to BNN.
At the same time, however, he adds that for Latvia this is no longer a purely economical issue – it has been made into a political one. «No one will look at this from an economical viewpoint, although they should. The prime minister has said on multiple occasions that we [Latvia] do not need a transit industry. It is only thanks to the energy crisis, that there has been an increase in coal freight and the transit sector has livened up a bit. On a political level, however, there are different obstacles being put in the way.»
«Will we want on a political level to take the potassium freight over? I’m not sure [that Latvia would go for this].»
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Philippine typhoon death toll reaches 375
A handout photo made available by the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines (OVP) shows damaged houses and debris in the typhoon devastated town of General Luna, Siargao island, Philippines, 19 December 2021. Photo: EPA/SCANPIXIn South-East Asia, the island nation of the Philippines has been hit by a powerful typhoon, which has brought devastation to many tropical areas and left at least 375 people dead, British public broadcaster BBC reports.
The storm called the supertyphoon Rai began on December 12, last week and has gradually subsided after bringing record-speed winds and devastation to the region, which is regularly battered by typhoons from the Pacific Ocean.
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