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Latvija in brief - 2013-01-24

Jan 23, 2013

Amendments to the Civil Law were submitted to the parliament on Jan. 22, stipulating that lenders must not demand disproportionate amounts from borrowers who take out the so-called ‘quick loans,’ reports LETA. Residents increasingly more often take out ‘quick loans’ - small amounts at annual rates exceeding 50 percent, but if they fail to pay them on time, the total amount they have to return to the lender may substantially exceed the original amount. Currently, lenders may claim that borrowers pay interest, late payment penalties and contractual penalties, which is disproportionate, notes one of the authors of the amendments, Saeima member Andrejs Judins. Hence the motion limiting the lenders’ right to impose disproportionate penalties on borrowers.  The amendments also propose that disproportionate interest rates be deemed unlawful. Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Association of Commercial Banks of Latvia, Financial and Capital Market Commission, Procurement Monitoring Bureau, University of Latvia faculties and attorneys at law have expressed support for the amendments.

30.9 percent of Latvian residents were severely materially deprived in 2011, the second highest share across the European Union, according to data from the EU statistical office Eurostat, reports LETA. The share of severely materially deprived persons in Latvia has increased by nearly 10 percent since 2009. 21.9 percent of Latvian residents experienced severe material deprivation in 2009. Bulgaria recorded the highest share of severely materially deprived persons in 2011, at 43.6 percent. 18.5 percent of Lithuanian residents experienced severe material deprivation in 2011, the fifth highest share in the EU. In Estonia, the share of severely materially deprived residents amounted to 8.7 percent, close to the bloc’s average figure. The lowest share of severely materially deprived persons was registered in Luxembourg with 1.2 percent. Overall, 8.8 percent in the EU and 6.1 percent in the eurozone were severely materially deprived in 2011.

The Latvian Navy and Coast Guard rescued 41 persons last year, according to information from the National Armed Forces, reports LETA. Last year, Latvian Air Force helicopters were involved in nine evacuation missions, in cooperation with the Emergency Services, transporting critically ill or injured persons from the regions to medical establishments in Riga. Also in 2012, eight missing persons were found in search operations after the involvement of the Home Guard and State Police. There were a total of 24 search requests for missing persons last year. urthermore, armed forces divisions neutralized 7,063 explosive devices and 9,681 munitions shells in 2012, with another 40 sea mines located and neutralized. The Latvian Navy and Coast Guard participated in 48 search and rescue mission at sea last year, rescuing a total of 41 persons.

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