Latvija in brief - 2008-09-24

  • 2008-09-24
Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis rocked out with Paul Rodgers and legendary rock group Queen in Arena Riga on Sept. 19. Near the end of the concert, Godmanis took the stage and played the drums on the hit song "All Right Now," to fans' great approval. Godmanis is not a newcomer to the stage, having played the drums in his younger days and hosted a rock show on Radio SWH before being elected prime minister.

Latvia no longer ranks last among EU member states in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index put together by Transparency International. In 2008, Latvia has been given five points on the index, up from last year's 4.8 points, which means that corruption is still a problem in Latvia but at a "more moderate level," said Inese Voika, a representative of Latvia's Delna pro-transparency group. The CPI compares countries' levels of corruption and is based on various qualitative surveys and studies, which are conducted by international research, information or policy analysis organizations.

According to a recent survey the Children and Family Affairs Ministry suggests that Latvia's residents believe that the optimal number of children per family is two. The survey also showed that 23 percent of those surveyed would like to have three children if they could afford it, and 24 percent named four as the most preferable number. Forty-three percent of respondents said that the best age for a woman to give birth to her first child is between the ages of 20 and 24, while 37 percent said the first child should be born to women from the ages of 25 to 29, and 71 percent agreed that women needed offspring to achieve fulfilment in life. An overwhelming majority of 82 percent said that both parents were needed to fully ensure the child's development. A total of 72 percent of respondents in the poll accepted cohabitation out of wedlock, and 68 percent of respondents did not agree that marriage is an obsolete institution.

The minimum monthly wage is to be raised to 180 lats (257.60 euros) starting Jan. 1, 2009. At a meeting on Sept. 23, the government approved the Welfare Ministry's regulations on minimum monthly wage and minimum hourly rates, raising the minimum wage to 180 lats next year and the minimum hourly rate to 1.083 lats. The minimum monthly wage in Latvia is currently 160 lats, and the minimum hourly rate 0.962 lats. This amendment is slated to improve the standard of living for citizens with minimal income and to reduce corruption and illegal payments.

Latvian National police held six people from two organized gangs for illegal drug sales. Sintija Virse, the spokeswoman for Latvian National Police, told BNS that the Organized Crime Enforcement Department (ONAP) succeeded in stopping two related criminal gangs dealing in distribution of illegal drugs. Large amount of different narcotic substance was also found. In early September 2008 the personnel of ONAP held two individuals for sales of illegal drugs while committing a crime. Both men are aged 20 and 26 have previous criminal records. During the search, police found and held almost 10 grams of heroin. Continued investigation resulted in arrest of another 24 year-old gang member. The man was held at the site of committing the crime. During the search, a firearm with rounds and 42 grams of heroin, eight grams of cocaine and MDMA were found. All the detained gang members were arrested.