Latvija in brief - 2011-06-02

  • 2011-06-01

Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs’ (Harmony Center) health situation continues to gradually improve, says his press secretary Anna Kononova, reports LETA. On May 30, the mayor awoke from the medication-induced coma. German doctors kept him in a deep sleep state in order to ensure intensive medical treatment. Shortly after, he expressed his gratitude on his Twitter account. “I am back. Thank you all for your support!” wrote Usakovs. Usakovs remains in the intensive care unit of Charite Clinic in Berlin. On May 22, he participated in the Nordea Riga Marathon’s half-marathon (21km) event, but collapsed not far from the finish line. The severe heat stroke and oxygen deficit that Usakovs suffered left their toll on his internal organs. German doctors said that Usakovs’ viscera - liver, kidney and other organs - have suffered from overheating; the treatment may last three to four weeks and cost several hundreds of thousands of euros.

Due to the heavy tax burden in Latvia, businesspeople are forced to become part of the shadow economy, according to an opinion survey carried out by the newspaper Bilance, reports Eighty percent of surveyed businesspeople believe that the shadow economy exists because companies want to survive and are forced to be part of the shadow economy. Thirty-seven percent believe that the share of shadow economy in Latvia exceeds 50 percent. Rimess board member Iveta Skutane emphasized that members of the business community are dissatisfied with state officials’ lack of professionalism, unwillingness to understand business needs, and the unstable and unpredictable tax policy. The share of the shadow economy grows due to state officials’ involvement in corruption schemes and networks, and non-transparent allocation of taxpayer money, which is detrimental to those paying taxes, said Skutane. Itella Information board chairman Aldis Greitans stressed that the shadow economy, together with unsuccessful tax, legislative and education policies, negatively affects competitiveness of honest companies.

Fifty-one percent of economically-active residents of Latvia do not support Andris Berzins (Union of Greens and Farmers) for president, according to a survey that TNS Latvia and LNT’s ‘900 sekundes’ carried out last month, reports LETA. Nine hundred Latvian residents were surveyed. Two candidates are vying for the top post - current President Valdis Zatlers and Berzins - the former Unibanka president, now Saeima member. Former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga is looking to grab her old post too, though she rejects a story that appeared in the daily Latvijas Avize on May 29, that she has met with Saeima groups. The daily reported that Vike-Freiberga had met with the head of Harmony Center’s Saeima group, Janis Urbanovics, to discuss the possibility of her once again becoming president. Urbanovics did not confirm or deny the meeting, but some of his colleagues confirmed that a meeting did take place. The presidential vote in Saeima will take place June 2.