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Riga’s budget revenue next year is projected at 431 million lats (615.7 million euros) and expenditures at 468 million lats, a deficit of 37 million lats is therefore planned in the budget for 2012, which will be covered with the Riga City Council’s savings, which will shrink to 25 million lats by the end of next year, Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) said, reports LETA. All municipal functions will be funded with the Riga budget’s revenue next year, and 37 million lats will be set aside for implementation of projects co-funded by the European Union’s structural funds and for investment programs, said Usakovs. Social affairs and education will remain the Riga budget’s priorities next year, which will be allotted 35 million lats and 11 million lats, respectively, from the city’s budget next year. The Riga City Council plans to spend more money on street repairs - 2.3 million lats altogether. The largest investment projects are reconstruction of the Riga 1st Hospital, whichwill be allotted 1.4 million lats, and reconstruction of the Ziemelblazma Culture Center, at 3.5 million lats. In addition, 550,000 lats will be paid for construction of the Dienvidu (Southern) Bridge for work done on credit.
Foreigners are continuing to buy up forests in Latvia, according to a Baltic Screen study based on the State Land Service’s data, reports Nozare.lv. Just a few years ago, foreigners were not in the vast majority among forest owners. Now they are, with foreign companies buying thousands of hectares of forest in Latvia over the past twelve months. The state-owned Latvian State Forests still remains the largest forest owner with a total area of forests of 1.6 million hectares. However, there are now only three local companies among the ten largest forest owners. Foreign companies also account for most new forest acquisitions over the past twelve months. Swedish company Bergvik Skog subsidiary Myrtillus added a total of 18,000 hectares to its forest holdings. Foran Real Estate, a company that belongs to Sweden’s SPP Livforsakring and Norway’s Storebrand Livsforsikring, increased its forest properties by 3,571 hectares last year. Riga municipal company Rigas mezi owns forests in a total area of 39,999 hectares, followed by Foran Real Estate with 37,571 hectares, Myrtillus with 37,509 hectares, Fragaria with 12,581 hectares, Sodra mezs with 8,188 hectares, Empetrum with 4,745 hectares, Ruda with 4,453 hectares, Meza fonds with 4,438 hectares, Latvijas Finieris mezs with 4,161 hectares, and Kursa MRU with 3,213 hectares.
For almost every fourth resident of Latvia, or 23 percent, the sad fact is that watching television is the favorite pastime, according to a survey carried out by the public relations company P.R.A.E., reports LETA. Thirteen percent also said that television was the best source of information. At the same time, 12 percent of respondents said that they never watch TV. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they spend three to five hours watching television every day; 12 percent mentioned five to seven hours, and 6 percent more than seven hours. One-third spend one to three hours watching TV, and 4 percent less than one hour a day. Altogether, 650 residents took part in the online poll, when they could get away from the idiot box.