Banks start to write off loans in earnest - newspaper 
RIGA, April 4 (NOZARE.LV) - Latvia's banks have begun to write off loans in earnest, for instance, Latvian Mortgage and Land bank has written off loans worth LVL 57 million, the newspaper "Dienas Bizness" reports today.

This amount includes LVL 14 million that the bank last year handed over to its subsidiary "Hipoteku bankas nekustama ipasuma agentura" (Mortgage Bank's Real Estate Agency), which deals with debt recovery and sale of foreclosed properties, explains the bank's head Rolands Panko.
Banking sector's profit at LVL 18.9 million at end-February 
RIGA, March 25 (NOZARE.LV) - Latvian banking sector was profitable in February for a second month in a row, and the sector's total profit for the first two months was LVL 18.9 million, as Financial and Capital Market Commission representative Anna Dravniece told the business portal "Nozare.lv".

Last February, Latvian banking sector's total losses stood at LVL 59.2 million.

This year, 15 Latvian banks and four foreign banks' branches, whose total share of the banking sector's assets is 81.1 percent, posted LVL 28.8 million in profit altogether.
Taxes could be reduced in 2013 - Dombrovskis 
RIGA, March 21 (NOZARE.LV) - Taxes in Latvia could be reduced in 2013, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) says in an interview with the newspaper "Biznes&Baltija".

Dombrovskis points out that in 2012 Latvia must meet Maastricht criteria, which envisage that budget deficit must not exceed three percent of gross domestic product, therefore no tax reductions are planned.

"2012 budget will be the last one to be consolidated. Stimulating measures will be carried out already in 2013," said Dombrovskis.

Budget consolidation necessary so Latvia could introduce euro - Dombrovskis 
RIGA, March 13 (LETA) - The planned consolidation of the 2011 state budget is not a goal in and of itself, but Latvia must keep in mind its resolution to meet the Maastricht criteria next year so the country could introduce the euro, as Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) said at a meeting of the political association Unity yesterday that was held to establish the association's Riga branch.

Nationwide population census begins today 
RIGA, March 1 (LETA) - Today, a nationwide census drive will begin throughout Latvia.

This is the first nationwide census carried out in the country since it joined the European Union.

The census will go on until May 31, during which information will be gathered on residents and their homes.

At 11 a.m., a press conference will be held at the "Avalon Hotel", during which Economy Minister Artis Kampars (Unity) and the Central Statistical Bureau's head Aija Zigure will inform about the census and its impact on the development of Latvia's economy.

It is planned that the results of the census will be summarized in 2012 and published in 2013.
Swedish prime minister emphasizes Nordic-Latvian cooperation opportunities 
RIGA, Feb 18 (LETA) - It is necessary to make use of Nordic-Latvian cooperation potential, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said today after a meeting with Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) in Riga.

Reinfeldt noted successful cooperation between Latvia and Sweden, and emphasized that Latvia is a serious and reliable partner. Reinfeldt went on to say that Sweden understands Latvia's current situation because it faced similar economic problems and painful decisions in the 1990s.

Reinfeldt highly appreciated what Latvia has done so far to overcome the crisis.
OSCE High Commissioner urges Latvia to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections 
RIGA, Feb 16 (LETA) - Today, during a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis (Unity), OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebek urged Latvia to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections.

Kristovskis in his turn pointed out that the rights to vote must belong to citizens and that a part of society does not want to vote or become citizens due to additional obligations towards the state. Kristovskis believes that if non-citizens will be granted the rights to vote in municipal elections, they will not be interested in naturalization.

Approximately LVL 1.22 billion paid out in pensions last year 
RIGA, Feb 4 (LETA) - Last year, approximately LVL 1.227 billion worth of pensions was paid out by the state, or 14.7 percent more when compared to 2009, Edite Olupe, head of the State Social Insurance Agency's Public Relations Department, told LETA.

Last year, the average pension in Latvia was LVL 182.39, compared to LVL 178.44 in 2009.

In 2010, there were also more people receiving pensions - 475,866, compared to 473,330 in 2009.
Vaskevics detained for EUR 50,000 bribery 
RIGA, Feb 1 (LETA) - Yesterday, Corruption Prevention Bureau (CPB) officers detained a high-ranking Finance Ministry official for bribing a State Revenue Service official. The latter was paid over EUR 50,000 to shirk his duties in control of contraband and tax paying, also to ignore wrongdoing on the part of others.

Even though the CPB does not reveal the suspect's identity, as sources imply LETA, he is long-time State Revenue Service and current Finance Ministry official, Vladimirs Vaskevics.

Two Jekabpils robbers are former police officers, third robber is from police response unit "Alfa"  
RIGA, Jan 25 (LETA) - Two persons detained this morning for armed robbery in a Jekabpils gaming hall are former State Police employees, who were previously suspended from their jobs in another criminal case, and a third detainee is an employee at the police response unit "Alfa", Interior Ministry's spokeswoman Gunta Skrebele informed LETA.

Official investigation will be carried out at the State Police's Zemgale Region Administration, where the two former police officers were employed.
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