Given that the High Council (HC) meeting is just two months away from now, preparations for the event are rapidly moving forward. Work groups are busy in formulating their key messages that will be presented on 6th and 7th June while the FICIL Executive Board is drawing the big picture for the event that stems from the work groups.
Preparations for the High Council meeting – 6th and 7th June 2018
The key theme this year is “Building Trust”. Trust is an important aspect for the success of public policies and contributes to sustainable economic growth. The sub-themes will cover specific issues where FICIL sees the need for improving business environment and will include topics relating to labour availability and quality, digital performance and competitiveness, rule of law and economic crimes, energy and waste management, transport and logistics.
As in previous year, the HC will begin with an internal meeting on 6th June. The afternoon will be dedicated to a public panel discussion that will focus on Latvia’s digital performance and competitiveness and the rule of law and transparency. The discussion will be followed by a reception in the evening. On 7th of June (first half of the day) meeting with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers will take place.
FICIL office will be sending out the invitations to all the delegates for 22th High Council meeting shortly.
Updates form work groups
Given that work groups are working towards formulating recommendations for the Government, many of them are also reviewing existing Government initiatives and performing activities closely with public authorities and helping Government with external expertise to improve business environment’s attractiveness to investment.
FICIL has been intensively engaging in dialogue with the different leaders of the Higher Education System in Latvia. FICIL believes that ambitious targets and high positions in international rankings are reachable with efficient financing and governance model. Based on the work group recommendations, a proposal has been created to reform the governance model of universities, which could fundamentally change the way they are managed and can bring Latvian educational system to the next level. Following the meetings with the rectors and the Students Union of Latvia, the proposal was discussed in the Sustainable Development Committee at the Latvian Parliament on 28 March.
Labour Force issues
The group discussed in detail the issue regarding the shortage of workforce and possible solutions, including smart migration (covering both, high skilled and low skilled labour), re-emigration, education and re-education, regionalisation (importance of concentrating resources). Detailed recommendations will follow.
The key areas where important digitalisation issues for businesses are identified relate to e-services, e-identification, SMEs and their access to e-services, government capacity to integrate innovative solutions in the business environment. Another important aspect is the overall governance of digitalisation in Latvia – responsibility about the sector is spread out among several governmental bodies.
Energy and Waste management
Energy and Waste management work group is reviewing the proposals for beverage packaging deposit system. Among other topics – setting goals for national energy and climate action plan and long-term plan for renewable energy.
Tax Policy and Administration
Tax Policy and Administration work group is reviewing proposals from the State Revenue service – proposals to improve the white list (review incentives, introduce several levels in the system of white list) and information disclosure rights of the State Revenue Service. The reasoning behind both proposals is good however the details need to be worked out. Work group decided to work closely with the State Revenue Service to improve both proposals.
Transport work group is looking at the Indicative railway infrastructure development plan for 2018-2022 prepared by the Ministry of Transport and to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. FICIL’s priority is promotion of long-term contract setting between the Latvian Railways and industry players (tariffs set for longer term without significant unplanned increase).
Economic and Financial crime issues
The work group has been actively contributing to legislative proposals for the Insolvency Law and the Civil Procedure Law. Both Laws are being discussed in the Parliament and FICIL will follow closely the process to ensure that business interests are taken into account. The co-chair of the work group is also actively involved in the Whistle-blowers task force setting.
Meeting with EU Commission on Semester report
The delegation from EU Commission visited Latvia to discuss the draft of Semester report for Latvia. From the consultation process with stakeholders, country specific recommendations will be drafted and published in May. The members from FICIL Digitalisation, Education, Labour issues and Economic and Financial crime issues work groups represented FICIL position to the representatives of EU Commission.
OECD 3rd visit to Latvia
The Latvian Court Administration within the project “Justice for growth” organized the third OECD visit to Latvia. Items discussed during the visit included improvements in legislative process and e-government strategy. FICIL leaders from Investment protection and Court efficiency and Digitalisation work groups were there to represent FICIL opinion.