Activities in the area of legislation
Laws Returned to the Saeima for Repeat Consideration
During his term in office, President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers has returned 13 laws to the Saeima for secondary consideration.
Amendments to the law on budget and financial administration
On June 3, 2011, Latvian President Valdis Zatlers vetoed the law on budget and financial administration which the Saeima had approved on May 26 and returned it to Parliament for second consideration. This was done because of a ruling handed down by the Latvian Constitutional Court on November 25, 2010, Case No. 2010-06-01, which spoke to the independence of the budgets of constitutional institutions and the Ombudsman’s Office.
The ruling gave the Saeima six months to address the problems in the law, but consideration of the draft law occurred only in May of this month. This meant that the Saeima had a comparatively brief period of time during which to reach agreement on the draft law with the country’s constitutional institutions and the Ombudsman’s Office, making decisions before receiving the views of the Judicial Affairs Council.
The President received objections to the law from the National Audit Office, the Supreme Court and the Judicial Affairs Council, all of which said that the law which was adopted on May 26 does not ensure the implementation of the Constitutional Court ruling, also limiting the process of budget requests from constitutional institutions and the Ombudsman’s office. The Presidential Chancery organised a meeting to discuss the review of the law, and the meeting was attended by the national ombudsman and by a representative of the Constitutional Court.
The Supreme Court also argued that the law did not satisfy the principle of separation of powers and must be seen as inappropriate interference by the executive branch of government in the operations of the independent judicial branch.
President Zatlers has asked the Saeima to listen to the views of the Judicial Affairs Council and other relevant institutions as it takes a second look at the law.
Amendments to the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials
On June 17, 2010, in turn, the Saeima approved amendments to the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials. President Zatlers vetoed the law, and in his letter to the speaker of the Saeima, he wrote that he supports the idea that board chairpersons and board members of registered political parties and alliances must disclose their property status, because that will “promote openness in the work of political party leaders and a certain level of reporting in the eyes of the voters. It can also confirm whether officials of political parties are really operating in the interests of society.”
In approving the law, however, the Saeima did not take into account the fact that board members of political parties are not civil servants, and so their activities cannot be regulated by the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials. Neither did the Saeima provide for procedures where by these legal norms would be observed, thus failing to establish the responsibility of political party leaders for violations. MPs also did not approve appropriate regulations vis-a-vis the competence of supervisory institutions, which creates concerns about the legitimacy of the relevant processes. This was pointed out to the President by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.
While recognising the positive aspects of the goals which relate to the law in terms of ensuring the openness of the operations of political parties and alliances in the eyes of the public, the President also called on MPs to think about “improving the existing legal process of requiring open data about candidates, expanding the relevant regulations as necessary.” The President also called for a conceptual decision as to how the status of a government official is determined for members of political party boards, also thinking about amending the law on political parties so as to speak to the obligation of party leaders to declare their property status in accordance with procedures approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. MPs must also decide whether such regulations would apply to political parties and alliances which have not won the support of voters so as to ensure representative at the level of Parliament or local governments and, accordingly, have a possible effect on the decisions which officials take. The President also pointed out that the “aforementioned legal regulations will require amendments to other normative acts, as well as the establishment of an effective control mechanism.”
On September 30, 2010, the Saeima revisited the amendments to the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials and took the President’s objections into account.
The law on insolvency
In his second letter to Saeima Speaker Gundars Daudze about the veto of a law on insolvency which Parliament approved on June 17, President Zatlers wrote that a new process to regulate insolvency processes is very necessary. “The law must ensure commensurability among the interests, rights and responsibilities of all involved parties so as to help honest and faithful debtors who have experienced financial difficulties,” the President wrote. “At the same time, however, it must not be used on behalf of the selfish interests of dishonest persons. For that reason, it is necessary to differentiate between people whose debts relate only to their single family home and those who are so-called property speculators whose short-sighted economic activities have not served the interests of the national economy.”
In his letter, the President pointed out that the law offered equal legal regulations for people with debts measured in the hundreds of thousands of lats and those whose debt obligations are far lower and are meant only to satisfy the basic needs of debtors and their families. Secondly, MPs did not think about how the regulations in the new law would affect the national budget, the country’s economic activities, and the reinstatement of lending programmes as part of economic recovery as such. The President noted that a substantial proportion of delayed debt obligations at this time relates to lending institutions which are owned by the state, and so it is necessary to evaluate the fiscal effects which individuals who enter insolvency on the national budget. He argued that the Saeima did not take this into account when giving final approval to the law.
The next issue is that public and parliamentary debates about the new law were dominated by the issue of applying the law exclusively to the banking sector, with no thought given to the way in which the law would affect other economic sectors and companies which offer goods or services and have clients who owe them money. This includes utility companies and leasing companies. The regulations related to the insolvency of individuals, the President argued, must apply to everyone equally.
Fourth, the existing version of the law creates the risk that people who are involved in insolvency proceedings might be interested in disclosing as little income as possible in terms of dealing with the relevant debts. President Zatlers asked the Saeima to think about supplementing oversight in this area with a specific institution at the State Revenue Service or some other relevant agency. The President argued that if the law on insolvency offers certain relief for debtors, but does not increase the state’s ability to determine the true income of those who are involved in this process, that would create increased risks in relation to the country’s shadow economy.
Fifth, President Zatlers pointed out that the law will not help those individuals who have already entered the insolvency procedure. On the contrary, it will put them on unequal footing. Article 5 of the transitional rules of the law on insolvency says that debtors for whom legal protections and insolvency procedures began between January 1, 2008, and October 31, 2010, would face the existing norms of the law on insolvency and all other relevant normative acts, as opposed to the norms of the new law.
The President also argued that on second reading of the law, the Saeima received draft regulations on deadlines for repaying the debt of individuals which were prepared in close collaboration with the Latvian Association of Borrowers, the Latvian Association of Certified Insolvency Administrators, the Latvian Association of Commercial Banks, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Latvian Confederation of Employers, and the Council of Foreign Investors. Experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were also involved in the process. The proposal was approved on second reading by the Saeima, and all relevant parties confirmed publicly that the individual insolvency rules that were adopted on second reading were based on an all-encompassing, commensurate and professional discussion. Alas, the good rules were ignored on third reading, when MPs ignored the relevant parties and approved a proposal to edit the regulations for individual insolvency very substantially without any thought given to the consequences of the new rules.
The law on insolvency which was approved by the Saeima on June 7 said that the new regulations would take effect on November 1, 2010. Because this meant a period of nearly four months, the President felt that the law could be revisited and improved.
On July 26, the Saeima voted again on the law on insolvency, taking the President’s objections into account.
The law on the electronic mass media
Explaining why he has returned the law on the electronic mass media which was approved by Parliament on June 16 for repeat consideration, Latvian President Valdis Zatlers has argued that the regulations contained therein are incomplete, adding that on the day after the law was adopted, he began to receive objections against its content. The President has also noted that “during the third-reading consideration of the draft law on the electronic mass media, Parliament voted in favour of several proposals that had been rejected by the relevant committee, thus creating contradictions among several of the norms that are enshrined in the law.”
In asking that Parliament revisit the law, the President has focused on several specific issues. The first relates to norms aimed at strengthening the positions of the state language. The President: “The requirement that at least 40% of the European audiovisual programming that is broadcast between 7:00 PM and 11:00 PM be broadcast in Latvian must be applied both to the national and to the regional mass media. The amount of programming in the state language must include news broadcasts in the state language, and the relevant period of time should be extended by one hour – from 6:00 until 11:00 PM. That will mean equal requirements for Latvia’s largest and most influential mass media, encourage them to produce news broadcasts in the state language, and also strengthen the positions of the state language in the environment of the electronic mass media, as required by Section 4 of the Constitution and by the law on the state language, both of which make it clear that members of the Latvian nation have every right to receive information and a cultural arena in their own language.” The President also has noted that the electronic mass media form an important element of the linguistic environment and are an important factor in public integration. That is why a law that will help to ensure information and culture in the Latvian language that is focused on Latvia will serve the interests not just of Latvians, but also of all residents of Latvia, minorities included. This means that in pursuit of the interests of public integration, the important part of Latvia’s information and cultural space that are the electronic mass media must have a particularly supportive regime for the Latvian language, specifically identifying the minimal proportion of the Latvian language in total broadcasting hours.
Secondly, the President insists that there must be clear and unambiguous limitations on advertising time. In his letter to Parliament, he points out that the public mass media are financed from the national budget, and so there is reason to limit the amount of advertising that they broadcast. At the same time, however, “misunderstandings can be created by the application of Section 35.12 of the law, which does not link the concept of 10% of broadcasting time devoted to advertising to specific broadcasting hours. The problem is that the 10% could be linked to the total broadcasting day, not each broadcasting hour, thus meaning that advertising is not divided up equally across the broadcasting day, instead being presented in the most popular broadcasts and thus crippling the advertising market.” President Zatlers believes that the rules must be more precise and state that “the amount devoted to audiovisual commercials in the programming and broadcasts of the electronic mass media must not exceed 10% in each broadcasting hour. Furthermore, the limitations should also apply to the other electronic mass media if advertising is placed in programmes and broadcasts that are part of the national commission.”
Third, the President writes in his letter to Parliament that the law must ensure clearly defined rights for all national, regional and local mass media enterprises to compete over the best and economically most advantageous segment of the national commission. He insists that the current version of the law puts the issue of transferring part of the national commission to commercial broadcasting organisations entirely into the hands of the National Council of Electronic Mass Media Resources. The law also does not define the total costs that can be shifted to other national, regional and local electronic mass media enterprises to provide for the national commission. This issue, too, has been left entirely in the hands of the aforementioned council. What is necessary, says the President, is to amend the law to state that the council transfers a specific segment of the national commission to national, regional and local electronic mass media enterprises on a competitive basis. That will promote competition between the public media and the other national mass media enterprises to see which enterprises can implement the national commission at the highest level of quality and in the most efficient way in terms of costs.” This position is in line with the national concept for the development of the electronic public mass media between 2009 and 2011 that was prepared by the National Radio and Television Council.
The President has called on Parliament to revisit the law as quickly as possible, given that regulation of the operations of the electronic mass media has been delayed far too long, particularly given that Latvia has missed the deadline for implementing European Commission requirements on adapting Latvian norms with the directive on audiovisual mass media services without frontiers. The European Commission is expected to take a decision on launching procedures related to this violation in the next few weeks, and so Parliament can deal with the aforementioned issues and improve the law if MPs devote the greatest amount of attention and care to the issue. In conclusion, President Zatlers also says that work on improving the law should continue after it is considered for a second time and has taken effect.
Saeima revisited the law on electronic mass media on July 12, 2010. In the process of repeat consideration, the inaccuracies and contradictions that arose during the third-reading consideration were averted. A compromise was made related to the issue of strengthening the positions of the state language, determining that programming in state language will take up at least 40% of Europe’s audiovisual programming broadcast time both in national and regional media. The law revisited on July 12, 2010 obliges both national and regional media to ensure that at least 65% of their programs are in state language and such programs take up at least 65% of broadcast time. In this way the biggest and most influential electronic mass media enterprises in Latvia have similar obligations, developing of news broadcasts in state language is encouraged, as well as the positions of the state language in electronic mass media are strengthened. Saeima has taken into consideration President’s opinion that there must be clear and unambiguous limitations on advertising time.
President’s objections that the law must ensure clearly defined rights for all national, regional and local mass media enterprises to compete over the best and economically most advantageous segment of the national commission were not supported.
Repeating what was already given in the veto motivation paper of June 22, 2010, Valdis Zatlers repeatedly stressed on July 21, 2010 that the work on improving this law should continue after it is considered and has taken effect. There are still several important issues that are in need of an accurate legislator’s assessment, e.g., issues that are reviewed in the Opinion on the public electronic mass media legal adjustments in a democratic political system of the Presidential Commission on Constitutional Law. Representatives of media and experts also thought that there is necessity to continue improving the law.”
The law on insolvency
Writing to Saeima Speaker Gundars Daudze about the law on insolvency that was approved by Parliament on June 17, President Zatlers notes that new regulations related to insolvency are very much necessary: “The law should address the interests, rights and responsibilities of all involved parties so as to help honest and good-faith debtors who have found themselves in financial straits while avoiding a situation in which the regulations of the law are put to use by dishonest and selfish people. Parliament must differentiate between people whose debt obligations relate to their only family home and those who are known as real estate speculators and are people whose short-sighted economic operations in the past did not serve the interests of the national economy.”
The President asks Parliament to focus on the fact that the law that was approved on June 17 makes it possible to apply the same legal regulations to people with hundreds of thousands of lats in debt obligations and those whose debt obligations are far lower and relate to the basic needs of the debtor and his or her family.
Second, the President notes that in passing the law, MPs did not specify how the regulations would affect the national budget, economic activity in the country, and the overall situation with economic development and a return to lending operations. Of key important here, he writes, is that the proportion of delayed loan repayments is higher at those lending institutions which are owned by the Latvian state, and so it is necessary to take a careful look at the way in which the regulations related to individual insolvency will affect the national budget in fiscal terms. Parliament did not ascertain these facts before approving the law on final reading.
Third, discussions about the law in Parliament and in society focused entirely on the banking sector, with no thought given to how the law would affect all sectors of the economy and all enterprises engaging in the provision of goods and services which are owed money by individuals. This includes the providers of utility services and the people who sell products on the basis of leasing operations. The regulations which are in the law with respect to individual insolvency will apply to all of them.
Fourth, the law creates the risk that people who are involved in insolvency procedures might be interested in indicating as low a level of income as possible during the debt repayment period. The President asks, therefore, that Parliament consider the possibility that rules concerning the supervision of debtors might be supplemented with particularly careful monitoring by the State Revenue Service or another appropriate agency. Otherwise the law will ensure certain relief for debtors, but it will not improve the process of identifying the true income of such individuals. From the perspective of the national economy, this creates an increased risk in the area of the shadow economy.
Finally, the President has argued that the law will not ease the legal condition of those individuals who have already begun insolvency procedures; on the contrary, such people will face an unequal situation. Section 5 of the transition rules of the law mean that people who begin legal protection and insolvency processes between January 1, 2008, and October 31, 2010, are doing so on the basis of existing insolvency rules, not the new regulations.
President Zatlers also notes that on second reading, Parliament was asked to consider regulations concerning the terms of debt repayment plans for individuals which were developed in close co-operation with the Latvian Association of Borrowers, the Latvian Association of Certified Insolvency Process Administrators, the Latvian Association of Commercial Banks, the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Latvian Confederation of Employers, and the Council of Foreign Investors. Experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were also involved in preparing the regulations. On second reading, they were approved by Parliament. All involved parties confirmed publicly that the regulations on individual insolvency that were approved on second reading were drafted on the basis of discussions that were professional and took absolutely all relevant interests into account. This was a good thing, but the positive work did not continue on third reading, when all of a sudden the relevant commission approved a completely different set of regulations concerning individual insolvency without any thought given to the consequences thereof.
The law on insolvency that was approved by Parliament states that it is to take effect on November 1, 2010. Given the fact that this is a date that is more than four months in the distance, President Zatlers feels that Parliament has ample time to revisit the law and improve it.
On July 26, 2010, Parliament took the President's objections into account .
Amendments to the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials
In returning for secondary consideration the amendments to the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials which was approved by the Saeima on June 17, President Zatlers writes that he supports the requirement that the board chairpersons and board members of political parties and alliances thereof be required to submit transparent declarations as to their property situation, because “that will promote the transparency of work done by leaders of political parties and ensure a certain response to voters, also serving as confirmation of whether officials in political parties do or do not work on behalf of the public interest.”
At the same time, however, Parliament has ignored the fact that the status of the leaders and board members of political parties does not conform to the status of government officials, and regulations related to what such people do are not the competence of the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials. What’s more, Parliament did not identify a procedure to make sure that the new legal norms are observed. No sanctions have been identified for people who violate the new rules. There are no regulations vis-a-vis the competence of the oversight institutions, which may cause concerns about the legitimacy of the process. The President writes that he has been so advised by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.
President Zatlers believes that the goal of the amendments is a positive one in terms of ensuring greater transparency in the work of political parties and alliance thereof. Therefore, he calls on Parliament to “improve the existing legal element that is public information about candidates for public office, expanding existing regulations if necessary.” The President also feels that Parliament must take a conceptual decision on whether the board chairpersons and board members of political parties and alliances thereof should or should not be declared to be government officials. Parliament should also consider amendments to the law on political parties, which is where the obligation of party leaders to declare their property situation could be addressed via Cabinet of Ministers procedures. Parliament should also consider whether the regulations should be applied to political parties and alliance which have not won seats at the national or local government level and, therefore, have little or no effect on the decisions that are taken by government officials. “Implementation of the aforementioned regulations require amendments to other normative acts, as well as the establishment of an effective control mechanism,” the President has written.
On September 30, Parliament took the President's objections into account when reviewing amendments to the law on preventing conflicts of interest in the work of government officials.
On Amendments to the Law on Ports
After meetings with MPs from the Harmony Centre (SC) faction in the Saeima, representatives of the National Audit Office, people from the Latvian Competition Council, and representatives of business, President Valdis Zatlers has decided to veto amendments to the law on ports which Parliament approved on May 27 and return them for repeat consideration. The President did so on the basis of rights granted to him in Section 71 of the Latvian Constitution.
In his letter to the Speaker of the Saeima, President Zatlers asked MPs to revisit Section 4 of the amendments, which would add Subsection 10 to Section 7 of the existing law on ports. The President feels that the stated goal and the relevant solution in the proposed changes should be reconsidered.
“If the stated goal of the relevant norm was to make sure that Latvia’s ports, as strategic facilities, can operate under emergency situations or ones in which businesses are not able to ensure the performance of fundamentally important functions at ports, then I would like to ask the legislature to make the norms more precise so as to achieve the goal without creating an opportunity to reduce the economic competition among market participants and to limit the competitiveness of the ports themselves,” the President wrote. He also asked whether it is not possible to ensure port operations during emergency situations on the basis of existing norms such as Section 88 of the law on national governance. It says that management at ports does have the right to offer services related to port operations by engaging in commercial activities via the capital enterprise which management owns. This method of service provision does not create advantages for ports, more favourable circumstances vis-a-vis the corporate income tax, or a better situation in setting limits on tariffs in comparison to other enterprises at ports.
The President has also called on the Saeima to make more precise Section 2 of the amendments to the ports law, doing so on the basis of the real estate interests of the state and local governments, also taking into account the different legal statuses of different port management systems. In his letter, President Zatlers writes that “Section 2 of the amendments to the law on ports that were approved on May 27 speaks to adding Subsection 5 to Section 4 of the law on ports to say that port management has the right to erect buildings (structures) on land owned by the state or a local government that has been handed over to port management or on the land of any other legal entity or individual upon which personal servitude rights have been established, these buildings (structures) then being independent objects of ownership that are registered in the Land Book by the relevant port management structure. The point is that property rights may rest only with an individual or a legal entity with relevant judicial status. In line with Section 1.1 of the law on national governance, the status of a legal entity rests only with the Republic of Latvia (as the initial legal entity of public law) and for subordinate public entities. In the case of ports, such status rests exclusively with the Riga Ports Board and the Liepaja Special Economic Zone management structure.” President Zatlers argues that other port boards, which have been established by local governments, cannot have sovereign ownership rights to real estate. The President also has indicated that there should be a more all-encompassing evaluation of the status of port boards so that out-of-date norms in this area can be reviewed. Among other things, he argues, effective legal controls over the operations of port boards and the decisions that they take should be ensured. The President has asked the Saeima to find a way of addressing these issues.
Saeima, on July 12, 2010, repeatedly considering the law Amendments in the Law on Ports, took President’s objections into consideration.
The Law on Immigration
On March 12, 2010, President Valdis Zatlers sent amendments to the Law on Immigration which had been passed by Parliament on March 4 back to Parliament for secondary consideration.
President does not object to the legislative goal of using the aforementioned law to promote the attraction of new investments for the economic and financial system of the Republic of Latvia. The President has pointed out, however, that the greatest debates have swirled around the proposal to link the purchase of real estate to the right of a foreigner to request a temporary residence permit. This would be an unusual practice in the European Union, and so the President feels that a balanced look must be taken at the macroeconomic effects of such a plan – something that would help to make clear whether the new rules would have a positive effect on the Latvian economy.
The President has also learned from the country’s security services and mass media that the law on amending the immigration law that was approved on March 4, 2010, may create the risk of undesirable persons and finances of unclear origin appearing in Latvia, which is why he has asked Parliament to make sure that security institutions and the country’s agency which battles against money laundering have the resources that are needed to ensure that the requirements of the law are upheld if there is an increase in the number of people who are requesting a residence permit. The work of these institutions is of key importance in making sure on the basis of laws and normative acts that the immigration of a foreigner will not create any threats against national security or public order and security.
When deciding to send the new law back to Parliament for secondary consideration, the President concluded that the instructions that are given to the Cabinet of ministers in Sections 3.3, 22.3, 23.2, 32.2, 33.2, 34.1.9, 35.1.13, 36.1.4, and 40.1 have not been followed.
For that reason, the President wrote to the Prime Minister on March 18, asking him to produce information about why the instructions that were issued to the Cabinet of Ministers have not been followed, also asking him to make sure that the relevant Cabinet of Ministers regulations are approved.
Amendments to Latvia’s immigration law were debated for a second time by the Saeima on April 22, 2010, after the President vetoed the original amendments and sent them back for second consideration. After his objections were taken into account, the President proclaimed the law on May 12, 2010.
The Law on The Sale of Alcoholic Beverages
On March 5, 2010, President Valdis Zatlers sent amendments to the Lw on the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages which had been approved by Parliament on February 25 back to Parliament for secondary consideration.
The President asked MPs to take another look at whether their decision to amend Section 6.1 of the law to prohibit the retailing of alcoholic beverages on September 1 would truly achieve the goal that was stated by supporters of the amendment – keeping juveniles from accessing any alcoholic beverages whatsoever on the first day of school, as well as battling against the habit of some young people to drink. Second, the President called on MPs to open up the process to all interested parties, including relevant state and local government institutions that are charged with monitoring the sale of alcoholic beverages and ensuring public order. Third, the President pointed out that it is necessary to amend Latvia’s Administrative Code to ensure that when alcoholic beverages or tobacco products are sold to a minor, administrative liability must rest not only with the seller, but also with the legal entity which holds the relevant permit (license) for the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Amendments to the law on the sale of alcoholic beverages were debated for a second time by the Saeima on March 25, 2010, after the President vetoed the original amendments and sent them back for second consideration. After his objections were taken into account, the President proclaimed the law on April 14, 2010.
The Law on Public Procurement
On June 26, 2009, the President sent to the Saeima a law approved on June 18 of the same year – amendments to the law on public procurement – for secondary consideration.
The President objected to an element in the law which obliges people who file a complaint with the Procurement Supervision Bureau to pay a security fee, arguing that this was an unjustified limitation on the individual’s rights. In his letter to the Speaker of the Saeima, the President said that if the aim of the fee is to avoid pointless complaints, then the resource chosen was not in line with Section 92 of the Constitution, which speaks to the individual’s right to defend his or her rights and lawful interests. The right to dispute a procurement procedure before the Procurement Supervision Bureau, wrote the President, is a fundamentally important mechanism in preventing the misuse of state and local government resources, as well as lowering the risk of corruption in the spending of state budget resources. Petitioning the Procurement Supervision Bureau is the only effective resource in this regard, the President argued, and that must be made available without incommensurate financial obstacles. Furthermore, the law also allowed the Cabinet of Ministers to enjoy fairly broad authority in determining the amount of the fee, the method for paying it, and the instances in which the fee would be waived. Accordingly, it could not be clear whether the fee would be commensurate with the state fee that must be paid when appealing the decision of an institution before the country’s administrative courts, said the President.
The President also argued that the fee in and of itself would not guarantee a reduction in the number of unjustified complaints. He suggested that instead of implementing a fee, the law on public procurements should be amended to allow the Procurement Supervision Bureau simply to ignore obviously frivolous complaints.
The President has also called on the Saeima to tighten up rules related to the liability of those who violate the law in the field of public procurement.
The Law “Amendments to the Law on Alienation of Atate and Local Government Properties”
On September 26, 2008, the President sent to the Saeima a law approved on September 18 of the same year, “Amendments to the law on alienation of state and local government properties,” for secondary consideration. The President believes that the law creates substantial changes in existing legal regulations, because it eliminates the ability of the Cabinet of Ministers to specify the minimal value of a plot of land, does not specify transparent criteria for specifying the lowest possible value, and offers unacceptably broad freedom of action to those who implement the relevant legal norms.
The law on alienation of state and local government properties was given secondary consideration on October 30, 2008. Parliament took the President’s objections into account. The law took effect on November 14, 2008.
The Law “Amendments to the Law on the Civil Service”
On September 26, 2008, the President sent to the Saeima the law “Amendments to the Law on the Civil Service” for secondary consideration. The President believes that changes in the system of social guarantees for employees of the Civil Service must be implemented in solidarity with other groups in society, given the prevailing economic situation. The law has not yet been given secondary consideration.
The Law on Preventing Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism
On June 5, 2008, the Saeima approved a law on preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism. The aim was to implement requirements from European Parliament and Council Directive 2005/60/EC and European Commission Directive 2006/70/EC in national law. The President felt that the new law was perhaps not in full compliance with the directives, as well as international obligations to which Latvia was party. He furthermore felt that it contained several controversial proposals. The President decided to make use of his right to request a second consideration of the law, and he returned it to the Saeima on June 11, 2008.
The law on preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism was given second consideration on July 17, 2008, and the President’s arguments were taken into account. The law took effect on August 13, 2008.
Note: Upon returning the law for secondary consideration, the President argued that principles of commensurability and proportionality must be kept in mind when considering the ability of the government unit which seeks to prevent laundering of illegally obtained monies to extent the term of evaluating information about refraining from a transaction, because the goals of the law must be balanced out with limitations on personal rights. The Latvian Constitutional Court considered the issue of whether the concept “no longer than in 60 days’ time” in Section 32.3 of the law on preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism was in line with Section 105 of the Latvian Constitution. The court ruled that “the legislature had an opportunity to choose a procedure in which a government institution, not a private individual, takes responsibility for the long-lasting limitation of fundamental rights.” The court thus found that the norm was not constitutional and ruled that it would become invalid on January 1, 2010.
The Law "Amendments to the Law on the Public Integration Fund”
On March 20, 2008, the President returned to the Saeima a law adopted on March 13, 2008 – “Amendments to the Law on the Public Integration Fund.” Parliament has not yet given secondary consideration to this law. On December 16, 2010, members of Parliament gave first-round approval to amendments to the law on the Public Integration Fund, taking into account recommendations from President Valdis Zatlers that were aimed at ensuring the independence of the fund in its work and its taking of decisions. 87 MPs voted in favour of the motion. Second-reading proposals were accepted until January 10, 2011.
The Law “Amendments to the Law on the Border Guard”
On December 28, 2007, the President returned to the Saeima a law adopted on December 20, 2007, “Amendments to the Law on the Border Guard.” Secondary consideration of the law occurred on March 6, 2008.
The President objected to Section 46.1 of the new law, which speaks to other social guarantees for border guards. Parliament responded by adding new text to the law to allow border guards who are transferred from one location to another to have preference in terms of finding a slot for their children in preschool educational institutions.
The Saeima also voted in favour of the President’s proposal that social issues be addressed in the law on the service of staff of Interior Ministry systems and the Incarceration Board who hold special service levels. On March 6, 2008, the Saeima gave first-reading consideration to the said law to add Section 43.1 to it. Here again, an official who is transferred to a new location has preference in ensuring a slot for his or her children at a local preschool institution.
On May 8, 2008, the Saeima gave final-reading approval the law “Amendments to the Law on the service of staff of Interior Ministry institutions and the Incarceration Board who hold special service levels.” The law took effect on May 20 of the same year.
Information prepared by:
Presidential advisor on legal issues
June 3, 2011