Saeima fast-tracks aid for fish canneries

Latvia's parliament, the Saeima, on Thursday gave quick-fire backing to measures designed to save fish canneries from ruin following the imposition of a Russian embargo on their products.

Lawmakers passed in the second and final reading draft amendments to the law on taxes and duties granting tax rebates to Latvia's fish canneries affected by Russia's ban on fish product imports.

The bill was passed in a fast-track procedure in two readings on Thursday, reported the BNS newswire.

Authors of the bill said that after banning imports of some food products last year, Russian authorities imposed a new ban on canned fish products from Latvia on June 4.

The parliament also approved a provision allowing the grant of tax rebates to the affected companies for one more year.

According to the Latvian State Revenue Service's data, 19 taxpayers in Latvia have been exporting their fish products and seafood to Russia.

The Russian food safety authority, Rosselkhoznadzor, has banned import of fish and fish products from Estonia and Latvia from June 4. The ban has dealt a heavy blow to Latvian fish canneries and several companies might go bankrupt.

Rosselkhoznadzor cited high levels of chemicals as the reason for the ban, but their decisions on food safety have a tendency to follow the political temperature in the Kremlin rather closely.

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