«Latvian diaspora’s potential and knowledge are not used nearly enough for the development of the country’s national economy,» BNN was told by Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics presidents Inga Antane.
Investment instruments offered by the European Investment Bank are used too slowly in the development of Latvia’s transport infrastructure, as concluded in the discussion with Latvian diaspora, financial and economic experts about challenges in the field of transport and logistics in Latvia and Europe. «In Latvia, opportunities are used three times less often when compared with Lithuania and a hundred times less when compared with Poland,» notes BATL president.
The discussion involving finance industry professionals was organized in Luxembourg on Friday, 10 March, following an initiative from European Latvians Union in cooperation with Association Luxembourg-Latvia. This discussion was attended by representatives from companies like Luxembourg-based CargoLux, Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics, European Investment Bank and Latvian financial and economic specialists from different EU and private financial institutions.
Antane emphasizes that knowledge, experience and potential of Latvian professionals employed abroad has not been used sufficiently well in the interest of Latvia’s national economy up until now. Cooperation with experienced professionals, as well as cooperation with Latvian diaspora in economics, up until now has been carried out exclusively on paper.
«Roads are the blood vessels of the economy. Unfortunately, roads in Latvia are currently on the brink of ruin. The catastrophic state of roads presents a risk to cargo flow and because of that – losses to Latvia’s economy,» Antane notes.
She adds that it is necessary to think about creating new financial instruments or using existing ones more efficiently.
BATL has urged the Latvian government to set transport and logistics as economic priorities multiple times, but so far there has been no response, Antane says.
«Meanwhile, Luxembourg has put transport and logistics among its priority economic directions. University of Luxembourg has even created a special industry Master’s Degree programme. Latvia also has the opportunity to establish similar goals for the national economy and work on growing its national economy,» says BATL president.
Former Transport Ministry’s state secretary Vigo Ledzdins, who currently works in Luxembourg, also admits that «Latvia can be characterized as very stingy when it comes to transport infrastructure investments».
Participants of the discussion concluded that fiscal discipline arguments, procurement procedures that do not comply with EU requirements, lack of strategic political decisions on investments in infrastructure and addiction to EU grants are the factors that have prevented Latvia from combining EU funds and loans on timely infrastructure improvements and raise residents’ quality of life.
A look at internal work of CargoLux helped evaluate the strategy, risks and solutions associated with cargo transports, as well as discuss Latvia’s chances of entering the global multi-modal transport system in Baltic and Nordic region, Antane said.
This was the third regional meeting of finance industry professionals that was organized with help from European Latvians Union. The next forum is planned to take place in London this summer.