The most problematic factor for Latvia’s transit business is railway tariffs. In addition, according to latest surveys, tariffs in Latvia are the highest ones in Europe, notes President of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics Inga Antane. It means that there is something wrong with economic justification behind tariffs.
Antane notes that the situation in the transit business largely depends on the Transport Minister. «Railway tariffs should be reduced. The question is – how? Will it contribute to external or internal competition? It has to be a complex measure. It is also worth discussing a flexible railway infrastructure fee policy. In his last conversation, Transport Ministry’s state secretary Kaspars Ozolins admitted that the flexible tariff policy is a priority,» – explained the BATL president. European Commission’s latest report on the monitoring of the railway transport market was published recently. Data regarding Latvia’s railway transport costs are dramatic. Latvia has the highest infrastructure costs per railway kilometer in the European Union (EUR 9.97). Railway transport cost in Lithuania is EUR 7.14 and in Estonia – EUR 4.63.
«This puts economic justifications behind infrastructure costs in question. No one has tried to address this problem in Latvia in the past. In regard to reduction of costs, flexibility or changes, it would be worth discussing economic justification as well,» – said Antane.
She also notes that Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics mentioned during the meeting of the Investment Council, specifically the discussion regarding attraction of investments from China, that there is a lot that can be done in the search for new markets. Nevertheless, Rinkevics added that it is highly important to address the infrastructure matter. Foreign partners mention this problem as well. During visits of foreign business guests to Latvia, the matter of tariffs is the first one to be discussed. «I hope Transport Minister will attract new tariff development methods for the industry. It has to be done immediately,» – said the industry expert.
BATL management has submitted proposals for tariff equalization among ports. It is also necessary to change tariff calculation methods. There are multiple different methods for calculating tariffs. However, all of them have to be discussed in detail. «There are opportunities to do that, but we need political will to accomplish everything. We need to sit down and discuss matters with Transport Ministry and Public Utilities Commission. The problem is getting everyone together to talk. We have spoken with Ozolins about creating a work-group. Now I wait for the moment officials will start tackling this matter,» – said Antane.