Dozens of construction businessmen involved in the Castle of Light project are shocked with irresponsible behaviour of state institutions and officials and their failure to fulfil their obligations upon completion of the project. Businessmen have stated this in a letter addressed to high-rank officials, including President Raimonds Vejonis, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, Finance Minister Janis Reirs and Culture Minister Dace Melnbarde.
One and a half year since completion of all work and approval of the building, the National Construction Companies Union still has not been paid EUR 4,812,951.69, which is the first portion of money intended to cover construction work, according to the contract, as reported by the National Association of Construction Companies.
«Up until now I have avoided making public statements in regard to payments of construction work carried out in the Castle of Light project, hoping that both sides will comply with the contract. In accordance with the order from Culture Ministry, NACC has realized the project for the construction of a new building for Latvia’s National Library. The state has since received numerous compliments for the building and events that have been hosted in it during Latvia’s presidency over the EU Council. This makes us happy, but the ministry should also act responsibly and finally conduct payments for the work we’ve done. For one and a half year we’ve been trying to resolve the matter with the payment through talks and correspondence. But we’ve yet to establish a dialogue. The project was completed in lines with strict rules of economy. Meanwhile, the state debt before builders has since reached EUR 13.6 million. We are now forced to turn to highest ranking officials of the country in order to publicly demand the state to take responsibility and carry out payments so that our workers can finally be paid in full for their work,» – explains Chairman of NACC Maris Saukans.
After completion of work and approval of the building, the state was supposed to pay the money that was held back during construction work back to NACC. At the end of the year, however, the state will also have to pay the other part – EUR 4.8 million. For the completion of the Castle of Light the State Treasury had reserved more than EUR 11.6 million at the beginning of the year. More than EUR 4 million of that amount were used to pay for different expenses that were not related to construction work. With that, the State Treasury has a serious deficit with payments for builders. Because the law that governs the realization of the National Library project provides for carrying out payments before 31 December, 2016, it is necessary to search for a solution and find the lacking funds in the 2016 budget, notes the businessman.
«Up until now, Culture Ministry, as the client, has tried to tie the decision to not carry out payments with inadequate complaints about the amount stated in the contract and its correction in accordance with deflation. Culture Ministry’s complaints about the payment’s size reduction due to deflation corrections are made void by the report of an independent expert that was invited by Culture Ministry itself. According to this report, Culture Ministry’s interpretation and additional reduction of the sum stated in the contract is unjustified. Culture Ministry’s behaviour creates risks for a possible increase of state expenses by nearly EUR 3 million,» – warns NACC, which has already compiled a plea to the court to recover the money. Nevertheless, NACC is prepared to call of this plan if officials come forth with a constructive approach to this matter.