EUR 7.9 million have been recognized as wasted funding in e-projects organized by different ministries, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. This means this money will have to be covered by Latvian taxpayers instead of structural funds.
In the previous planning period, EUR 137 million were allocated from European Union structural funds for Latvia’s state information system and electronic service development. A total of 63 projects were realized.
Inappropriate use of funding was noted in multiple projects. EU money was largely lost because of violations of procurement or competition regulations. This includes overly narrow opportunities for companies to take part in procurements, notes Central Finance and Contracting Agency.
Because of that, EUR 245,000 was lost in Economy Ministry’s Construction Information System project, which cost a total of EUR 3.2 million. On top of that, the end product has not received favourable reviews from consumers.
«The system is simply horrendous. It is so uncomfortable to use that even developers were forced to admit it,» – says Kekava Construction Office manager Inese Aizstrauta. The municipality only agreed to sign the use contract for the system when Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry threatened to consider dismissing the city council.
Now four e-health projects worth EUR 10 million are in the centre of attention.
Among the parties responsible for both projects was Datorzinību centrs. Its owner is former e-affairs minister, now associated president of the industry Signe Balina. According to her, neither project had clearly defined goals: «[Skolas.lv] was ordered by the ministry. The institution did not know what to do with projects and make decisions on how things should have been carried out. Some areas had leaders handling them and some did not. The state was never clear with what it wanted to do with all of that. The situation is similar with e-health.»
According to Balina, the problem with e-health project was that the project had been divided into several smaller ones. As one of the parties responsible for the project, Datorzinību centrs did what was asked of it.
CFLA director Anita Krumina explains that problems with skolas.lv project were noted in the planning and execution stages: «Skolas.lv project had experienced deviations from the schedule; nor was there sufficient quality secured during the development phase.»
Skolas.lv project is now being investigated by State Police. No real progress has been accomplished so far. There are no suspects.
Inbokss chairman Andris Grikis does not believe all e-projects were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, he admits that in certain cases «people who created those projects were not truly interested in creating convenient and accessible service for Latvian residents and the country’s healthcare system. I believe there are other motivations. […] Writing off as much money as possible and putting something together at the end.