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Tuesday 22.08.2017 | Name days: Rudīte, Everts

Employees of Valsts nekustamie īpašumi are paid bonuses after the fire at Riga Castle

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOver the past one and a half years, Valsts nekustamie īpašumi has paid its employees nearly LVL 500,000 in bonuses.

Bonuses were also paid after the fire at Riga Castle last summer, as reported by De facto programme of LTV.

According to the programme, specialists of the State Fire and Rescue Service performed an inspection at Riga Castle in November 2009. This inspection revealed a total of 28 fire safety measure flaws. The attic’s wooden construction was not evaluated in regard to fire probability; cables used there were damaged and exposed. There were also other flaws uncovered. Valsts nekustamie īpašumi promised to fix these flaws during reconstruction of the castle.

However, reconstruction was significantly delayed by the fire that devastated the building a few months after the launch of reconstruction. Valsts nekustamie īpašumi was partially blamed for it. This is why the company’s bonus policy seems so surprising. It was later uncovered that employees of Valsts nekustamie īpašumi were paid bonuses after the fire.

Valsts nekustamie īpašumi Board member Jānis Valdmanis explains: ‘When SFRS was performing its inspection, we were in a situation the State Audit described in 2009. There was not proper management or proper property management.’

When asked about the ethical aspects of paying bonuses one month after the fire at Riga Flag, Vadmanis mentioned internal regulation: ‘Bonuses are paid to our employees in accordance with our internal motivation system. I believe there is no justification to blame and punish our employees by not paying them part of their wages because of the fire.’

Bonuses have become such a normal thing in the company that Valdmanis refers to them as part of the wage. This is true, bonuses are nearly impossible not to receive. This is shown by the fact that after the approval of the 2012 annual account, Board Chairman Baiba Strautmane and other Board members were paid bonuses equal to an average monthly wage (a total of LVL 7,198). This was done in spite of the fact that Board members had only been active for five months. Strautmane was in her post for a mere three months when the bonus was paid.

Ieva Braunfelde believes ‘the established bonus policy, which was harmonized with Finance Ministry, does not serve its main purpose – reward employees for special achievements.’ It was uncovered during State Audit’s inspection that every employee can receive two more salary amounts every year in the form of bonuses. After this was uncovered, the company decided to change this regulation. Finance Minister Andris Vilks says ‘work should be evaluated individually in regard to paying bonuses. Everything should be reasonably measured.’

But this is not the only flaw in VNĪ’s activites. Riga Castle is a good example, but not the only one with long-term flaws. After the inspection by State Audit in 2009, VNĪ has improved its regulations. However, changes have been made only on paper; they are not followed in the company’s day to day.

There is a serious lack of long-term planning in regard to more than 4,000 state owned properties and clear picture on their state. Also because of the lack of a long-term state real estate policy, nearly LVL 1.5 million were lost in different projects that never saw the light.


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