This summer, the state secretaries meeting addressed a concept prepared by Justice Ministry that provided for the construction of a State Land Service archive in Ventspils. The total estimated cost of this project was four million euros. Ventspils was chosen because it is prepared to provide the land for the project.
Other municipalities, however, are shocked about this, as they would have provided land for this project. But they were never asked in the first place.
Finance Ministry and Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre halted this project in August. The justification decided on at the meeting of state secretaries is based on poor calculations, does not comply with state interests, and neither the Land Service nor Justice Ministry can afford such a project, Nekā personīga programme of TV3 reports.
740 employees of the State Land service supervise land, structures, borders and cadastral value. The service has made countless decisions and plans over the years. All of them are on paper. The service is obligated to store them for all time. The necessity for a special archive has been topical for at least a decade. So far, however, other needs have always taken charge over this one.
Elita Baklane Ansberga was the head of the State Land Service until 18 August. The archive plan was a priority for her. A concept was developed at the beginning of 2016. This concept provided for relocating archives from all regional offices to a single place. All municipalities that have regional offices of the State Land Service were asked if they have a suitable location to establish an archive. Many municipalities answered. «I believe any municipal manager would want to have an archive that would employ intellectual people with stable wages on his territory. A project that would create 40 more jobs would be attractive to any municipality,» – comments Madona Council Chairman Andrejs Celapiters.
However, the State Land Service’s requirement were so specific, none of the interviewed municipalities could officer anything appropriate. This is where work with municipalities ended. However, the State Secretaries meeting viewed a concept submitted by Justice Ministry. This concept provided for a construction of a new building, as opposed to looking for an existing one. This new building would not be a mere archive for physical documents. It would also be a digitized centre. The project emphasized that the archive would be a great place for school excursions. It was also stated in the project that the building should be built specifically in Ventspils, because the municipality offered to provide the necessary land for it. Initially the council offered to construct the building and recover the costs with rent fees. Justice Ministry, however, was not prepared to take on such responsibilities. The State Land Service never asked other municipalities if they can provide land for this project. «There was information at the beginning of February. It was a request for offers. It was very detailed. The request was professionally developed and had technical parameters for the building. There was no mention of land,» – said the chairman of Madona Council.
Elita Baklane Ansberga left her post in summer. She now works as the head of Ventspils City Council’s Economics Department. Baklane Ansberga denies being offered this job thanks to her lobbying efforts of the archive construction concept in favour of Ventpils’ interests. «I left before the matters was carried further and decided upon. I always felt it was wrong for me to actively lobby this matter, seeing as how I am now looked at with suspicion. But because I believe it was one of the best options, I cannot feel ashamed of preparing it,» – she said.
Now that Baklane Ansberga no longer works in State Land Service, there is no longer any support for the Ventspils project.
The concept for the Ventspils archive was presented to the government by Justice Ministry’s state secretary Raivis Kronbergs. Now he claims he trusted Baklane Ansberga in this. He claims he had no idea the project would be so expensive and that other municipalities were not interviewed enough. ‘He came to me with the project in June, maybe earlier. She presented it, said she had considered all possibilities and that Ventpils was the only option. We did not support the project, said it is necessary to discuss the matter in more detail, ask for more documents and check if other municipalities have anything to offer. We also need the opinion of other ministries,» – said Kronbergs.
The concept has been halted for the time being. Finance Ministry and Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre have found errors and contradictions in it. For example, there is no reason to pick Ventspils specifically. It is also questioned that it will be possible to finish construction without additional financing from the state budget.