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Saturday 19.08.2017 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta

Finance minister blocked SRS candidate Nikitins' approval to FCMC

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAlthough the personnel selection process for the approval of the new head of the State Revenue Service has defined a possible candidate, specifically high-rank official of the Bank of Latvia Andris Nikitins, his chances to win are reduced by the decision made by Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola to pick the best candidate among the other candidates.

A couple of months ago the finance minister refused to approve Nikitins as the deputy manager of the Finance and Capital Market Commission, as reported by De Facto programme. Because of that, it would be difficult to imagine Nikitins in the post of director general of SRS.

The SRS selection committee plans to find a new director general in the coming days. Only three of the original nineteen candidates remain in the game: insurance specialist Ilze Cirule, Deloite tax expert Kaspars Rumba and deputy manager of the Financial Stability Office of the Bank of Latvia Andris Nikitins. The last candidate is the one coalition politicians have reached an agreement on.

NIkitins’ advantage over other candidates is his experience. He worked as technical director in the Land Bank. He also worked as director general for Rīgas miesnieks and vice-president of Balta insurance association. He has been working in the Bank of Latvia for the past twelve years. Several months ago, Nikitin had a nasty run-in with the finance minister. He was proposed as a candidate for the post of deputy chairman of FCMC.

«Yes, I was proposed as a candidate. I was there when Rimsevics and [FCMC chairman] Putnins informed Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola about me as a candidate,» – Nikitin said. Only he was not offered the post in the end. «I don’t know if it was her who disagreed,» – he added.

Nikitins believes he lacked political support then. The head of SRS is approved by the government, not the Saeima. With that, the personnel selection committee has a much bigger say in the process. He lacks political backing, but he does have the Bank of Latvia behind him.

Although Nikitins’ CV does not mention experience working in the tax field, the candidate believes his experience is enough to lead SRS: «I would like to say my entire career is related to taxes. While working in Rīgas miesnieks I had to address matters related to taxes – making sure everything is done and paid correctly. The same can be said of my work in Balta».

Deloite official Kaspars Rumba has more experience working with taxes. «I work in a large consultancy company, and I am sufficiently socially active. I am elected in the National Strategy Council of the Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry. […] I have also actively worked in initiating different amendments to tax regulations. I have also been to [Saeima] Budget Committee and National Economy Committee to fight for matters important to the economy.»

Ilze Cirule has worked in insurance for many years. Until September 2016, she worked as the head of the finance division of Gjensidige Baltic. The company later underwent restructuring and the main office was relocated to Lithiuania. Because of optimization, Cirule lost her job.

Reizniece-Ozola denies that everything has already been decided: ‘In any case, I have no favourite among those people. I believe all of them have good chances.’

The minister does admit that although all candidates are evaluated by the committee, she still has the final say: «I believe the committee will make a decision on a single candidate. If multiple candidates are proposed, I am prepared to choose one from several.»

Unity, which has been in charge of SRS for years, and which had demonstrated its influence by blocking Inga Kolegova’s approval, now denies there being any political agreement about the management of SRS. One of the party’s leaders, Solvita Aboltina, sharply criticizes the search for the new head for SRS: «It is clear there is a lack of experience and professionalism. There is no other explanation, because neither the coalition nor any other backstage has any questions about the head of SRS.»

In the next couple of weeks, the Saeima will have to vote for Gunta Razane, candidate for the post of deputy chairman of FCMC. She is the wife of Latvia’s former ambassador to USA. Unity has already promised support. The National Alliance has yet to decide. Soon it will become clear how true the talks behind the scenes are in regards to Razane’s chances if Andris Nikitins is not chosen as the next head of SRS.


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