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Wednesday 23.08.2017 | Name days: Valgudis, Ralfs, Vitālijs

Greens and Farmers Union to spend half-million euro on cranberry promotion

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

The joint stock company Super FM has won in a tender organized by the cooperative Ziemeļoga. The tender is supervised by the Rural Support Service and the allocated money is significant – 562 thousand euro, reports TV3 broadcast Nekā Personīga.

The sum is to be spent in informing Latvians via supermarket tasting campaigns, television channels, websites and newspapers about cranberries’ positive effects on health. «The idea is not bad, but facts show that the tender winner is closely related to the Greens and Farmers Union (GFU), whose minister is in charge of the Rural Support Service. Also, some items on the pricing list have been surcharged considerably,» according to Nekā Personīga observations.

Zandra Bralite is one of cranberry-growing enthusiasts. Last year, she applied for the European Union (EU) co-financed programme and her project was approved this summer. The project aims to expand cranberry plantings in Latvia by setting up new ones. It is also set to educate consumers that cranberries should be used for cardiovascular disease prevention.

The EU is to cover half of the project costs. 30 percent will be paid by the state, while the project applicant has to cover 20 percent of costs. Since in line with the EU regulations, Ziemeļoga is not eligible to implement the cranberry promotion project, another tender was announced. According to the Procurement Monitoring Bureau’s (PMB) website – the joint stock company Super FM won in the tender. The sum of the agreement totals over half a million euro.

Richard Zaks, the radio Super FM board member, has run in the elections from GFU’s list. Now he is the key person in the half-a million euro cranberries deal with Ziemeļoga. Zaks has donated GFU 900 lats. Another donation was concealed under the name of his 18-year-old step son Karlis Rubins. The boy was nothing alike his step father and admitted having donated 1 400 lats illegally.

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) made to repay the donation. Zaks himself tried to avoid an interview under the excuse that the agreement needed to be signed first. On Friday, when the contract was finally signed, he no longer had time.

Interestingly enough, also other persons affiliated with Super FM have donated to GFU – Dainis Kolobovs, Dainis Vizbelis and Ivo Baumanis. The party’s minister Janis Duklavs is responsible for Rural Support Service, which supported the cranberry tender.

Zaks stresses that the proposal to promote cranberries came from his acquaintances, not from the party. He claims that they are ready to advertise cranberries via whatever media.

What surprises the most is the fact that certain positions of the project are too expensive. Documents say that the project provides 10 TV materials, including in a broadcast for businessmen Vārds uzņēmējiem. The balance sheet shows that this will cost 8 000 euro (5 600 lats). While representatives of the broadcast point out that a five-minutes-long material costs mere 350 lats.

The difference is tenfold. Rural Support Service is trying to soothe the situation, saying that cash flow will be strictly monitored. Officials say that the project must be carried out. According to them, it is not going to be the very first project to promote various products with the help of European and Latvian funds.

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