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Sunday 24.09.2017 | Name days: Agris, Agrita
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Latvia could miss EU funding for road repairs

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Аuthor: Edijs Pālens/LETALatvia’s ruined roads, something residents of Vecpiebalga recently especially loudly reminded the government about, could experience another unpleasant turn of events. The hopes to be able to continue repairing the roads using funding provided by the EU may not be supported by the European Commission (EC).

The EC is dissatisfied with the fact that the state does not invest its own money in road restoration. Informal discussions regarding the next period’s funding have become the hot topic #1. This can be concluded from the words of Finance Ministry’s State Secretary Armands Eberhards and that of Transport Ministry’s State Secretary Ilze Aleksandrovica, De Facto programme of LTV reports.

According to the programme, Latvia plans to solve the road problem at the expense of European funds. It is hoped to allocate nearly half a billion LVL from the total available amount of 3 billion LVL for 2014 – 2020.

The amount planned to spend on mail highways would be 245 million LVL; regional roads – 166 million LVL; local roads – 51 million LVL.

However, the EC plans to stop this practice. “Admittedly, Europe has been largely sceptical about the idea of investing in roads for a long time”, – Aleksandrovica admits. She believes Latvia has to protect its interests in this regard. The EC, according to her, does not oppose the initiative to invest EU money in the development of important highways. Nevertheless, the organization believes the state should invest its own money in the development of regional roads.

The railway is a priority for the EC. This is also clearly stated in the document sent to Latvia by the EC, suggesting to plan further expenses accordingly. According to the document, Latvia should concentrate on the railway sector, especially on the Rail Baltica project.

Latvia has been partially following this recommendation – a significant amount of funds is planned to be invested in Latvia’s railway. However, Rail Baltica is not mentioned among the top priorities. It is hoped that it will be possible to finance this project using funds from the EU.

Aleksandrovica explains that Latvia and other Baltic states are certain that Rail Baltica cannot be financed from the base package from the Cohesion Fund.

Seeing as how the risk of not receiving funding for road maintenance is high, Latvia even promises the EC to invest money state budget money – nearly 200 million LVL in seven years’ time in local and regional roads.

Nevertheless, even if the money for roads is acquired, there is still another problem. According to Finance Ministry’s developed term plan, there may be no repair works at all in 2014. It is planned to finish all bureaucratic procedures only in August 2014.

This threatens the road industry with funding break, because all the current funding from the EU has already been invested, both Finance and Transport ministries report.

No certainty about EU money is expected to come this year. Bilateral coordination between Latvia and the EC on mutual investments is only planned to sign this December. It is likely that an informal agreement will be made this summer.

Ref: 102.109.109.6912


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