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Monday 21.08.2017 | Name days: Linda, Janīna

Latvian ports on decline, while neighbours flourish

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

While the neighboring ports flourish, the Latvian ones face either only a slight cargo turnover climb or a drop.

The business news portal BNN surveyed experts agree ports are not witnessing rapid growth due to the public and respective authorities attitude. In the meantime the neighbours care for helping businessmen in coordinating matters and permit them to carry out modernization projects. It is vice verse in Latvia – it is often all kinds of reasons are looked for to hinder business activities. This must be some kind of a national characteristic of ours, says the company operating in Liepaja Port Astramar Liepāja Board Chairman Viesturs Andersons. Unfortunately, this is reality. We are currently squeezing out everything left from the Soviet times. How long can we continue like that? I believe a year or two, not longer, Riga Port Strategic Planning and Project Management Department Director Vladimirs Makarovs criticizes the situation.

Not a year marked with success

BNN already reported 2010 was rather unsuccessful for Latvian ports, as they showed either a minimal cargo turnover climb or a drop, while the neighboring ports saw a rapid cargo turnover surge. Tallinn has recovered from the «Bronze Soldier» scandal, regaining its leader positions among the Baltic ports. Cargo turnover grew rapidly at Tallinn ports this year as well – from 16% up to 36.6 million tons. Klaipeda port shows ambitious performance as well, increasing its cargo turnover by 12.2% up to 31.27 million tons. The port is currently developing several new terminals projects, for example, the liquefied gas terminal. Similalry, Russian ports keep growing as well, with huge plans for the future.

Lack of new projects

Makarovs reminds there have been no large-scale port projects in Riga during the recent years. Various non-governmental institutions and the lack of the state’s financial support have put on hold all the initiated projects. Let’s take Uralhim project as an example. We have been discussing it for two years already. It is an ambitious project with a large potential, it could bring millions to the port and the state. However, due to excessive red tape and other obstacles, in two years time it has barely reached the stage of a public discussion that might take place in March. It is not a normal situation, but if it is here to stay, Latvia will no longer be a serious player in the transit business, says Makarovs. He points out it is on the contrary in Tallinn and Klaipeda, where non-governmental organizations and the port management collaborate hand in hand to find the best solutions. They focus on what to do for a project to be carried out, not put on hold. This is a major difference, Makarovs says.

Irresponsibility of authorities

An example of the state not doing anything to improve the situation is the recent event with heavy fuel loads at AS Ventbunkers terminal, which is one of the largest oil handling terminals in Latvia. Due to the Russian oil giant Lukoil subsidiary Litasco, AS Ventbunkers could not discharge fuel, as Litasco refused to take the delivery. Thus heavy oil export through the territory of Latvia is limited. AS Ventbunkers terminal is full and it is impossible to take new deliveries. Instead of solving the complicated issue, the state is simply observing and neither the Finance Ministry, nor the respective authorities have tried to forward this issue. Thus the Latvian company is a hostage of the situation.

High-ranking officials not being sufficiently professional is a problem as well. Unprofessional persons take a lot of high posts in many sectors. It has a considerable impact on the sectors development, because the state’s support is needed in the fight with competitors. However, it is often our officials do not have a clue about such matters, points out Andersons, giving as an example Latvian Railway whose posts are occupied by many political stooges with no idea about the sector, tariffs and the competitors.

The public and respective authorities attitude has to alter, in order to change the situation in the fight for competitiveness, BNN surveyed experts agree.

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  1. Swen says:

    This situation again requires implementing better strategies.

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