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Wednesday 21.03.2018 | Name days: Una, Unigunde, Dzelme, Benedikts

Opinion: two strikes to Latvia’s corporate political culture in a single week

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Last Friday, the personnel selection process for the post of chief of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau concluded with all candidates being declined. On Wednesday, on the other hand, a candidate was found for the post of director general of the State Revenue Service. Even though this candidate was not a favourite of behind the scenes decision-makers, she managed to pass through the three-stage process, writes Ir magazine journalist Aivars Ozolins.

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAccording to him, «both events prove candidates for high posts should be sought using a selection process and be assessed by professionals. This significantly reduces the chance of puppets, cretins or other figures beneficial to small politically economic groups being appointed to important posts».

«Since September 2015, when the organization of personnel selection processes for high posts in state institutions was first entrusted to the State Chancellery, it has been possible to find capable managers to important state institutions in five out of six cases, State Chancellery’s director Martins Krievins told LTV on Wednesday. In two cases, commissions had attracted professional personnel selection companies that interviewed potential candidates and encouraged them to apply.

The selection process is not the quickest way of finding an appropriate head. It is the most effective one if you want to find a good one, not just someone. The nine-month long search for the next head of SRS showed good and bad examples of selection processes,» – Ozolins writes.

[…] «The only personnel selection process mentioned by Krievins ended in nothing is the one that was organized to find the next chief of KNAB. Last week, the commission responsible for the process unanimously decided to end the process without any results, as none of the ten candidates had earned the minimal number of points to make it to the second stage of the selection process. This also resulted in the disqualification of one of four publicly known candidates, the current head of KNAB Yaroslav Strelchenok, whose term ends 17 November.

[…] it is unlikely that Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis has some personal doubts about Strelchenok’s inability to comply with his own criteria. His surprise is nothing more than the echo of the hate erupting from the political elite. Our uncontested corruption expert Aivars Lembergs, who had previously praised Strelchenok’s spine, liver and principles, voiced his shock the loudest.

Personnel policy in Latvia has been “reduced to idiocy”, as Lembergs complained in his weekly so-called press-conference. “Just think about it – those candidates are evaluated by some officials! Imagine something like that in the private sector – I own a company and I need to find a general manager,” the criminally accused person offered to imagine, who seems to imagine himself as the owner of Latvia. And he says that candidates would be proposed by someone from the side – prosecutor general, director of the Constitution Protection Office, chief of Security Police or director of the State Chancellery. “Are you insane? What do they know about choosing the new chief of KNAB?”

“There is a fight for big money taking place now,” – Lembergs explained. “Efforts are put into making sure KNAB is managed by someone disloyal to you. This is about maintaining businesses work hundreds of millions and making sure KNAB is unable to interfere. This is what it’s all about!”

Strelchenok so valuable to this millions worth of business is lost, but the fight is not over. Nevertheless, the duty of the ruling party is to limit manoeuvring opportunities for green farmers,» – said Ozolins.

«Kucinskis has ordered the State Chancellery to provide a solution to KNAB problem in two weeks’ time. But the solution is detailed in the law – the head of the bureau has to be sought using an open personnel selection process. To change the order in accordance with which candidates are selected, it would be necessary to change the law and the government’s recently approved guidelines. Difficulty with finding a proper replacement for Strelchenok is no excuse – the process has only just begun. On top of that, there is the SRS personnel selection process as an example of ensuring success.

Organization of a selection process cannot last forever, and professionalism of the committee’s members makes it impossible to sneak in a political puppet. It would be hard for the government to decline truly capable candidates chosen by the committee. The vote of the approval of candidates in the Saeima is an open one. In addition, it will have to be justified with serious arguments. Otherwise, parties risk losing their ratings. UGF’s ratings are already plummeting. Serious disagreements could even topple the government,» – Ozolins said.


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