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Tuesday 19.06.2018 | Name days: Nils, Viktors
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Riga City Council changes internal rules again; each deputy given ten-minute limit for questions

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Monday, 21 May, Riga City Council changed its rules for Q&A sessions, providing a ten-minute limit for each deputy to ask questions. This is the third time the city council has changed its internal rules.

During budget talks, each deputy will be provided with a 20 minute time limit to ask questions. If this time limit is not enough for deputies to receive the necessary information, the reviewed decision project may be sent for a review to the committee responsible for it. During committee meetings, deputies are allowed to ask an unlimited number of questions. This also applies to city council deputies who are not members in of the committee responsible for decision projects.

The 21 May meeting went under the previous redaction of rules – deputies were limited in the number of questions they could ask and the time provided for the Q&A session.

Deputy Juris Pūce from For Latvia’s Development political party asked if there are any criteria for situations when the chairman of the city council is and not allowed to return decision projects to the committee that came up with them. Mayor Nīls Ušakovs said it will depend on the chairman’s understanding of developments during meetings and justifications behind reviewed matters.

Pūce also asked the mayor how he will know when deputies have asked all of their questions. «Ten minutes per deputy will be enough. This is 4.5 hours per Q&A session if questions are asked only by the opposition. This, I think, is enough to discuss each matter in detail,» said the mayor.

Deputy Juta Strīķe from the New Conservative Party said that «a deputy is not in army to talk for ten minutes one after another». She asked how the mayor and city council employees intend to make sure deputies ask questions with breaks between them. So that time is not wasted per deputy. The mayor said it is not an insurmountable challenge, and that city council employees will keep track of the time.

Jānis Bordāns asked if the mayor has plans to cooperate with the opposition. «You could appoint an opposition member as a head of one of the standing committees or at least a deputy chairman,» said Bordāns. The mayor reminded that both before and after elections all opposition parties promised to not cooperate with Harmony. Because of that, he said «there are no plans to run around the corridors and offer seats to opposition members». He added that he is open to forming a work group to meet with faction representatives to discuss the city council’s work.

Vilnis Ķirsis from Unity asked if Ušakovs has consulted with the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry for the development of the new rules. Ušakovs said he has. He added that he has no plans to recite what ministry’s representatives told him.

Andris Ameriks cut the Q&A session short after 20 minutes.

During debates, deputy Nauris Puntulis from the National Alliance said he doubts this situation will resolve on its own. His party plans turning to the government and requesting amendments to the Local Governments Law to ensure a strict legal border for democracy and internal order during city council meetings.

Other opposition representatives mentioned situations when Ušakovs’ proposed cooperation models did not work, and added that they do not believe cooperation will improve suddenly, because, according to them, the coalition will always find ways to limit opposition.

Changes to internal rules were approved even though the opposition voted against.


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