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Sunday 18.03.2018 | Name days: Ilona, Adelīna

Riga City Council’s 2018 budget – poorly planned or well-developed?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAs the vote for the 2018 budget of Riga City Council draws near, representatives of all opposition parties say they will not support it as long as politicians of the ruling coalition continue viewing the city’s most important financial document as good and aimed at development.

Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs stood first during debates. He said «this has been the most interesting city council meetings since 2009». «For the first time I have seen party assistants running around with papers, coordinating matters, and people not asking the same question over and over – it was actually funny to watch,» said the chairman of the city council.

He said that «there will be a very good budget next year» and once again repeated the funding allocated for school and street repairs, as well as planned projects. «The next year will be difficult for both Riga residents and guests of our city. This is because we will be repairing a large number of streets. Nevertheless, we will all benefit from this,» said the mayor of Riga, adding that the budget was developed responsibly and professionally.

Meanwhile, opposition member Vilnis Ķirsis (Unity) said the budget developed for 2018 is «a budget of hopelessness and wastefulness». «You cause a great deal of harm to Riga, because while our city continues stagnating, Vilnius and Tallinn are walking with leaps and bounds towards the future. Once you’re done, Riga will look as though a plague had gone through it,» said Ķirsis, adding that the only comforting thing about this situation is that «this will be the last time the coalition is formed in such a way».

Deputy Chairman of Riga City Council Andris Ameriks (Honour to Serve Riga) said that although elections took place six months ago, he has the feeling that the election process continues to this day. «The opposition is trying to prove utopian ideas – that Daugava River flows in the other direction and that the sun rises in the west, but instead you could think about the future and what we can do for the good of this city,» said Ameriks.

He said that he is proud of the budget, because, according to him, revenue detailed in the budget plan exceeds EUR 900 million of the first time. He said this means «there is plenty of work and development opportunities in Riga and that the quality of life is high». He also said that some of the proposals voiced by opposition members were good and will definitely be considered in the future. «We cannot support them today because you refuse to take responsibility for this budget. If you refuse to support it and you would not support your own proposals the same way,» said Ameriks, adding that «voting is one thing, working as a team for the good of the city is another.»

Opposition member Jānis Bordāns (New Conservative Party) used three characteristics to describe the budget – «fake social-democracy, consumption and non-transparency». «Today I finally understood why [Aleksejs] Rosļikovs drives around in an expensive Mercedes, Ušakovs drives a Land Rover and someone else – with Bentley. Money for that is taken from fake grants to Rīgas meži and Rīgas satiksmei.»

Krišjānis Feldmans (New Conservative Party) said «this budget is not aimed at development but rather consumption and acquisition of finances. He added that he suspects the budget was made to allow a certain group to become richer at the residents’ expense».


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