Reform Party (RP) Deputy Chairwoman Sandra Sondore-Kulule denies Lembergs’ complaints regarding RP in the port issue, saying, that he missed a great opportunity to stay quiet for once.
«I cannot think of a greater problem for Latvia’s transit industry and, especially, for port development, reputation and competitiveness than what «wars» of different oligarchic groups have done. All to fight for influence in transit business by means of violent take-overs of companies in Ventspils; Lembergs’ endless litigation processes in London against shareholders of Latvian transit companies; his criminal proceedings in Latvia with suspicions that this industry was used to transfer enormous amounts of money to offshores and buy political decisions, and even the media in Latvia. This is why when the «hero of the day» voices complaints about the alleged damage RP has done to the transit business the only thing that comes to mind is the phrase of one French President about the missed opportunity to stay quiet,» the politician notes.
«First of all, the research by fDi Magazine issued by Financial Times, which Lembergs repeats as a mantra to justify the objective evaluation of Ventspils port’s current activity. A question instantly arises: why does a magazine appear to be the «good foreigners port assessors», but the Latvian Foreign Investors’ Council or the American Chamber of Commerce are the «bad?», – Sondore-Kukule told Diena newspaper.
«Of the 600 liberal economic zones in 120 countries that were invited to take part, only 56 submitted the requested information. As a result the TOP 50 zones are only part of 24 countries. The range of countries is exotic as well (Bangladesh, Philippines, Morocco etc.) and does not justify the lack of countries with which Latvia’s zones compete in reality. There were only four European countries represented: Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Britain. The most curious facts follow! Take a wild guess among which five ports was Ventlspils port considered the best? Aside from Ventspils port, the TOP 5 ports include Morocco, Mauritius, Bahrain and Oman. No Singapore, no Rotterdam, no Hamburg and other leading global ports,»- the politician says.
She adds that research participants are the ones to decide which information to send. This leads to believe that the whole research is merely a «self-evaluation» of liberal zones, in which these zones are welcome to answer questions about themselves. Respectively, this is a kind of event in which everyone appraises themselves. «Judging from all this, another great source for motivation would be Ventas Balss newspaper (Voice of Venta), which is regularly paid by Ventspils Free port. It could definitely evaluate the competitiveness of Ventspils port in relation to Kuiviži port,»- says RP representative.
«All this is simply because the World Bank had already assessed Latvia’s port and transit/logistics industry competitiveness and did it in detail and quite objectively, evaluating 155 countries one by one since 2007. And, lo and behold, all we can say with great shame is that the index of Latvia’s logistics industry competitiveness dropped from 42th place to 76th in a matter of several years,» – the politician says.
And finally, the so popularly advertised data about cargo turnover increase in Latvian ports. Let’s be objective about this one – is this the achievement of port authorities or businessmen? Does the cargo come in thanks to or, rather, in spite of port authorities’ activities and thanks to global market demand and the geographical location of Latvian ports? It’s not Lembergs or Sormulis or Loginovs that bring in and unload all the cargo coming in. Businessmen do that, and most of them say that they are not satisfied with the business environment in ports.
«And now for the most shameless lies – that RP wants to privatize ports. Not a single RP official, minister or MP has never talked about port privatization. Unfortunately, the only person to talk about it the loudest is the person who quietly uses his official position, and possibly, has already de facto privatized one of Latvia’s most important ports. RP is offering the very opposite – how to improve compliance with state interests in port activity; how to reach a greater decision making transparency to ensure a perfect follow-up to every decision to every spent lat of income. How to make sure that the port not only does not use state property and infrastructure, but also give away some part of its income that was earned through the use of state property, because, right now, the ports do not pay anything at all! All collected rent pay, pilot, canal duties remain at the ports’ disposal used for who knows what kind of spending. The kinds that are known include: buying expensive vehicles, paying unjust benefits and questionable media coverage,»- says Sondore-Kukule.