Latviski English По-русски
Tuesday 20.03.2018 | Name days: Made, Irbe

Sondore-Kukule: good management is a must for Latvian port competitiveness

(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUInterests of Latvian sea ports need to be fought for – their integration in large transit corridors, attraction of high added value cargo and making them as attractive as possible to investors. It is especially important in the context of the current foreign policy. However, we can only successfully address these things when we know we have everything carefully sorted out back home. This is why there is still a lot of homework for us to complete, said Economy Ministry’s representative at Ventspils Freeport Sandra Sondora-Kukule in her interview to BNN.

She adds that a big discussion with the ministry about specific directions and priorities is still ahead. Nevertheless, there are multiple points on which there already is a large degree of consensus.

‘Out of four recommendation blocs provided by experts from the World Bank, half are proposed for the improvement of Latvian ports in regard to measures of better management. In order to create an attractive business environment, it is important to provide equal rights and equal game rules for all entrepreneurs. This also applies to the allocation of land and signing of lease,’ – says the politician.

‘We need to make sure there is a clear and strict investment evaluation method in place, especially for signed rent contracts and completion of obligations taken by entrepreneurs. I believe it is important to re-evaluate and correct criteria and results for the general evaluation of port competitiveness. The volume of handled cargo cannot serve as the main criterion!’ – says Sondore-Kukule.

In regard to the work performed by the Board, the long-term advisor to Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Valdis Zatlers says that the matter regarding the strengthening of information openness and clarification of the decision-making process remains very important. ‘Experts of the World Bank also advise increasing internal monitoring and control, as well as perform an independent financial and economic audit. This would also allow for an objective evaluation of port management cost reduction possibilities,’ – she adds.

‘I support the opinion that it is necessary to introduce criteria in relation to port management members’ selection process. In any case, Reform Party has been thoroughly discussion this subject. In 2012, the party made its decision on the sort of criteria it would like to see set for candidates who are proposed to work in port management Boards. These include: higher education management disciplines, law, financial management, economics, as well as professional competence and experience required: At least 5 years of experience in jurisprudence, economics, business or organization-related fields,’ – explained Sondore-Kukule.

When asked if these plans can be implemented without the involvement of other political powers and interests of those close to political powers, Sondore-Kukule replied that it is too soon to consider such possibilities.

She mentions the same about possible opposition against the proposed initiatives. She admits – she has not seen any particular negative response in statements of her political colleagues or the media.

‘What I have heard so far is a rather clear opinion on my professional skills and qualifications. What I would like to add is that I have gained work experience in state management, law and business areas.’

It should be added that Sondore-Kukule supervised more than 60 possible State Presidential veto processes in regard to laws approved by the Saeima. ‘I have written 49 articles for heads of the state in regard to submitting bills for secondary review in the parliament. Half of these cases applied to laws that impacted important sectors of state economy, tax policy, entrepreneurship, investment environment and port development and activities matters (in 2003, 2010 and 2011). In addition to that, in the past two years I have watched activities of Latvian sea ports, their management and competitiveness risks.’

In 2012, she and her colleagues in Reform Party made the first steps to improve port management – the government agreed to approve new regulations to ensure better transparency of port activities. The government also agreed to prohibit ports to sign so-called confidentiality agreements. It was also decided that state representatives in port management Boards will be required to coordinate their activities in order to make sure national interests are represented by all state representatives equally.

‘Thanks to RP’s initiative, Latvia now has a good general view on the situation at Latvian ports, which was provided by independent experts of the World Bank. This report provides authorities with all necessary information and recommendations on how it would be best to improve port activities in Latvia,’ – says Sondore-Kukule.

She adds that Diena portal and newspaper had noted in its article ‘Truth and lies about ports’ (2012) that large ports pay next to nothing to the state even though they use state owned transit and logistical infrastructure, real estate properties and access to the surrounding water area.

‘All fees collected by ports remain in their pockets. This is why I am especially glad that Reform Party has managed to change this system during the budget talks – from now one large ports are obligated to pay rent for the use of state infrastructure,’ – says the newly-elected Ventspils Freeport Board member.

When asked about her opinion on the sector in general, Sondore-Kukule noted that management should play a big role in improving port activities. The same applies to equal business conditions and requirements for all investors and a clear policy for investment attraction and use.

‘Why? So that our ports would have large logistical players from the west. Without them, we cannot hope to ship cargo to the west,’ – says the politician.

‘If Latvian ports with to survive in conditions of high competitiveness, they need to offer a kind of service and involvement model that cannot be realized by our neighbours and competitors in Russia.’

Sondore-Kukule notes that it is equally important to fight for competitiveness of Latvian ports on a global scale. It is important to regularly hold different events to popularize Latvia and its transit sector – discussions, seminars, foreign visits and diplomatic meetings. However, in order to do all this, officials have to ‘do their homework’, because foreign investors are aware of a great many problems and ‘traditions’ present in Latvian port management model.

‘In order to overcome all challenges ahead of Latvia’s transit sector without the role traditionally played by Transport Ministry, I see some good opportunities to defend economic interests through cooperation between Economy Ministry and Foreign ministry,’ – she concludes.


Leave a reply

Olainfarm: tax law does not allow applying for tax discount in investment projects

Rushed changes to the Corporate Income Tax Law, approved as part of the expansive tax reform, do not allow businesses with prior permission from the government to apply for CIT discounts in investment projects to receive said discounts if their historic profits are not divided into dividends.

EU agrees to UK's transition period before Brexit

In a breakthrough in the Brexit talks, the UK gave its consent on Monday to an agreement with the European Union that a tangible border would not be established between British-ruled Northern Ireland and Ireland to have the bloc agree to retain most EU advantages for close to two years leaving the union.

Latvia experiences one of the most rapid export rises among EU member states in January

In January 2017, Latvia experienced one of the most rapid export increases among EU member states when compared to the same month of the previous year, according to data published by Eurostat on Monday, 19 March.

Russian citizens living in Latvia provided more support to Putin than citizens in Russia

During the presidential elections in Russia last week, support provided to President Vladimir Putin by Russian citizens living in Latvia turned out considerably larger than it was in Russia.

Every third illegally downloaded software programme – infected with a virus

Data compiled by International Data Corporation shows: every third illegally downloaded software programme is infected with malicious software. Nevertheless, 69% of consumers and 33% of businesses in Europe procure computers with software from unsafe sources.

Russian economy has grown stable along with oil prices

Higher prices of oil have allowed the Russian economy to recover despite European Union's and U.S. sanctions and in time to benefit the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has secured his next term in office.

Number of vacant jobs in Latvia grew 17.9% in 2017

In 2017, there were 17.0 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which was 2.6 thousand vacancies or 17.9 % more than in 2016. In public sector there were 6.1 thousand job vacancies van in private sector 10.9 thousand vacancies.

Latvian cosmetics producers exports goods worth approximately 20 million euros

Cosmetics producers in Latvia export products worth EUR 20 million every year. Volumes increase 5% every year. The main export partner states are located in Europe. Still, there has been a significant increase of export volumes to third countries – to some countries this increase was as large as 60% -70%, according to data from Latvian Cosmetic Manufacturers Association.

US Chamber of Commerce worried that Latvia’s political culture has not changed since Ridzene talks

American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia (ACCL): «We are concerned that Latvian society’s and its government’s political culture has not changed much since the publication of information detailing events associated with Ridzene talks in 2009-2011. The state capture detailed there may still be possible...

Latvia’s prime minister open for talks regarding MPC system’s liquidation

Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis is prepared to discuss the possible liquidation of the mandatory procurement system, but not for all businesses at the same time.

Air temperature in Latvia to remain mostly positive throughout the week

On Monday, 19 March, weather in Latvia will change, as a low atmospheric pressure area together with an atmospheric front will approach the country from the north. The day will be sunny for the most part, but the amount of clouds will increase as hours go by, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Ukraine: British diplomats expelled from Moscow could work in Kyiv

In a reaction to Russia's announcement that it would expel 23 British diplomats from Moscow as part of the UK-Russia argument over poisoning of double-agent in an English city, Ukrainian Foreign Minister has suggested to his British counterpart that the 23 diplomats could now work in Ukraine.

UGF leader confirms: Lembergs will not be proposed for prime minister post

Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes and is currently suspended from his post as chairman of Ventspils City Council, had proposed his candidacy for the post of prime minister of Latvia multiple times in the past. The moment has come at long last when Lembergs will not be an official candidate for the aforementioned post, as BNN was told by the leader of Union of Greens and Farmers’ Saeima faction Augusts Brigmanis.

NATO's defence spending benchmark met by three EU member states

Despite the current demanding security situation, in the NATO military alliance, no more than three member states of the European Union have reached the recommended defence spending sum in 2017 and Estonia is one of them.

In fight for northern Syria, Turkish-backed forces take city from Kurds

In the fight for northern Syria between forces led by Turkey and Kurdish fighters, Turkish-backed units had gained control of the heart of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Russian presidential election pronounced won by Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin been announced as the winner of the Sunday, March 18, presidential election, as the politician has pledged to devote his new term in office to strengthen Russia’s defences against the West and to improve the quality of life.

Week in Lithuania. Some 5,000 gather in protest rally outside Lithuania's Parliament

Some 5,000 people gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius on Thursday, March 15, to express discontent with the failed parliamentary vote to impeach MP Mindaugas Bastys and the performance of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

BNN summary of the week: oligarch talks’ ownership; scandals in Lithuania; Estonia wants direct democracy

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Scandals; Invitation; Fight; Opinion; Decline.

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.