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Antāne: transit industry has been on thin ice lately

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«The transit industry has been on thin ice lately. Russia’s decision to divert all cargoes to its ports will only smash the ice. The government and state policy-makers have two choices – wait for the ice to break completely and watch the industry drown until finally stepping in, or act now to at least reduce the crisis for the country’s national economy, workers and their families,» says President of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics Inga Antāne.

She says that hoping that the situation’s continued decline does not reflect on Latvia’s economy goes against the basic principles of economy.

She also notes that the future progression of the industry’s developed action plan to help save the situation will become clearer this week – it will either drown in the ocean of paperwork or it will be carried for detailed discussions. BATL notes that on Tuesday, 17 October, Saeima’s National Economy Committee will review matters associated with the industry’s competitiveness. On Wednesday, 18 October, the action plan will be accepted as one of the main topics on the agenda of the Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council meeting. This council is led by Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics organized a press-conference at Bergs Hotel on Wednesday, 13 September. During this conference, the association reported on the proposed action plan with specific objectives and deadlines for the government.

Members of the association also invited Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis to take charge in talks with industry representatives, considering that talks with Transport Ministry and minister Uldis Augulis have reached a dead end.

After the official portion of the conference, in which BATL president Inga Antāne, Ventbunkers economy and budget office manager Ivars Landmanis, Baltic Expresis chairman Māris Bremze and Ventspils Commercial Port board member Jānis Hāze discussed topical problems in the industry and answered questions from the audience.

It is important to emphasize that Antāne, opening the discussion about the industry’s problems, said: «It is not just about transit, but also about Latvia’s economy as a whole. The industry provides 8,000 jobs and brings the state budget around one billion euros every year.»

The conference pointed to the trend for processed cargo volumes to decline. «This is the reality,» said BATL president. She added that it is necessary to review costs, the current loan volume and the tariff, which is set to grow by 7% next year.

Antāne emphasized the widely criticized matter regarding the electrification of Latvia’s railway: «Latvia cannot afford electrification at the moment. We have proposed modernizing existing infrastructure multiple times in the past. Unfortunately, our cries fell on deaf ears.»

«Wars broke out because of lack of communication, and I don’t want to fight. We believe the prime minister should take over talks,» said Antāne.

«Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently publicly said that no more cargoes from Russia will be sent to Latvian ports next year! The transit industry already feels the effect from this because coordination of transport schedules with Russia is already poor. This decision from Russia will have a strong impact for the transit industry, the country’s tax revenue and employment,» BATL employees previously said.

«Transport Ministry, which is responsible for the industry, has pretended to be deaf to the industry’s pleas for years. Incompetent and ruinous decisions, formal declines, lack of communication with the industry and continued inaction over the years has led to a situation when the country’s second largest national economy sector, which provides a considerable contribution to the GDP and employs thousands of people, stands on the brink of a crisis,» experts added.

Ref: 224.109.109.5255


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