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Sunday 23.09.2018 | Name days: Vanda, Veneranda, Venija

BATL urges to replace Ventspils Free Port Authority management

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUVentspils Free Port Authority (VFPA) has long been practicing systematic violations and purposeful contra-action towards business interests of companies operating in Ventspils port, Baltic Association of Transport and Logistics (BATL) told BNN.

“Openly irrational actions, hidden and short-shortsighted decisions taken by the VFPA managers as well as delayed decision-making often endanger and will keep endangering foreign investments in Latvia. This undermines Latvia’s reputation of a decent business partner and lays grounds for deteriorating political and economic Latvia’s relationship with the western and the eastern neighbouring countries,” Aivars Gobins, Chairman of BATL, writes in an open letter to the Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Transport Minister Aivis Ronis, Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts, Finance Minister Andris Vilks, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Edmunds Sprudzs and first deputy of Ventspils City Council Janis Vitolins.

He points out that, during the past ten years, companies operating in Ventspils port and Ventpils City Council opposition deputies have repeatedly approached the Saeima, the President, ministries as well as other competent authorities with complaints about the VFPA’s negligence over investors.

“The reason for that might be the officials’ private interests, which serve as an obstacle for investors to develop their businesses since they are not considered to be loyal to the city power. Moreover, we have also come up with possible solutions and law amendments that have been neglected so far.”

“The VFPA board reviews nearly all proposals, requests and applications by such “unloyal” companies behind closed doors, without participation of investors representatives. These meetings are entirely secret, which alone suggests that the management of the port has a reason to conceal their motives behind their weird and unreasonable decisions. The VFPA is also often avoiding meetings with investors representatives,” according to the letter.

“We regret to conclude that the long-term destructive approach of the VFPA has turned Ventspils Port into an unstable and unpredictable partner in the eyes of clients and investors,” the BATL says.

The open letter indicates that “the situation described clearly points at one of the reasons why the previous leader of the region Ventspils Free Port, unlike its rivals, keeps loosing the cargo flow.

“Possibly, the selfish motives behind decisions that are clearly unadvantageous for the state, subjectively negative attitude towards investment projects and apparent impunity damage Ventspils and Latvian transit business, the reputation of the port as well as the image of the state in general. We see the business environment in Ventspils Free Port as unstable, unpredictable and not investment friendly.”

It is also emphasized that the above-mentioned situation is to a large extent confirmed by the State Audit Office’s report No.5.1-2-10/2010 “Ventspils Free Port Operational Efficiency and Compliance with Legal Requirements”.

“The State Audit Office found /VBP/ management’s violations imply the necessity to urgently intervene in the situation and end the operations of Ventspils Free Port management that are dragging down the state transit industry,” believe the authors of the letter.

In an open letter addressed to high state officials, the Association requests a detailed assessment of the State Audit Office’s report and the compliance of the current board members with their post, withdrawing the current state and local governments’ representatives from Ventspils Free Port’s board until the situation is assessed, as well urgently determine the highest direct management authority or official who is eligible and obliged to examine the rule of law of the decisions adopted at the Free Port’s management, revoke unlawful decisions or, in case of unlawful inaction, issue an order to take a decision.

Similarly, the letter calls on ensuring that industry professionals and representatives of port business associations are elected to Ventspils Free Port’s board, carrying out changes in the normative acts and making the procedure of Ventspils Free Port management’s decision-taking process transparent. It is also requested to provide information on planned activities for the situation improvement at Ventspils Free Port’s management and overall at Ventspils Free Port.

“We are sure that only Your urgent intervention in this situation can stop the arbitrariness of local authorities and degradation of the former Baltic Sea’s largest and most successful port’s operations and investment climate. On our behalf, we are ready to provide You a full professional cooperation for reaching o common goals,” the letter concludes.

The BATL has been actively operating in the area of transit and transport sector already for four years. The Association’s members and partners are well-known port terminals and forwarding companies with foreign capital, which include AS Ventspils Tirdzniecības osta, AS Kālija parks, AS Baltijas ekspresis, AS Latvijas Naftas tranzīts, AS Ventbunkers, SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals, AS Ventspils Grain Terminal, SIA iLink, AS PKL Flot and others.

The BATL’s members and the cooperative company SIA Ventspils Nafta Terminals account for nearly 90% of Ventspils Free Port’s cargo traffic. These companies are actually not only the basis of the city’s economic system, but also to a large extent promoters of public welfare, the letter indicates.

Ref: 102.105/106.105/106.160

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