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Ceturtdiena 09.04.2020 | Name days: Valērija, Žubīte

Coalition agrees to found AS Ventas osta to perform Ventspils Freeport’s functions

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Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs, sanctions, corruption, Latvia, ports, Ventspils Freeport, OFAC

Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits

To resolve the emergency situation with Ventspils Freeport, Latvia’s coalition has agreed to found a new state company that would take over the rights, duties and functions of Ventspils Freeport.

Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits said after a meeting of the coalition parties on Monday, 16 December, the parties agreed to discuss foundation of a new state company to take over Ventspils Freeport’s rights, duties and functions.

Additionally, an agreement has been reached to have the government and the Saeima to discuss amendments to the Law on Ports and Law on Ventspils Freeport to allow legal transfer of functions to the new state company.

«Our goal is forming a new structure as quickly as possible and delegate to it the function of signing contracts with business active at the port and ship agents to ensure ships are able to enter the port,» said the minister.

The new state company may be named Ventas osta and its council may consist of representatives of four ministries. Ministries would delegate representatives to the company’s council. The existing Ventspils Freeport authority may be maintained for a time so that it is able to hand over all existing assets to the new state company.

It is currently planned to appoint council members immediately – without a selection process.

«We have a state of emergency on our hands that needs resolving. We will appoint council members immediately,» said Linkaits, stressing that the concept for the port management system’s change needs to be submitted to the Saeima by 1 July.

Linkaits said it is unknown at the moment who could be appointed to the board and council of the state company.

«The search process has commenced. It is a matter of a couple of days – it is not a simple task to reach out to people who could lead a newly-formed company from the start,» said the politician.

The minister said currently Ventspils Freeport is performing business operations, but its future is unclear.

«Our duty is creating legal certainty as quickly as possible to make sure all economic activities can be delegated to a new company starting with January,» said the politician.

Linkaits said everything is being done to ensure the US sanctions are not applied to this new state company. ‘We have to ensure legal guarantees that not a single word or half sentence could violate sanctions,’ stressed the politician.

He also stressed communication is maintained with US officials. ‘It is a double-sided process in which we report our decisions and listen to opinions if decisions are sufficient,’ said the politician.

In spite of the fact that the decision was previously made to resolve not only Ventspils but also Riga Freeport operations matter, the new state company will be founded only in Ventspils. «We believe we have performed enough measures to ensure the [Riga] port is not at risk of sanctions,» explained Linkaits.

Read also: Lembergs’ influence over Ventspils Freeport needs to end, bank supervisors say

It is planned for the topic of the new state company to be discussed and made by the Cabinet of Ministers tomorrow, which will be followed up by registration in the Register of Enterprises. Additionally, relevant legislative drafts will be submitted to the Saeima for approval. The government will ask amendments be viewed quickly.

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