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Friday 20.07.2018 | Name days: Ramona, Ritma

CPCB to check Ventspils City Council's expensive self-advertising monitors

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Аuthor: Edijs Pālens/LETASeveral months prior to the municipal elections, a number of Ventspils City Council owned institutions and companies decided to buy special information monitors, which altogether cost the budget 65 000 LVL, Latvian Radio and LTV news portal report.

According to the city council, this is being carried out as part of some EU project to improve the residents’ digital skills. However, what is shown on the monitors in 30 locations of the city creates suspicion about valid use of resources, trying to popularize the leading political force of For Latvia and Ventspils representatives. The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) is interested in these events in Ventspils.

The goal of the international project – SEED – is to help residents to learn what e-management means and what benefits it brings. Ventspils municipality is involved in this project. Its allotted funding from the European Union is 280 000 EUR.

It is planned to secure free access to municipal information and e-services for the city’s residents and guests using interactive monitors, as it is stated on the homepage of Ventspils City Council.

According to the information posted on the Ventspils City Council’s homepage, monitors of impressive size have been installed in 30 locations around Ventspils. They show information about the weather and general information about SEED.

However, the monitors often change to pictures depicting “The municipality’s achievements since 2009”.

Among the mix of different landscape shots and events there are also pictures with the leading For Latvian and Ventspils representatives, who are also candidates for the upcoming elections. There are also pictures of Aivars Lembergs – he does all kinds of useful things, according to the pictures. Here he digs holes in the ground, here poses with sportsmen or the largest taxpayers, here he shakes hands with a teacher, etc.

There was a total of 12 procurement contests announced, spending a total of nearly 67 000 LVL.

Report on the progress

Deputy Chairman of Ventspils City Council Guntis Blumbergs claims to know nothing about the monitors. Nevertheless, he says “this is a form of a municipal report on what it does every day”.

Blumbergs notes that Project Manager of Ventspils Digital Centre Kristians Jacevics is responsible for the installation of the monitors. He is a Board member of For Latvia and Ventspils and is included in the candidate list.

“We believe it is normal for us to report our progress over the last four years to the people”, – says Ventspils City Council Marketing Department manager Kristine Dublinska.

She does not agree with the statements that this merely reflects the good deeds of Ventspils City Council while using administrative resources and popularizing the managers before the upcoming elections.

Another picture features Lembergs with the largest taxpayers. “I have no other photo that has the taxpayers together. I have no other photo, so I have to choose from the ones I have”, – explains the marketing manager.

The CPCB will decide

Both the progression of the contests and what is shown on the monitors will be inspected by the CPCB.

“I can confirm that the bureau has, indeed, begun an investigation about possible advertisement and administrative resource misuse cases in Ventspils”, – CPCB representative states.

“At the same time, will will be inspecting the procurement and installation of the procured monitors as part of the whole inspection. The thorough inspection will determine the compliance of the procurement with regulations. It will be determined whether there are, indeed, signs of corruption and conflict of interests”, – CPCB political organizations’ financing control department manager Inga Solovey explained.

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