Latviski English По-русски
Ceturtdiena 20.06.2019 | Name days: Rasa, Rasma, Maira

Debts of Rīgas satiksme exceed EUR 200 million and continue growing

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUWith the approval of budget amendments in Riga City Council, SIA Rīgas satiksme has received grants worth EUR 132.8 million this year. The city council’s chief financier predicts grants of similar size next year. Meanwhile, the debts of RS exceed EUR 200 million and continue growing.

EUR 122.7 million was provided by Riga municipality. The rest of grants provided to RS came from the state.

On Wednesday, 7 November, members of the city council allocated an additional amount of EUR 24.4 million. EUR 22.5 million of this amount came from the municipality and EUR 1.9 million – from the state budget.

In debates, nearly all members of the opposition criticized provision of grants to the company, adding that «this was akin to tossing money in a black hole». None of the factions represented in the opposition supported amendments to the budget.

Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs thanked his colleagues for supporting decisions associated with RS in recent years. «Less than 20% of Riga residents use public transport services at full price. The rest use discounts or use public transport services free of charge entirely. The company provides a social function and mobility for residents. The company works well and cannot go bankrupt – similar to the Welfare Department,» said the mayor, adding that it is thanks to the municipality’s decisions the company is able to transport pensioners and other social groups free of charge.

The company plans to divert EUR 4.75 million to cover the costs of discounted tickets. The increase of costs in this programme is explained with the increase of social groups that are offered discounts, such as parents of large families.

The largest amount – EUR 17.75 million – is requested to cover fuel, insurance, damping and other technical costs. Riga City Council’s Finance Department director Ilga Tuknuse explained that this amount consists of the costs that exceed EUR 1.15, which is the set ticket price in RS. Tiknuse did not mention the self-cost of the trip.

Deputy Viesturs Zeps asked about RS’ losses in the first half-year of 2018. Tiknuse said losses are on a rise. She also said the company’s debts currently exceed EUR 200 million and that debts continue growing. According to estimates show that next year’s grants may reach EUR 130 million. The total amount will be clear only once RS has submitted calculations and requests for next year’s expenditures.

Unity faction’s representative  Vilnis Ķirsis proposed at the very beginning of the meeting excluding planned grants for the company from budget amendments until a financial audit has been performed. However, his proposal received no support.

Tiknuse was asked by Ķirsis if it is true RS transports 7% to 8% more passengers, because mathematical calculations do not suggest so. Additionally, Ķirsis mentioned the company had reported a drop in the number of passengers not long ago. Tiknuse said the number of people using discounts is on a rise. She did not say anything about the total number of passengers.

Ķirsis again pointed towards a decline in the number of passengers and even with the addition of social groups that receive discounts the number of passengers continues to decline. «This does not comply with information provided by the company,» said the deputy.

Tiknuse said again that «the table cannot be simply compared to previous years», and the number of passengers eligible for discounts has increased nonetheless. She also pointed towards this year’s Song and Dance Celebration, during which all participants were offered discounts. This answer did not satisfy Ķirsis.

Jurģis Klotiņš from the National Alliance asked in what order RS provides justifications for grant requests. «This year, RS approved its budget in Q1, which is why we lacked estimates. Last year’ money was provided on the basis of previous years,» explained the financier, adding that RS has promised to provide estimates on time this year.

Olafs Pulks from Unity wanted to know what would happen if the city council were to cease providing money to the company, to which the financier said that «banks will likely start following the municipality’s intentions in regards to RS».

Deputy Ģirts Lapiņš from the National Alliance wanted to know if it is adequate to allocate major amounts of money without any documents to justify the reasons. Tiknuse did not hide the fact that the process ‘requires certain improvements’. Additionally, Ģirts Lapiņš wanted to know why money is going to be allocated to the company regardless of the fact that estimates so far have been imprecise. «They only managed to approve their budget in Q1 2018, and we’ve not had previous similar precedents for budget amendments in the past,» said the official.

In debates, Ķirsis voiced the opinion that amendments came as a rescue measure for RS and that RS’s submitted requests are controversial. He also said it is not useful to insure such a large park of vehicles, because «who would consider hijacking a tram»? «EUR 500 is taken from every employed Riga region and diverted to RS. Billions of euros have been provided to RS over the past decade. We could have used this money to fix all of Riga’s roads, build several concert stages, finish all schools and accomplish a number of other projects,» said the deputy.

Deputy Jānis Ozols from New Conservative Party reminded that voters have entrusted to deputies to represent their interests and ensure proper use of finances. «Today we approved allocation of finances no one will be able to spend this year. We provide money for activities that have already taken place – this is not proper budget planning. RS is a horror story that has been continuing for years. We will never plug this hole with money,» said Ozols.

Leave a reply

Latvia readying 15% alcohol excise rate cut in tit for tat to Estonia

In a measure seen in Riga as provoked unexpectedly by Estonian legislators, the Latvian Saeima has passed in the first reading the plan to cut the alcohol excise duty on liquor by 15%.

Estonian military surveillance plan rejected by Kaljulaid to reach court

Rejected as unconstitutional by the Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid, the plan to expand military surveillance in the country will reach the Estonian Supreme Court in autumn. the President and the Estonian parliament disagree on the provisions of the amended Defence Forces Organisation Law.

Latvia rejects Unmarried Couple’s Law intended for cohabiting partners

The Latvian parliament has on Thursday, June 20, rejected the draft Unmarried Couple’s Law proposed by MPs from the governing New Unity and coalition member Development/For! for the protection of cohabitating unmarried partners.

Lithuania not to change alcohol excise yet, while Latvia readies reaction to Estonia’s -25%

The much-praised unity of the Baltics in the 1990s has fallen through multiple times over the countries’ independent history and the last blow to it came this month from Estonia, which unilaterally made a 25 percent cut on alcohol excise tax in bid to lure alcoholic beverage lovers from neighbouring countries.

Swedbank not leaving Baltics, says newly appointed chairman Persson

Swedbank shareholders have elected former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson as its new chairman. He has started off by dismissing the possibility of leaving Baltic markets amid investigations.

Rejecting access to state secrets to Latvian MP, body points to his «dishonesty»

Rejecting access to Latvian state secrets to controversial MP Aldis Gobzems, the Latvian Constitution Protection Bureau has pointed to hid «dishonesty» and a possible legal violation, according to the decision shown on Facebook by the lawmaker himself.

Latvian energy giant’s council suspended; members satisfied with accomplishments

The council of the Latvian state energy giant AS Latvenergo has been removed by Economy Minister over lack of productivity. Yet its members have stated they were satisfied with the achievements of their work.

Researchers: Eastern Latvian cities promote Russia’s influence in Latvia

Despite Latvia’s difficult relations with Russia, two major Latvian cities engage in initiatives adhering to the interests of the eastern neighbour, researchers of the Centre for East European Policy Studies have found in a new, revealing study.

Experts on Latvia’s compensations to Jewish community: Good idea poorly developed

The Latvian draft law on paying compensations to the Latvian Jewish community for the real estate confiscated by Nazi and Communist occupation powers embodies a good idea, yet the requested sum and articles of law lack clear substantiation, legal experts commented to BNN.

Hollywood filmmaking in Tallinn? Estonia considering EUR 5 million support

The Estonian government is reviewing a request from film director Christopher Nolan, renown for Hollywood thriller blockbusters, to support with five million euros a film currently shot in Tallinn. Estonian state movie budget for 2018 is two million euros.

Annual inflation in Latvia, Estonia among EU's highest

Data on the annual inflation rate in the European Union showed that price rise in Latvia was 3.5%, followed by Estonia with 3.1%, Eurostat reports.

Nausėda’s pick for doctor seen as éminence grise of Lithuanian health care

Lithuanian President-elect Gitanas Nausėda has chosen Remigijus Žaliūnas as his personal doctor. The pick is seen as controversial by LRT broadcaster over Žaliūnas’ contacts with both business heavyweights and policy makers.

Latvian Prime Minister not to bend to budget appetite of extra EUR 600 million

For the Latvian state budget of 2020, the ministries have submitted requests exceeding the spending plans by 600 million euros, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš to Rīta Panorāma TV programme. The PM also expressed determination not to raise taxes.

Availability of cancer diagnostics in Latvia worsening critically, surgeon warns

The availability of cancer diagnostics and chemotherapy in Latvia is worsening critically, warned the head of the Oncology Clinic of the Riga Eastern University Hospital, surgeon Armands Sīviņš.

Take two: Trump starts re-election campaign for U.S. President

U.S. President Donald Trump has officially opened his bid to be re-elected to the post in the 2020 election. The new campaign slogan is: «Keep America great». There are 39 other candidates competing in the race to White House.

Ban on anonymous comments suggested after Baltic Pride in Vilnius

To stem offensive comments on Lithuanian internet media, member of the Seimas Vytautas Kernagis has suggested banning such anonymous expression of opinion, yet European case law upholds the right of authorless speech online, LRT reports.

Plaster to education: Latvian teachers’ pay increased for 2019 alone

The Latvian government has approved the rise of the lowest pay rate of teachers, but funds for this purpose have been earmarked only for the second half of 2019.

Pay cut to major Latvian port board members approved by government

The salary of the board members of major Latvian ports has been cut by a quarter in a decision by the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

Nordea bank searched in Denmark over money laundering allegations

The Danish offices of the Scandinavian Nordea Bank have been searched by police as a probe in alleged money laundering is being conducted, Bloomberg reports.

Fire Service: Violations in new Ventspils music school prevented

In the newly-built Ventspils Musical High School and concert hall Latvija, which had problems with fire safety, the Latvian State and Fire Rescue Service has found in a repeated inspection that the violations have been fixed.

UN: 2.2 billion people globally still lack safe drinking water

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation has found in study that 1 in 3 people or 2.2 billion people around the world lack safely-managed drinking water, while 673 million people practice open defecation.

Key owner of pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm changes board member over distrust

In Olmafarm, the largest owner of the Latvian pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm, changes in the management board have taken place over no-confidence, according to a decision of the majority of the co-heirs of Olmafarm seen by LETA news agency.

Lithuanian experts: No way of stopping coming nuclear power plant of Belarus

Options that could stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Belarus have been exhausted, experts in neighbouring Lithuania have said to its public media.

Latvia pushing for joint stance of Baltic-Nordic MPs on security policy

Ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, it is key for the legislators of the eight Baltic-Nordic states to have a common position on security policy, said MP Inese Ikstena, head of the Latvian delegation.

Latvian coalition undertakes to rise teacher salaries over reform

Recognising that education reforms in Latvia have been initiated, the ruling coalition has pledged to pass the decision to allocate funds to rising teacher salaries, as indicated by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Kariņš stated that the coalition parties have established that «reforms envisaged by Minister of Education Ilga Šupilinska have been initiated».

Newest comments