Latviski English По-русски
Tuesday 12.11.2019 | Name days: Kaija, Kornēlija

Exclusive | Ķirsis: audits in other Riga City Council’s companies might uncover more «surprises»

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Riga City Council opposition deputy Vilnis Ķirsis

It would be worth performing an audit like the one performed at public transport company Rīgas satiksme in other companies of Riga City Council. «I am confident it would help unearth other «surprises‘ from Riga Forests, Riga Central Market, and Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks,» BNN was told by Vilnis Ķirsis.

«City council’s goal is making everything harder to see»

Ķirsis believes one of the biggest risk zones in which Riga City Council overlaps with corporate activities is the municipality’s owned companies. This is why he believes the self-management model needs changing. «The city council management’s goal is making everything harder to see – to make secret schemes possible to implement. The same can be observed in Ventspils – we can see [Aivars] Lembergs does this rather well. The same has happened in Riga.»

«Until now appointment to posts in companies like Rīgas satiksme happened the following way – [Nils] Ušakovs sat and [Inese] Strautiņa managed some selection commission for him. Then [as though through a selection process in Rīgas satiksme] the board of the company got [Emīls] Jakrins. The ‘right’ people were also put in charge of municipal heating company Rīgas siltums. All this happened based on some principle of vertical power and fraternal relations, not based on people’s professional skills.»

To fight against corruption in companies, from giving away postings to controlling flow of money, Ķirsis believes one of the solutions would be adopting OECD guidelines in companies. He believes an independent committee and perform selection of board members based on principles of professionalism.

«Then companies would get truly professional and independently selected people who have no strings to any puppeteers.»

Riga City Council deputy believes it is highly important to ensure maximum transparency to follow different activities: where money is invested and who is paid by companies. «We can see politicians have been hiding behind mystical commercial secrets for years, refusing to provide information about companies. Fraudulent activities would be harder to perform if everything is made transparent.»

According to Ķirsis, a company as a form is nothing evil, because Riga Forest or Riga Central Market or some any other company may have some form. «This isn’t exactly the municipality’s department, but at the same time we cannot let them loose either. Adoption of good management principles – both in regards to OECD and transparency – would help reflect efficiency of companies, not create more opportunities for theft.»

«A knife can be used to cut bread, but it can also be used to stab someone. The same applies to companies – if the goal is noble, they work well, whereas if the goal is stealing something, they serve this purpose,»

he told BNN about companies.

«There is no Nr.2 behind Ušakovs»

Ķirsis believes it is necessary to organize emergency elections to change the established system in Riga City Council.

«For a decade Riga has been ruled by a regime whose philosophy has been doing things that seem noble on the outside but fundamentally focused on using a lot of work and resources to accomplish nothing.»

He mentioned Riga’s bridges, which continue crumbling and streets like Kr. Barona Street as examples. According to Ķirsis, work there was performed on the surface.

«The moment it became clear work was being done on the surface without any substance to it, both of the city’s leaders understood they have no way to wiggle free, so they decided to ‘abandon ship’ and avoid problems that way.»

The fact that Riga City Council has descended into chaos and coalition members are unable to reach an agreement, Ķirsis believes the reason is that Harmony has always ruled through vertical power – they have Ušakovs, but no Nr.2 behind him.

«The other behind them is [Olegs] Burovs or [Vadims] Baraņņiks, or someone else. There is one-sided ruling. This is why they themselves are in chaos, because they have no people to take on leadership and fight. This is why at some point the party suffered a split, because some of them thought ‘why can’t I be in charge’.»

«Nothing can be accomplished with the current composition»

«Election of a new mayor is not the only decisions. Mayors are no kings. It is but one of the decisions the city council faces. The city council’s chairman has the right to organize meetings, etc., but it’s not absolute power.» Ķirsis says to «climb out of this mess, economic corruption, crisis, etc., it is necessary to perform a number of tasks best described as dismantling the old system».

According to him, the current composition of the city council is no longer able to make any important decisions. «The very same 32 deputies have been pushing Riga to where it is now remain in power, and they are not prepared to abolish they system they have built up. That’s the salt of it,» explains Ķirsis.

He adds that Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga would definitely end up in the minority should emergency elections take place. According to him, this is proven by results of European Parliament elections, looking at results in Riga.

«They had Ušakovs, [Andris] Ameriks – the leaders of Harmony’s list. They had a massive promotional campaign and they only barely won in the previous election. But at the time no one was aware of the massive corruption scandals. The collapse of infrastructure was not as obvious as it is now. Now that everything has been revealed, I see no opportunities for Harmony and HSR to remain in power.»

«It is likely Riga City Council will not be able to secure quorum, because everyone will be either in ‘Seventh Heaven’, detained or not allowed to approach one another at this rate,» Ķirsis allows.

«One more reason why I believe emergency elections are needed – I believe we’ve never had such a [corrupt] composition in the city council,» the opposition deputy says.

When asked by BNN what he thinks about corruption accusations against Baiba Broka, Ķirsis said Broka should have stepped down. «If Broka stepped down from her post in Riga City Council, it would have increased the bar for ethics and demonstrate that Harmony and HSR members cannot get away with similar acts.»

«Riga will not have money for some time»

According to him, after emergency elections there could be a five-year period in which «it will be hard to tackle affairs and take on the big vision.» «Riga will not have money to afford development for a time. But there will be money to sort out Deglava Bridge, Zemitans Bridge, streets and communications that bring a lot of money but have not received any investments in a decade,» comments Ķirsis.

He believes the next mayor should be something of a crisis manager. «There are some big problems and we need to resolve them. The next mayor needs to have a strong vision for development, but also have a mind for finances and management.»

Leave a reply

Doctors: Healthcare Ministry’s offered wage increase model is unfair

Healthcare Ministry’s proposed model for wage increase for doctors is unfair is goes against the previously voiced desire to raise wages for all healthcare workers equally, said chairman of Latvian Young Doctors Association Kārlis Rācenis and Latvia Health and Social Care Workers Trade Union chairman Valdis Keris.

NATO planes intercept one Russian war plane

In the Baltics, NATO fighter jets from the air policing mission, were last week scrambled once to respond to an alert of a Russian military aircraft.

Proposal to merge FKTK and Bank of Latvia makes it to third reading in Saeima

On Tuesday, 12 November, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided to submit to the Saeima amendments to the Law on the Bank of Latvia for the third reading. These amendments, among other things, provide for the merging of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Estonian village for autism care under construction

In Estonia’s north-west, a village, where different forms of the care of persons with autism spectrum disorder is under construction.

Value of September’s exported goods in Latvia up 2.5% when compared to 2018

In September 2019 the foreign trade turnover of Latvia amounted to EUR 2.44 billion, which at current prices was 1.6 % less than a year ago, of which the exports value of goods was 2.5 % higher, but imports value of goods was 4.6 % lower.

Court declares Latvian cosmetics manufacturer Dzintars insolvent

On Tuesday, 12 November, Riga City Pardaugava Court declared Latvian cosmetics manufacturer AS Dzintars insolvent. Jānis Ozoliņš was appointed as the company’s insolvency administrator, as confirmed by the court’s representative Viktorija Mežance.

EU’s hand extended to Belarus as Lukashenko visits Austria

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is on Tuesday, November 12, on a visit to Austria. It is his first foreign visit to an European Union member state in three years.

Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry proposes increasing wages for residents by 20%

Healthcare Ministry has come forth with a proposal to increase wages of local residents by 20% and wages of all other healthcare workers by 10%.

«The children arrive truly traumatised». Lithuania hosts 500 Ukrainian pupils

In Lithuanian schools, there currently learn more than 500 students from Ukraine, including the war-torn east of the country.

Internal Security Bureau’s investigations fail to improve situation in interior affairs services

Results of pre-trial investigations of the Internal Security Bureau (IDB) do not inspire improvement for the situation to improve within interior affairs services, which remain riddled with crimes of various categories, the bureau admits.

Ukrainian central bank ex-governor links attacks to oligarch over PrivatBank

Valeria Gontareva, whose family has been targeted in car and arson attacks, has linked the unclear events to an Ukrainian oligarch and the nationalisation of Ukraine’s largest bank PrivatBank.

Saeima Budget Committee’s head says it is hard to vote against popular things

«It is very hard to vote against popular things. In politics there will always be a situation when initiatives exceed abilities,» said chairman of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee Mārtiņš Bondars in an interview to Latvijas Radio, commenting on the approval of the country’s budget for 2020.

Ex-finance supervisory office’s head applies for Bank of Latvia governor’s post

Ex-chairman of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Uldis Cērps has officially submitted his candidacy for the post of governor of the Bank of Latvia.

Australia fighting over 50 bushfires amid strong winds

In Australia’s south-east, communities have been warned of «catastrophic» conditions as the state of New South Wales is fighting more than 50 bushfires. About six million people live in the region.

Tender for public transport service rights under fire over questionable rules

Latvia’s Procurement Monitoring Bureau has prohibited Road Transport Directorate from continuing the procurement procedure without amendments and signing the contract for regional public transport services for 2021-2030, according to the decision made by IUB Submissions Review Committee.

Saeima’s budget committee supports Latvia’s 2020 budget outline in first reading

On Monday, 11 November, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee concluded work on the next year’s budget, supporting its submission to the parliament for the final reading.

Ankara begins sending Islamist extremists back to West

Turkey has on Monday, November 11, announced the start of deporting foreign radical Islamist fighters back to their countries of origin. Turkey has over a thousand foreign Islamic State fighters in custody.

Number of murders and murder attempts up in Latvia this year

When compared to 2018, there has been an increase in the number of murders and murder attempts in Latvia in the nine months of 2019. The majority of those crimes were committed during alcohol drinking, according to data from Latvia’s State Police.

Tallinn’s payments into EU’s budget to increase by some EUR 120 mln

The payments of Estonia into the multiannual financial framework of the European Union could grow by around 120 million euros annually from the year 2021, yet the Baltic country still expects to receive considerably more than it contributes.

Construction output in Latvia increases 5.9%

Compared to Q3 2018, construction output had increased by 5.9 % in Q3 2019. Construction output rise was observed in construction of buildings as 11.7 %, civil engineering as 2.1 % and specialised construction activities as 2.4 %.

Economist: high rent prices in Riga contribute to emigration

The high rent prices may be the reason why in spite of low unemployment levels and shortage of labour force people from Latvia’s regions depart to foreign countries, not Riga, says Citadele Bank’s economist Mārtiņš Āboliņš.

Russia starts selling train tickets to annexed Crimea

A Russian railway company has begun selling train tickets from St. Petersburg to Crimea, the peninsular illegally seized from Ukraine. The first trip from St. Petersburg for Sevastopol in December will take 43.5 hours.

Latvia celebrates 100th anniversary of Lāčplēsis Day

Today, 11 November, Latvia celebrates Lāčplēsis Day and the 100th anniversary of the Bermondt affair, honouring the troops who died in Freedom Fights and other defenders of the state.

October’s unemployment level in Latvia at 5.7%

The registered unemployment level in Latvia was 5.7% of economically active population in October, which is as much as a month prior, according to data from the State Employment Agency.

Doctors urge government to postpone budget approval; prepare for strike

Latvian Doctors Union, Latvian Young Doctors Association and Latvian Nurses Association urge the government to postpone budget approval and continue talks about allocation of additional funding for healthcare in 2020 and future years, associations report.

Most read

Most commented