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Monday 16.09.2019 | Name days: Dārgs, Asja, Asnate, Dāgs
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Riga.lv board hasn’t a clue why most employees are Harmony and HSR members

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Municipal foundation Riga.lv board chairman Andris Konošonoks denies that employees for the foundation were picked based on their membership in either Harmony or Honour to Serve Riga (HSR) political parties.

On Wednesday, 10 July, Riga City Council discussed the topic regarding the foundation’s liquidation, which was unanimously supported.

During the discussion of the foundation’s liquidation, questions asked by deputies were answered by Konošonoks and Riga City Council Property Department director Aija Rimicāne.

Answering the question asked by Viļnis Ķirsis as to how it turned out that several dozen employees of the foundations are associated with either Harmony or HSR, Konošonoks denied that people were fictively employed or were picked specifically because their membership in either of the two parties.

«Employees were picked based on professional criteria,» said Konošonoks, adding that he has no idea how this situation came to be.

Ķirsis also asked why the foundation kept information about use of grants, employee lists and other aspects of its operations secret from the opposition. Konošonoks said information was never kept secret and was issued in accordance with the order detailed in the Data Protection Law.

City council deputy Ģirts Lapiņš from the National Alliance asked if the foundation’s board even agrees with State Audit’s conclusions in regards to the foundation’s uselessness and that most of its functions doubled those of the city council’s Public Relations Office. Konošonoks said that he does not really see the board’s responsibility in this, because he performed supervision of work and operated in line with statutes.

Politician Olafs Pulks (Unity) wanted to learn what exactly happened with the municipality’s newspaper, which was one of Riga.lv responsibilities. According to the board member, in 2014 the foundations started printing a fee newspaper that was distributed to residents via postal services.

«A year later we evaluated its contribution and concluded that it’s not a good practice, because free newspapers often do not reach recipients. As a result, we overpaid for papers that were thrown away. The ministry responsible for supervising municipalities said it distorts the press-market. This is why we decided in 2015 to hand over the newspaper to existing media,» said Konošonoks, adding that cooperation was established not only with printed press, but also Delfi portal, television and other media.

Konošonoks could not answer the question asked by deputy Valters Bergs (New Conservative Party) as to the identities of the foundation’s creditors. He only said that the several separate payments make up the entire amount. According to him, it could be unpaid vacation money.

Meanwhile, Rimicāne noted that it is already clear that Riga City Council’s Public Relations Office will take over maintenance of www.riga.lv portal, as well as social networks and content publication on mass media. This means certain employees may continue working in their existing posts but in the Public Relations Office.

Unity faction added three proposals to this decision project. The first proposal provided for termination of grants for Riga.lv. The second proposal provided for publishing all closed cooperation contracts, cost outlines, employee lists and other documents on the municipality’s portal within 30 days after liquidation of the foundation.

The faction also proposed applying measures against all deputies who in the past two years voted in favour of provision of grants to the foundations.

None of the faction’s proposals were supported.

It is planned the foundation’s liquidations will take about eight months. The process itself will be led by the foundation’s board.

This year’s grant for the foundation from the municipality’s budget was planned to be EUR 1.77 million. So far EUR 800 000 of this amount has been paid and EUR 430 000 has been spent. According to Rimicāne, the balance as of 1 June shows that the foundation losses reach EUR 235 000.

As previously reported, Riga City Council’s opposition had made several attempts to liquidate Riga.lv in the past. At first, the ruling coalition decided to postpone evaluation of the foundation’s work until autumn. When he took office, then the Mayor of Riga Dainis Turlais said he is prepared to amend the city council’s decision and discuss the possibility of the foundation’s liquidation sooner. He had also reached an agreement with the board of Riga.lv.

Riga.lv was founded in 2013. Since then the opposition has asked many questions about the usage of finances by this foundation, as well as its unclear functions, questioning if the main function of Riga.lv could be promotion of the ruling coalition.

It was also reported that the State Audit had concluded in its inspection that it is possible that in three years more than 20 million of taxpayers’ money had been wasted associations and foundations. Auditors mainly pointed towards two municipal foundations – Riga Tourism Development Bureau and Riga.LV.


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