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Sunday 29.03.2020 | Name days: Agija, Aldonis

If Riga City Council fails to resolve waste management problem, Pūce may initiate dismissal

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waste management, Juris Pūce, Riga City Council, Clean R, CREB, Eco Baltia vide, Getliņi EKO

Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce

If Riga City Council fails to resolve the waste management problem by 11 December, Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry will likely initiate the city council’s dismissal, said Environment Minister Juris Pūce in a conversation with journalists on 21 November.

The minister said he has given the municipality 20 days to submit to the ministry explanations and a detailed action plan on how they plan to ensure waste transporting in the city after 11 December, when the state of emergency is set to end.

He says explanations received from the municipality yesterday do not suggest the city council has a clear action plan.

«This means it is quite likely they will not be able to perform any of the municipality’s autonomous functions, which is a reason enough for the city council’s dismissal,» said Pūce.

On top of that, Riga City Council needs to submit a plan on how they plan to inform residents about the situation. At the same time, together with the request of information, the ministry has informed the city council of multiple lasting violations. A warning has been issued.

Pūce says the ministry has turned to Riga City Council seven times this year, stressing the failure to comply with entrusted duties in waste management, adding that the city council does not have appropriate binding rules. On top of that, Riga City Council has not followed through in response to criticisms.

«Regulations part of the state of emergency also enforced the duty to perform appropriate actions, including the procurement to secure waste management services. However, after we outlined that adopted binding rules are inappropriate, the municipality decided to not hold a meeting yesterday and discuss this matter,» said the minister, expressing his disappointment with such a step from the municipality.

Yesterday the city council informed the ministry that they are still working on the procurement requirements and their approval, which creates concerns about the municipality’s ability to ensure waste management services after 11 December, because any procurement procedure requires time.

«Basically they admit not complying with requirements and are unable to perform the functions entrusted to them,» said Pūce.

According to him, the ministry has no hope the city council will be able to find some way out of the situation. This is why the ministry is considering solutions if no solution is found for waste management problem in Riga after 11 December.

«The law permits snap procurements, but it is clear this will not be possible to ensure a quick re-signing of contracts for residents. Nevertheless, we’ve already seen such a precedent. In Jurmala, for example, all costs of waste management were covered by the city until a solution was found,» said the minister, adding that he is more worried about politicians’ focus on serving their own interests.

The minister did not mention any specific plans. Answering the question if the ministry could take on costs for waste management, Pūce said if this happened, the costs would fall on the shoulders of the city council’s budget.

As reported, Riga City Council and SIA Getliņi EKO have signed a waste management contract for waste management services worth a total of EUR 686.3 million in a public-private partnership. SIA CREB Rīga was declared the winner. This company consists of two service providers – Clear R and Eco Baltia vide.

In accordance with the public-private partnership process, the winner of the tender was to start providing waste management services in Riga starting from 15 September, as well as secure investments in the next 20 years. In the beginning of June, Getliņi EKO and CREB Rīga registered a joint company Rīgas vides pakalpojumi. Later, however, the company changed name to Tīrīga.

Competition Council, suspicious of possible abuse of dominating presence in the market, later initiated a violation case against Riga municipality and Getliņi EKO. To competition on the waste management market is maintained during the review of the case, Competition Council adopted a temporary regulation, which prohibited Tīrīga from signing contracts with residents after 15 September.

Read also: Competition Council: Riga City Council takes no responsibility for its own mess

On 11 September Latvia’s government declared a state of emergency in Riga.

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