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Tuesday 16.07.2019 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere

Latvian minister to request police investigation in public transport company

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has finished its analysis of the audit performed in municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme. Soon the ministry plans to ask law enforcement institutions to provide their opinion on whether or not there had been fictive employment or other violations committed by the company, as reported by TV3 news.

The analysis performed by the ministry concluded that there are serious problems with Rīgas satiksme financial activities. On top of that, Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs, as a shareholder in the company, has not organized sufficient supervision over the company.

«There are clear signs of fictive employment in the company. Additionally, it seems one or two decisions in regards to company loans and development were made in breach of proper procedures. These topics should be carefully analysed by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau,» said Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce.

Official conclusions are not open for public access yet, however. All relevant information will be compiled into a final report to be later sent to Ušakovs. He will have a week to provide answers. Likely the minister will decide if there are enough reasons to request Ušakovs somewhere around the end of March, TV3 news reports.

Meanwhile, the Road Transport Administration in Latvia has decided to turn to law enforcement institutions, requesting a check of the suspicions regarding fraud involving tickets for invalids in shuttle bus taxis in Riga. The State Revenue Service has been asked to check if cash register systems had been manipulated. State Police has been asked to interrogate persons involved in this, the programme reports.

Until the truth has been determined, the directorate will ask the Public Transport Council to cease providing grants to Rīgas satiksme. Currently one plan suggests halting grants for Riga City Council in relation to 1st and 2nd group invalids, said Road Transport Directorate’s board chairman Kristiāns Godiņš.

As previously reported, audit company Ernst&Young prepared a report on the situation in Rīgas satiksme. The now former temporary manager of Rīgas satiksme Anrijs Matīss had previously explained that this report is ‘very critical’ and contains a number of recommendations to help the company function.

Recommendations are associated with poor choice of cooperation partners, self-cost calculations and other important processes performed at Rīgas satiksme. At the same time, auditors have said that in the last five years the company was dealt damages worth dozens of millions of euros by the previous management.

The audit also helped uncover that cooperation with public transport company Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has caused damages for Rīgas satiksme worth approximately EUR 6 million a year. The two companies have signed a contract on increased comfort for passenger transports in Riga.

Matīss had previously said it would be best to reduce the network of routes of public transport company Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme by half, as well as increase prices in orange shuttle buses. This, he said, would help save EUR 350,000 a month.

Meanwhile TV3 programme Nekā personīga has outlined possible illegalities with Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme’s registration of disabled passengers. In Latvia, disabled people do not have to purchase tickets – the state pays for them. The programme has found out that this required EUR 18 million last year. Half of this amount was allocated for Riga and EUR 2 million – for Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme.

Road Transport Directorate requested data from Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme on the number of passengers transported last year. The company responded by saying that 11.8 million passengers were carried in 2018. 14% of them were disabled people, which means their tickets were paid for by the state. It can be concluded from this information that the ratio of disabled passengers carried by Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme was 3-5 times larger when compared to other public transport companies. The Road Transport Directorate has promised to check if this data is genuine.

Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme has told TV3 that the fact the ratio of disabled people in large when compared to Rīgas satiksme can be explained with the latter company’s insufficient control of passengers – owners of personalized e-tickets do not register their trips, whereas other disabled people do not ask drivers to print so-called zero tickets. With shuttle buses, on the other hand, passengers enter from one door. This means all disabled passengers are registered.

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