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Ministry fails to coordinate decision regarding Riga City Council’s dismissal

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Tuesday, 15 January, Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry failed to coordinate the latest redaction of the decision project On the Dismissal of Riga City Council, because the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments and Latvian Association of Large Cities objected it.

In the statement to the media, the ministry mentioned that the document received support from Justice Ministry, State Chancellery and the Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre. However, the State Chancellery stresses that it did not approve the ministry’s legislative act, and that it maintains its objections, saying that it is necessary to carefully assess the document from a judicial view, compare risks, etc.

EPRDM notes that Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments has decided not to support the document, believing that it does not include a reason for dismissing the city council. Latvian Association of Large Cities believes the annotation contains no information that proves there was a violation committed by the city council that warrants its dismissal.

The ministry says Justice Ministry has stressed that systematic violations have been uncovered in the work performed by Riga City Council. Additionally the ministry says opinions of the two aforementioned associations are not considered objective, because they receive grants from Riga City Council.

«Thereby no agreement was reached on the document during the meeting – because Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments and Latvian Association of Large Cities still do not agree that Riga City Council’s activities are illegal and against the interests of local residents. The two associations also do not agree that violations were found and documented in the legislative draft’s annotation,» the ministry notes.

Now the ministry intends to clarify the legislative draft in accordance to proposals voiced during the discussion and submit everything to the Cabinet of Ministers on 21 January.

The ministry’s parliamentary secretary Jānis Eglīts mentioned in a conversation with LETA that it because clear during the 15 January meeting that it would not be possible to coordinate the document with all involved sides.

Eglīts said the document will be viewed further by the Cabinet of Ministers Committee. One of its functions is evaluating political planning documents and reviewing not fully coordinated legislative acts.

According to him, Finance Ministry’s representatives mentioned the legislative act and its evaluation are not in the competence of the ministry. Nevertheless, Eglīts believes this is not right, because the legislative act was developed based on possibly illegal actions by the city’s administration, and this may also mean financial administration.

During the meeting, State Chancellery’s representatives mentioned possible risks, including the possibility of Riga City Council Chairman Nils Ušakovs turning to the Constitutional Court.

Environment Protection Ministry’s parliamentary secretary also mentioned the grants Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments and Latvian Association of Large Cities receive from Riga City Council. He says this is the reason for objections.

In spite of objections, the ministry’s representative believes the meeting transpired under constructive discussions.

Commenting on what Eglīts said, chairman of Latvian Association of Large Cities Viktors Valainis said the ministry ‘simply lacks the arguments’ to prove its point. «Our position is based on opinions of experts, not politicians’ personal views. We did not hear opinions of the ministry – the discussion was led mostly by Eglīts. The questions asked by Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments remained largely unanswered,» said Valainis.

He also said municipalities asked expanding the legislative draft’s annotation with an assessment of what the Environment Protection Ministry has done to ensure the city council prevents the uncovered violations. «The ministry could have assisted Riga City Council in prevention of the violations the city council is accused of. They invited the city council to do and change something. We also have to review the ministry’s inaction here,» says Valainis.

Chairman of Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments Gints Kaminskis said their only objective is making sure the legislative draft is made in accordance with legislative requirements. «Immediately after the development of this legislative draft we requested an expert’s opinion. We will not allow any lack of clarity, be it Riga or any other city,» said Kaminskis.


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