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Wednesday 19.09.2018 | Name days: Verners, Muntis
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NGO: government makes decisions while listening to opinions of lobbying organizations

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe Cabinet of Ministers should change its decision-making practice, when only opinions of organizations associated with it are taken in to account, said Latvian Civil Alliance representative Kristīne Zonberga during a meeting of Non-governmental Organizations and Cabinet of Ministers Cooperation Memorandum Council.

In a report regarding NGO development tendencies, Zonberga mentioned the negative cooperation NGOs have with the government. She said the government has reduced organizations’ opportunities to become involved in decision-making processes by adopting new rules that make it harder for them to participate in meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers.

«The order in which organizations voice opinions about matters on the government’s agenda was changed at the beginning of the year. The new order dictates that NGOs first have to send a letter detailing their opinion on the matter. Only after that the decision regarding an organization’s participation in a meeting can be made,» says NGO representative.

Zonberga also said the government underestimates the importance of society’s participation by only listening to opinions of people or industry representatives who are not experts in matters discussed by the government. «The government only wants to hear opinions of organizations loyal to them, which is characteristic for authoritarian countries. The goal behind it is allowing the government to conduct the work performed by public organizations and defend against criticism,» said Zonberga.

She says that Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis has been avoiding meeting with NGOs these past several years, and has been avoiding meetings of the council on a regular basis. Latvian Civil Alliance had proposed discussing aforementioned problems with President Raimonds Vējonis at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, no meeting has taken place so far. Such treatment of NGOs by the state, according to Zonberga, demonstrates officials’ attitude towards all of us.

Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre’s director Pēteris Vilks did not agree with conclusions made by the Civil Alliance, adding that any person has the right to express their opinion about matters discussed by the government.

«Society’s participation in relation to decision projects start with a meeting of state secretaries, where public organizations are allowed to voice opinions. All opinions and proposals are taken into account. Unfortunately, not every person can attend government meetings: there have to be some limits,» said Vilks.

Ascendum board member and deputy manager of NGO and Cabinet of Ministers Cooperation Memorandum Realization Council Zaiga Pūce admits that information from the Civil Alliance is worrying and recent trends show that NGO and government cooperation is «drifting the wrong way».


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