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Specific Saeima officials call to delay the progress of the gas liberalization bill

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Аuthor: Edijs Pālens/LETADuring a closed meeting of the Saeima National Economy, Agriculture and Regional Policy Commission, representatives of the Economy Ministry (EM) called to first allow the government to evaluate the question of the gas market liberalization, but several officials encouraged to submit this issue to the Saeima as soon as possible. Ivars Zarins from Harmony Centre and Dzintars Zakis of Unity proposed doing so more than other officials, according to the verbatim report of the commission’s February 27 meeting.

During the meeting, EM representative Gatis Abele called to have the government review this question, not the commission. He noted that the EM would prepare the proposal on the level of the Cabinet of Minister with account to “all aspects”.

Official Klavs Olsteins noted that he does not understand why the Economy Minister did not show up to the meeting. He also said that representatives of EM voiced no clear proposals as to the situation’s proper solution. In regard to that statement, Abele explained that the ministry proposes that the government reviews this issue before it can be submitted to the Saeima.

Dzintars Kudums (National Union) asked EM representatives the time it would take the ministry to present the commission a fully reviewed proposal if it goes through the government first. Abele answered that the ministry would require one month.

Zakis, on the other hand, proposed that the commission submits the discussed proposal as a bill, because “it has a good base offer”. “I for one believe it would be better for us to submit it as a bill, open it up and have a quality discussion that would determine which aspects of the opening market would benefit Latvia and which would make prices higher,” – Zakis said.

Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica (Reform Party) was confused as to why parliamentarians “take away” work from the government. She also said no decision can be made about proposals for amendments as long as there is no precise information.

Zarins, on the other hand, said that this bill would give a clear signal that “the government should work on this matter”. Otherwise, according to the official, this bill is going to stay unfulfilled for a long time.

Ten officials of the commission later voted for submitting the bill, two officials from RP abstained from the vote.

As reported, on February 27, the majority of officials of the Saeima National Economy Commission agreed to submit amendments to the Energy Law, thereby partially putting off the liberalization of the gas market until effective agreements have been made with third countries, except for Estonia, Lithuania and Finland. The coalition then decided this matter should be discussed by the government.

On March 19, the government could not choose a single gas market liberalization models offered by directives of the European Union. The Economy Ministry will need to present the government a more detailed report concerning the assessment of the models, as well as the best possible solution for Latvia. According to Daniels Pavluts, this will take a few months.

However, Pavluts noted in regard to Saeima officials’ proposal to delay part of the market liberalization’s requirement that Latvia will need to adopt some of them, because the country has accepted specific obligations in regard to this.

Seaima officials later agreed about publishing the verbatim report of the National Commission’s February 27 meeting, specifically parts of the reports that do not include commercial secrets. At the same time, officials agreed to invite EM representatives to the meeting, so that they could learn of the ministry’s plans about the liberalization of the gas and electrical energy markets.

The Saeima crossed out the amendments of the National Economy, Agriculture and Regional Policy Commission’s amendments to the Energy Law from today’s agenda. Instead, this project was added to the agenda of the June 6 Saeima meeting.

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