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Wednesday 17.07.2019 | Name days: Aleksejs, Aleksis
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Transport Minister: there is never anyone responsible for critical situations with ports

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«To change the situation with Latvia’s port system, the most serious obstacle is reforming public associations into state capital associations. The problem is that in critical situations with ports, whenever we need someone responsible for decisions, we see the following – many duties and rights, but no responsibility. However, to change the situation, we will likely have to spend several years in talks and fights within the coalition and outside it,» said Latvian Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits in an interview to BNN.

«There is no reason for Latvia ports to not work in line with comprehensive principles»

«Ever since the beginning of the 90s, ports in Latvia have composed into an interesting legal formation called derived public persons. If we look at the Baltic Sea region, we will find no other country in such a situation. Those who lobby this model say they base it on the principles employed by Rotterdam port. However, Rotterdam port has been a public capital association since 2004,» says Linkaits.

This is why the minister believes there is no reason for Latvian ports to not work in line with comprehensive principles. «If we look at strategic infrastructure – airports, railway, high-voltage power lines, optic cables, forests and roads – all of them are state capital associations that work in accordance with comprehensive principles and have no problems with this legal structure.»

Why should anything be changed in relation to ports? Is it not possible to keep working as usual with ports? Linkaits stresses that derived public persons do not take responsibility in crisis situations, because there isn’t anyone who can. «There is either no responsibility or it is usually put on the shoulders of the freeport’s CEO, whereas the management board, which is responsible for making all the most important strategic decisions has no real responsibility.» This results in the situation when the ruling board has no accountability.

Reforming ports into state capital associations would help clearly establish that the company’s board is responsible for all of their decisions, actions and inaction «like a sensible owner», says the minister.

He believes it would prove an effective mechanism for supervising and controlling management boards’ decisions and the way decisions are made.

Linkaits also notes the role of the ministry is more symbolic now. «It represents movement towards abolishment of illegal and pointless decisions. This is also the only case when the ministry can interfere in port activities. This should not be the case,» says the minister.

«Earn second wage at the freeport even though you come to meetings once a month»

One other major problem mentioned by Linkaits is that port management often has no clear goals. On top of that, their wages are often ‘inflated’. There is also the matter on control over decisions – accountability and monitoring, said the minister. «We know there are many people who earn second wages at freeports even though they show up for meetings once a month. This needs to change.»

Wages of port board members often reach wages paid to state capital association council members. «Because they basically do the same jobs,» adds Linkaits.

He stresses that Transport Ministry had previously planned to develop new proposals for accountability at ports and their supervisory measures, adapting rules to guidelines of OECD.


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  1. Zerry says:

    Excellent opening. Hopefully, we can see progress and result.
    Generally the word “responsible” is not so known in Latvia. It´s pure fact that in case of problems nobody uses to be responsible for anything.

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