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Ceturtdiena 09.04.2020 | Name days: Valērija, Žubīte

Unexpectedly, Riga City Council refuses to provide funding to Rīgas satiksme

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Monday, 28 October, Riga City Council’s Finance and Administration Affairs Committee supported amendments to the 2019 budget. At the same time, for the first time in years members of the committee approved no plans for additional funding allocation to public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme.

Opposition deputies traditionally protested amendments to the budget. Most coalition city council deputies supported it.

The first viewing of the budget took place 18 October, but because coalition deputies failed to reach an agreement on one of the submitted proposals, the meeting was postponed for one and half weeks.

In total, coalition representatives had submitted two proposals. Deputies Artūrs Hroļenko and Oļegs Burovs proposed allocating EUR 100 000 for energy efficiency improvement efforts for residential homes until the end of the year.

Long discussions took place over the second submitted proposal. Members of the city council had proposed allocating EUR 40 000 to Riga Zoological Garden, EUR 14 000 for the promotion of energy efficiency of residential homes, as well as EUR 250 000 – for the procurement of IT technologies for Riga’s schools.

In total, proposals covered the use of finances worth EUR 300 000. Money was suggested to be taken from funding originally planned for basketball clubs TTT Riga and VEF Riga. The city council had agreed to allocate funds for both basketball clubs at the beginning of the year.

Discussions revolved around whether or not to support the proposal, because money for aforementioned activities is already covered in amendments.

More on this topic: Rīgas satiksme expects profits, yet asks EUR 140 mln from Riga budget

Even though members of the city council had discussed all there was to discuss at the previous meeting today, deputy Eiženija Aldermane still proposed preserving EUR 300 000 funding for basketball programmes and EUR 250 000 for computer technologies procurement as additional finances.

Riga City Council’s Finance Department head Uldis Rakstiņš said this proposal is realistic and it could be guaranteed without changing the total volume of expenditures.

Vjačeslavs Stepaņenko also requested allocating EUR 40 000 for the zoological garden, to which Rakstiņš replied by saying that financiers have found the money to provide funding of only EUR 20 000.

Authors of the proposal that had caused disputes agreed to the compromise and members of the city council voted in favour of allocating EUR 250 000 for IT technology procurement and EUR 20 000 for Riga Zoological Garden while also maintaining EUR 300 000 for basketball clubs. The proposal from Hroļenko and Burovs was also supported.

The proposal to allocate EUR 14 000 for Riga Energy Agency was withdrawn.

For Rīgas satiksme it was proposed to allocate EUR 1.5 million from state transfers. The company’s management had requested an additional amount of EUR 2.9 million. This proposal was not supported in the end, which came as a surprise considering the city council traditionally supported the company in the past. For example, last year the company was provided with EUR 22.5 million.

Explaining this decision, Rakstiņš said the company is already expected to conclude the year with profits of EUR 1.3 million without the aforementioned grant. This is why the city council decided to not allocate funds, because together with state grant of EUR 9.68 million the company will have received EUR 139.68 million this year.

The finance department management was questioned by the opposition for approximately 40 minutes even though traditionally it takes several hours to decide on the budget. As opposition deputies explained – the Budget Committee, which includes members from all factions, had the biggest say.

Amendments mention that the capital city’s revenue this year is EUR 8.62 million below the initial plan, whereas expenditures have declined EUR 33.44 million. Budget deficit has declined to EUR 86.5 million instead of the initially planned EUR 110.07 million.

Read also: Rīgas satiksme evaluates corruption in 406 posts. Board members and managers at risk

At the beginning of the year it was planned budget revenue would reach EUR 972.64 million, but in amendments it has declined to EUR 963.77 million. Expenditures were planned at EUR 1.083 billion, now they have been reduced to EUR 1.050 billion.

Budget amendments detail plans for Riga City Council to allocate EUR 265 661 for the Real Estate Property Department, EUR 228 923 for the Housing and Environment Department, EUR 2.76 million for Education, Culture and Sports Department and EUR 986 372 for the Welfare Department.

Additional finances are also planned for the executive directorates: Eastern Executive Directorate will receive EUR 60 405, Pārdaugava Executive Directorate will receive EUR 64 862, and the Northern Executive Directorate will receive EUR 44 635.

Riga Municipal Police’s expenditure increase is planned at EUR 120 000, Rīgas gaisma’s increase is EUR 38 720, and that of Riga Monument Agency is EUR 17 198.

Riga Zoological Garden will receive EUR 60 000. Funding of EUR 850 000 will be provided for the procurement of IT technologies for schools in Riga.

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