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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 09.07.2020, 17:18

State to take over ports of Riga and Ventspils

BC, Riga, 10.12.2019.Print version
After the US Treasury's decision to imopse sanctions on Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs (For Latvia and Ventspils) and four legal entities, including Ventspils Freeport Authority, the Latvian state is taking over the ports of Riga and Ventspils, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) told journalists Tuesday.

The Transport Ministry is drawing up amendments to the Law on Ports to enable the government to take control of the two ports. The Cabinet of Ministers will decide on their adoption at an extraordinary sitting on Wednesday, December 11.

The legislative amendments are necessary to separate the entity sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury from the operations of the Freeport of Ventspils. "The port's takeover by the state completely severs all its connections with the sanctioned person," Karins said. 

He indicated that this is being done to lessen the US sanctions' negative impact on the Latvian economy and population.

Transport Minister Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) said that the text of the amendments would be ready by tomorrow's extraordinary government meeting. After the government takes control of the ports, they will no longer have municipal representatives on their boards. 

The transport minister said that the transit business sector is going through a turbulent phase and it is necessary to do everything to lessen the US sanctions' impact on Ventspils Port, the 38 companies based in this port and residents of Ventspils. 

"Ventspils is Latvia's second largest port, it has loans and major investment projects. This port is an important element of Latvia's transit business, so I hope that our measures will reduce the negative effect of the US' decision," said Linkaits.

Explaining the necessity to also take over the Freeport of Riga, Linkaits said that Riga and Ventspils are Latvia's two largest ports and some "individuals and legal entities" on the US sanctions list "have certain influence also in Riga". 

"To prevent the possibility of sanctions or restrictions being applied also to Riga Port our proactive measure is to deal with the ports' management issues," Linkaits said. 

Karins pointed to management problems in Riga Port and said that the government would tackle the management issues in both ports simultaneously.

Asked if after the adoption of the amendment Latvia might ask the US to remove the Freeport of Ventspils from the sanctions list, Linkaits said that first it is necessary to make sure that no sanctioned individual or legal entity can influence the port. Only then steps can be taken to ensure the port's unrestricted functioning. 

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