Jurmala, Port, Transport

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 13.07.2020, 01:26

Coalition decides to set up new state-owned company Ventas Osta

BC, Riga, 16.12.2019.Print version
To deal with an emergency in connection with Freeport of Ventspils operations, the coalition today decided to set up a new state-owned joint stock company that would take over the rights, obligations and functions of the Freeport of Ventspils, informed LETA/BNS.

Transport Minister Talis Linkauts (New Conservative Party, JKP) told journalists after today's coalition cooperation meeting that the coalition partners agreed to put before the government a decree on the establishment of a new joint stock company that would take over the rights, obligations and functions of the Freeport of Ventspils. To legally turn the port's functions over to the new company, respective amendments will be proposed to the Law on Ports and the Law on the Freeport of Ventspils. 

"Our task is to quickly set up a new structure that would be authorized to conclude agreements with tenants in the port's territory and with shipping agents, to ensure the arrival of ships at the port," the transport minister said. 

The new state-owned company might be called Ventas Osta (Venta Port) and its supervisory board would include representatives of four ministries, which would delegate its representatives to the company's supervisory board. The Freeport of Riga Authority would continue to exist for now to hand over all the port's assets to the new state-owned company.

It is planned that the members of the new company's supervisory board will be appointed without organizing a tender. "We have an emergency, and it has to be dealt with. We will appoint board members right away," said Linkaits, adding that a new port management concept has to be submitted to Saeima by July 1 and that this concept will also provide a new, improved procedure for appointing members of the management and supervisory boards.

It is not clear yet who might be appointed to the company's management and supervisory boards. "The search process is under way. This is a matter of a couple of days," Linkaits said, noting that it is not easy to persuade someone to undertake the task of setting up a company from scratch. 

The minister said that operations at the port of Ventspils are ongoing but that there is uncertainty and concerns about the future. "It is our duty to provide legal certainty as soon as possible, so that on January 1 all business operations are handed over to the new structure,"  the politician said. 

As reported, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) last Thursday ordered the creation of a task force led by Minister of Transport Talis Linkaits to ensure the continued operation of the Freeport of Ventspils.

The task force is being set up to promote effective coordination and to ensure the continued operation of the Freeport of Ventspils and reduce the risk of corruption, thereby reducing the impact of US sanctions on Latvia's transit system and the economy at large.

The task force will be headed by Linkaits, and will also be made up of Finance Minister Janis Reirs (New Unity), Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity), Justice Minister Janis Bordans (New Conservative Party), Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro (KPV LV), Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Puce (For Development), as well as Minister of Agriculture Kaspars Gerhards.

Also working on the task force will be Bank of Latvia President Martins Kazaks, the chairwoman of the Financial Capital and Market Commission Santa Purgaile, the head of the State Treasury Kaspars Abolins, as well as the head of the prime minister's bureau Janis Patmalnieks.

As reported, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) on December 9 imposed sanctions on a number of natural and legal persons in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including on Latvia's Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, based on the so-called Magnitsky act.

OFAC has listed four organizations that belong to or are controlled by Lembergs - Vetspils Freeport Administration, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Agency, and the Latvian Transport Business Association.

To deal with Lembergs' influence in the Freeport of Ventspils, the government on Wednesday decided to take over the ports of Ventspils and Riga. 

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