Latvia, Legislation, Port, Transport, USA

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American Chamber of Commerce: Latvian ports must offer conditions equal to all

Alla Petrova, , BC, Riga, 02.07.2012.Print version
Latvian ports must offer conditions equal for all companies and businessmen, as the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia President Ivars Slokenbergs said in an interview with Latvian State Radio today.

The Transport Ministry has set up a task force for improving the Law on Ports, following a proposal suggested by the Reform Party following complaints filed by the American Chamber of Commerce and the so-called Ventspils opposition, writes LETA.


The American Chamber of Commerce is an organization registered in Latvia, representing many local companies and run by Latvian residents, and the chamber is interested in improving the business environment in Latvia, said Slokenbergs. The question is if the owner of Latvian ports – the nation of Latvia – benefits from the operations of the freeports, he explained.


The American Chamber of Commerce has been analyzing the situation at the freeports of Latvia for one year, and it has been invited by Saeima to present its opinions regarding the pending amendments to the Law on Ports.


Addressing Saeima Economy, Agrarian, Environmental and Regional Development Committee, representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce stressed that transparency in the operations of ports' operations had to be improved, that the ports' mission and goals had to be stated clearly, and that equal competition should be enforced at Latvia's ports.


The meetings of the ports' managing boards should be open so persons interested in the matters to be discussed could attend these meetings. Also, information on ports' decisions and their annual reports should be released on a regular basis. Companies should have equal opportunities to use port infrastructure, and to contest freeport boards' decisions to the Administrative Court if necessary, believes the American Chamber of Commerce.


As reported, the new Freeport of Riga board member Girts Greiskalns told members of the press on June 26 that, taking into account the conflicting information about the operations of the port, it is necessary to find a solution so that the port's operations are determined by understandable "rules of the game".


Earlier that day, the government approved a proposal to release Economy Ministry's representative on the board of the Riga Port, Olafs Pulks (Unity), and replace him with the Foreign Investors Council in Latvia Executive Director Greiskalns.


According to Greiskalns, it must be understood what are the port's goals, how these goals are put forward, as well as evaluate whether these goals have been achieved. The second important area is to improve the way the port is administered, so to ensure transparent decisions. Greiskalns also mentioned that competition must also be improve at the port.


Greiskalns explained that information has been received from business representatives and the Competition Council, and completely opposite information from the port. "We must find out where this conflicting information comes from," Greiskalns added.


The new Freeport of Riga board member pointed out that his main task is to work in the interests of the state and not succumb to political influence.

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