Municipalities are very concerned about the financial situation; reserves are exhausted

Municipalities are very concerned about the financial situation; reserves are exhausted
Municipalities are very concerned about the financial situation; reserves are exhausted

The Ministry of Transport has always managed areas that are very close and of great interest to Latvian municipalities. Roads, public transport, post and other services. None of this has lost its relevance even now.

And at least once every 12 months, the heads of local authorities have the opportunity to directly question representatives from the Ministry of Transport about all the painful issues. This is how it is today, when the annual negotiations of the parties are held in the Union of Local Governments of Latvia.

For Latvian local governments, this day is also a symbolic starting shot, meeting with line ministries and preparing for next year’s state budget. The Minister of Transport came to the meeting seemingly in a good mood, and from the very beginning emphasized that he felt on the same page with local authorities on a wide range of issues.

Kaspars Briskens (P)

Minister of Transport

I see no reason for disagreement, rather we are allies. In the negotiations with the planning regional development councils, it is clear that the first big three are roads, roads, roads, then there are public transport, postal services.

There were no specific questions. For example, the mayor of Kārsava Gunārs Upenieks (Latvian Farmers’ Union) drew attention to the fact that visibly overloaded transit trucks, which could be driven only on the main roads, block the roads in the municipality and probably do not pay the road usage fee.

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“Kazakhs and Uzbeks come to us. Along the border with machines that clearly do not have the carrying capacity. Today they drive on your roads that you then try to fix and frankly it’s a waste of money. I’m not even talking about security,” said Upenieks.

Bryshken pointed out: “We’re funding six mobile scales so that the police… Clearly, this is a problem that definitely needs to be tackled. It’s a problem for road infrastructure and everything else.”

Gunārs Upenieks (Latvian Farmers’ Union)

Chairman of the municipal council of Krāslava region

I haven’t seen the scales here for years, but what should they do at the border, 300 meters from the border, where there is an emergency situation. What to do with the wagons that drive today. They have nothing to do there. There are category A roads and that’s it, friends! What are those cars doing when I meet them on the road… I don’t know what they are doing there.

On the other hand, the mayor of Jēkabpils, Raivis Ragainis (Green Party of Latvia), expressed his confusion regarding the goals of the so-called green course for the country in the field of transport, for example, about electromobility in school transport.

“One such bus costs me 600 thousand with the purchase of the entire station. Tell me, does the municipality make any sense of the bus? Europe gives money, we could buy, but as it turns out, the municipality will not make any profit in this sector, therefore VAT cannot be recovered. I have to borrow from the State Treasury so that I can pay VAT to the state,” said Ragainis.

On the other hand, Jānis Meirāns (P), advisor to the Minister of Traffic, stated: “It is probably a problem. We put it inside the piggy bank. If you need to negotiate support through the Ministry of Finance, of course there are solutions.”

In general, the day was without major disputes – quite simply, both parties agree that the government should allocate more money to the Ministry of Transport. This is said to be only one of the departments where the local authorities do not have enough money, and the government should do something.

“There are no other options here, you just have to be heard. In four years, local governments have exhausted their reserves. We see that the number of working days is being reduced, there are questions about the non-absorption of funds from the European Union’s structural funds. Different problems in different places. If the budgets were drawn up this year and the budgets of all municipalities were accepted, then next year under the same conditions it will simply no longer be possible,” said Gints Kaminskis, chairman of the Union of Latvian Municipalities.

As usual, this annual cycle of regional government and ministerial budget negotiations will end in the autumn, with a meeting with the finance minister and the head of government.

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The article is in Latvian

Tags: Municipalities concerned financial situation reserves exhausted


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