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Latvijas Ceļu būvētājs hopes politicians are tired of their indecisiveness

Andris Bērziņš/flickr.com.
«There is no money, roads continue getting worse, residents continue getting more and more dissatisfied, politicians continue promising, and all this seems a bit like an old and boring film that is shown again and again,» says chairman of Latvijas Ceļu būvētājs Andris Bērziņš.

The association notes that after many years of requests from the entire industry and LCB, the Saeima has finally made steps towards proper funding of the road industry. The parliament has approved deputy Anrijs Matīss’ proposal and has asked the government to approve the plan to increase funding for roads in the state budget programme before 1 July 2018. It is planned to divert an additional 80% from excise tax on fuel for this initiative.
 

«Unfortunately, the Saeima has forgotten to make it clear when the industry can expect to receive those 80%: the government is free to schedule everything as far as 2025 or 2225. We can reveal a little secret – in the past ten years the Saeima has actively used the option to postpone allocation of actual funding to a much later date. It is a sort of tradition,» comments Bērziņš.
 

Still, LCB hopes that things turn out differently this time, and that roads will be provided with appropriate funding in 2020.
 

LCB also hopes that the so-called ‘Smilšu iela miracle’ takes place and Finance Ministry does not use its remaining right to decline Transport Ministry’s plans using the line: the State Budget Law says otherwise. «The ministry has acted this way for years. The result of this behaviour is the current state of roads,» Bērziņš says.
 

He hopes the Cabinet of Ministers will at least find the will and strength to review the proposal without resorting to the usual «taking into consideration» (forgetting, non-compliance and throwing it into the bin, in reality).
 

Bērziņš says: «Unfortunately, experience left from previous years shows that politicians always promise to allocate money to road maintenance, develop different development plans, perform audits and inspections, come up with different schedules right around elections. They do not, however, keep their promises in the end».
 

He adds that Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ government did the same with the Road Organization programme a couple of months ago. This programme was originally promised by Laimdota Straujuma when she was the prime minister. The programme was even shown to the European Commission to secure funding.
 

«If things play out the same way again, LCB predicts that the next government will hang their heads and conclude what a big hole the previous government left the industry in. They will work to come up with new programmes and schedules. Unfortunately, no one will take the time to check if Latvia still has a road and bridge industry,» says LCB chairman.
 

Nevertheless, LCB is optimistic and hopes that politicians have grown tired of their own indecisiveness by now, and that at least some of them have the will to pull Latvia from this hole. «Otherwise the industry will meet 2019-2020 financial years, when EU funding for roads and bridges is set to end, with a quadruple decline in state and municipal orders, which will be painful the most for regional and local roads».

BNN

06-12-2017
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