Port businessmen still concerned about the state entering the commercial sector

So far the problem with port management has been based in personalities and corruption, not regulations, said participants of panel discussions about the role of ports in Latvia’s development.
Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, as a representative of Ventspils Freeport, said at the panel discussion that the cause of the reform is not the management model in of itself – it is its poor execution. Meaning, the existing management model is discredited because of selfish interests of specific people.
He also said the objective of Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits is understandable, and it is intended to secure the adoption of good management principles recommended by OECD. «We urge the minister to balance the interests of the three whales – state, management and businesses. If this is done, businesses and the port will be better off.»
During the discussion lawyer Artūrs Spīgulis turned attention towards the litigations involving Freeport authorities. He explains that the court has ruled that authorities of freeports were not allowed to engage in service provision when they did. The new law amendments provide them with this option, which, according to Spīgulis, goes against the ruling of the court.
Additionally, Spīgulis stressed that the duty of port authorities is providing an environment that allows businessmen to work successfully.
Liepāja port tenants association’s representative Ainars Kreics noted at the panel discussion: «If port authorities are allowed to provide stevedore services, it will create threats for companies that already provide such services.»
Kreics voiced concerns on behalf of businessmen in regards to law amendments that permit ports to perform commercial activities on their own.
Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits said amendments are necessary and that ports will be reorganized in accordance with the government’s plan to ensure everything runs in line with OECD good management principles.
The panel discussion took place on Thursday, 29 October, and was organized by Irish, UK, Swiss chambers of commerce and Vitol in cooperation with Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics.