Border issues need to be approached from both sides

  • 2007-11-28
  • In cooperation with BNS

RIGA -- Current methods of investment in Latvian-Russian border controlposts do not make economic sense, according to Latvia's state auditor, Inguna Sudraba.

Speaking on the LTV  television channel, Sudraba said that it makes no sense for the lion's share of investment in border controls to come from only one of the countries involved. Her comments came after her department conducted an investigation into how efficient - or otherwise - border spending is in its current form.

"We think that in order to regulate the traffic it is important toensure similar throughput of vehicles on both sides. If one of the parties isinvesting more, the trucks will keep queuing, as the other party would not beable to accommodate these. It is uneconomic action, uneconomic spending, asthere will be no return on these investments," she explained.

When asked how the situation could be solved, Sudraba said that work inseveral directions is necessary, including discussion and coordination of theplans by the responsible institutions, as well as reassessment of economicgrounds for the investments.

She expressed surprised that no dialogue and coordination of opinions with the Russianside has been reached, as the State Audit Office experience shows that Russianside is genuinely interested in solving the problem of long lines of trucks queueing to cross from Latvia to Russia.

Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis told LNT on Wednesday that theordering of the border issue is being coordinated. "It cannot lackcoordination, especially because the EU funds will be involved for Russiangovernment as well," the prime minister said, adding that coordinationis a difficult process and it is not always possible to stick to agreements.

He said that Latvian and Russian officials have agreed that it is necessaryto organize an electronic registration system in order to speed up border checks.

"So, the work is in progress, but not everything can be solved in aday. If it was so easy, Finland would not have a 50 kilometer-longqueue," said Kalvitis, who is due to step down on Dec. 5.

The State Audit Office during the audit assessed how useful and effectivethe work of institutions involved in the process is, and what is the return ofstate investment in construction of new roads, parking lots and upgrading ofborder control posts.

The Latvian Transport Ministry, under minister Ainars Slesers, has applied to the prosecutor'soffice with a request to assess the increased interest of the State AuditOffice in container traffic crossing the border and the organization of queueing trucks at border crossing posts. Slesers has been outspoken in his criticism of Sudraba's investigative accountants, not least because they uncovered large overspends in his department.

Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis attempted to sack anti-corruption boss Aleksejs Loskutovs over far less serious accounting discrepancies, but no substantive action has been taken against Slesers or other overspending ministers.

Sudraba says she is prepared to sue Latvian Transport Minister Ainars Slesers in court.