Ex-PM Karins says he was not informed about national funding required for Rail Baltica

  • 2024-06-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Former prime minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) says he was not informed during his premiership that national funding was required to implement the Rail Baltica railway project. 

Earlier, Auditor General Edgars Korcagins told reporters that the then transport minister, Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party), made decisions and definitely knew about changes in the project.  The State Audit Office, however, noted that the government should have shown its initiative and request this funding related information from the Transport Ministry.

"Clearly, this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the ministry needs to speak a clear language, but on the other, the government also needs to play a more active role and follow the implementation of such an ambitious project," the auditor general concluded.

Asked to comment on his responsibility and follow-up of the project, Karins told LETA that the implementation of the project was always on the agenda of the Baltic prime ministers' meetings, and the discussions were only about a more efficient management of the project.

The Karinis-led government also heard several reports from the Transport Ministry on the project, but as regards financing, "the information was that it was available for the project from the European Union and no national funding was needed".

Finance Minister Arvils Aseradens (New Unity) also said on Latvian Radio today that much of the responsibility for the current situation lies with the Transport Ministry, including former transport minister Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party), who continuously expanded the project.

"If the minister says all the time that everything is fine, that it is EU money, there is no reason not to believe him. Janis Vitenbergs (National Alliance) was the first transport minister to admit last year that things are not good," said Aseradens.

As reported, there is currently no clarity on the model of operation and management of the Rail Baltica railway line, according to the report on the Rail Baltica project presented by the supreme audit institutions of the Baltic states.

According to the latest Rail Baltica cost-benefit analysis, the total cost of the line in the Baltics could reach EUR 23.8 billion, including EUR 15.3 billion for the first phase of the project in the Baltics and EUR 6.4 billion in Latvia. A previous cost-benefit analysis in 2017 estimated the total cost of the project at EUR 5.8 billion.