RIGA - Following several government partners' objections to the port reform bill, the Cabinet of Ministers on Thursday postponed review of the bill and agreed to discuss it with the social partners once again.
Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) emphasized that all the parties were in agreement about the need to change the port management system, as the current system was not working.
Karins asked the Ports' Council and National Trilateral Cooperation Council to repeatedly review the legislation in two weeks time.
"We have a clear political agreement on the port reform. But we will respect our social partners' opinion," said Karins, adding that he did not hope for a unanimous agreement on the matter.
Karins said that the amendments to the Law on Ports could be reviewed two weeks later, adding that some aspects of the reform could be changed.
Transport Minister Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) and other ministers from his party - Justice Minister Janis Bordans and Education and Science Minister Ilga Suplinska - expressed strong support for the reform.
The government put off review of the reform following requests from the Free Trade Union Confederation, Ventspils City Council, Association of Local and Regional Governments, Latvian Employers' Confederation, port companies' representatives, and law firm Cobalt.
As reported, the amendments stipulate that state companies will be set up for the management of the freeports of Riga and Ventspils, and later also Liepaja Special Economic Zone, in which local governments could also own shares.
The amendments to the Law on Ports and Liepaja Liepaja Special Economic Zone Law state that, on behalf of the state, shares in these companies will be held by the Transport Ministry (40 percent of state shares), Finance Ministry (20 percent), Economic Ministry (20 percent), and Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry (20 percent).
The amendments stipulate that local governments will also be shareholders in the new companies and own up to one-third of the companies' shares, while private companies operating at the ports will be offered to join consultative councils of the ports' authorities, which will enable the companies to get involved in the ports' development and maintain dialog with the ports' authorities.