RIGA - The board of Riga Free Port on Dec. 13 approved an average 30 percent increase in fees. Spokesman Karlis Leiskalns told journalists that the new fees would take effect five days after their publication in the official newspaper, Latvijas Vestnesis.
The money collected in port fees will be used for development of the infrastructure at the port and deepening it. Leiskalns stressed that the increase would have insignificant effect on total transport costs by clients as port fees account for only 1-2 percent of total costs.
According to the fee increase plan, the fee for container cargoes will grow by 6 's 9 percent and the fee for passenger ships by 6 percent. Leiskalns said that even after the planned hike, passenger fees at the port would be lower than in Tallinn's port.
Riga Mayor Aivars Aksenoks, who is also a board member, said that the higher fees would not slow down passenger and cargo flows at the port. He pointed out that the port had not raised its fees for several years and the fees represented only a very small part of total costs. Not everyone agrees. The Latvian Stevedore Association fears, however, that a 30 percent average increase will ultimately reduce cargo turnover at the port. "Any increase of charges is unpleasant, especially considering the current situation of stevedores when there isn't an abundance of cargo. There will be even less in future," said association member Uldis Papans.
Zigmunds Jankovskis, managing director of DFDS Tor Line, the only ferry company operating out of Riga Port, told the Baltic News Service that he had not yet studied the port fee increase plan, but "a 6 percent raise [for passenger ships] is better than a 16 percent or 60 percent increase."
Previously Riga Port's board had prepared three proposals for raising the port fees, suggesting the fee increase between 10 percent and 45 percent.