Sky's the limit for Berzins

  • 2007-08-28
  • From wire reports
RIGA 's Former Latvian prime minister Andris Berzins is being buffetted by political turbulence after calling for politicians to be reimbursed for their business class flights.

Berzins submitted the proposal for consideration by the parliament, saying that the hardships of travelling economy class was preventing lawmakers from doing their jobs. Berzins' stance was based on "repetitive experience of foreign travel, when after several hours of travel lawmakers have to start performing their duties," he said. Berzins underscored that "exhaustion accumulated during travel interferes with performance of duties."

Berzins proposed to change the current rules so that parliamentarians would be able to claim the costs of business class travel on journeys of more than six hours' duration, reducing what he called the "inconvenience of movement, and luggage problems that arise during economy class travel."

However, the LPP/LC politician's high-flying proposal was immediately brought back down to earth by the reaction of other members of parliament.

Ruling People's Party faction head Maris Kucinskis told BNS that his group will not support the proposal. In his opinion, there is not much difference between business class and economy class flights, apart from "a sandwich", adding that he has hardly ever traveled by plane for work purposes.

The Greens' and Farmers' Union faction head Augusts Brigmanis agreed that lawmakers do not need such a bonus, while TB/LNNK parliamentary faction head Maris Grinblats described the proposal as a waste of money, suggesting that Berzins "should use trains more often" on his trips.

Berzins' proposal will not be supported by opposition, either.

Harmony Centerfaction head Janis Urbanovics pointed out that the proposal was badly timed. "There is another problem... they are complaining about bad times, that there is no money for the old ones and the sick ones, and at this time... there is a proposal on extras," said Urbanovics.

Current prime minister Aigars Kalvitis also seemed unimpressed by Berzins' proposal. "I do not see much difference between economy and business class. I, as a prime minister, often fly in economy class," he claimed.