RIGA - Rising fuel prices have prompted fears that the state police may soon be unable to afford petrol 's a situation that could hamper investigations if not resolved in coming months.
In an interview with the Latvian-language daily Latvijas Avize, state police chief Aldis Lieljuksis said the organization currently spends more than half of its budget on petrol.
"We have spent 54 percent of the annual budget for fuel, even though we could afford to spend only 42 percent. We have not used more fuel, but the high fuel prices make us restrict fuel consumption. There are no other options," Lieljuksis said.
"We should ask additional financing from the government, but I am not sure we will receive it. [If] we are not able to react to all calls, I will have to explain that situation," he said.
Lieljuksis noted that while it is still possible to respond to all calls, it might prove too costly to launch full criminal procedures for minor crimes such as petty theft.
"Of course, the guilty person should be punished, but administrative instruments should be used 's it would be a shorter, cheaper process," he said.
State police spokeswoman Ieva Rekne said that meanwhile, the police will continue with their routine patrols and hold out hope that the government will pass a set of budget amendments that allocate more money to the struggling police force.
"At the moment there is not a problem with petrol, but the budget for this year was made with the prices of last year, [and] now we are afraid that it will not be enough for the full year," Rekne said.
"We hope that this week the new changes [to the budget] will be accepted, and there will be money for the state police," she said.
Rekne noted that even if the budget amendments fail to pass, the police force would still have a few months to find ways to conserve petrol.
Parliament is expected to vote on numerous budget amendments 's including increased state police funding 's on July 17, during its last scheduled meeting before the summer recess.
Despite budgetary restrictions, the police have a number of large investments in modern crime-fighting technologies in the pipeline.
Oil prices have spiraled upward in recent months, hovering around 145 dollars (91 euros) as The Baltic Times went to press 's up from 75 dollars per barrel in July 2007.