In a slap to the face the people of Riga, City Council members have decided to give permission for commercial development along the right bank of the Daugava river to the controversial two-story floating restaurant center - Riga Marine City - as proposed by Ritvars Ozols. The project, which never went before public discussion, and for which the city will receive a debatably low rent for the space, received its approval on Nov. 20 from Riga City Council’s Investment and Business Ventures Promotion Council, reports LETA. “The contract for use of the embankment will be very strict. The city council will halt construction if it is not satisfied with the look of the wharves, plus it will demand a sufficient rental fee,” promises the promoter of the project Deputy Mayor Ainars Slesers (Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’sWay). “A public tender needs to be organized… for implementing any development project on the riverbank,” Auditor General Inguna Sudraba said of the project. She expressed incomprehension as to why city councilmen continue “to do things in a non-transparent way.”
The Riga City Council’s Social Affairs Committee decided on the allocation of a one-time 30 lats’ (42 euros) benefit payment for needy residents to buy food, reports LETA. The welfare department says that the number of social services’ users continues to increase because of the rising number of unemployed persons, limited-means families as well as more debt-ridden residents, who turn to the social services for help. In order to strengthen Rigans’ confidence in the local government, and to financially support the most vulnerable social groups, regulations need to be adopted so these groups could receive aid for the purchase of food. The Welfare Department estimates that 36,445 people could claim the benefit, meaning funding of 1.2 million lats is needed. Of this amount, 200,000 lats will be allocated by amending the Riga budget for this year, and the remaining 1 million lats comes from the budget for the next year. This would be the same Christmas benefit that the Riga City Council used to allot each year in the past.