Latvia: Heat is on but not going strong

  • 2010-10-20
  • From wire reports

RIGA - A discussion organized on the management of residential buildings in Latvia found that over the past few winters, the level of household heating debt has grown by around 30 percent, reports 
Tatjana Kulesova, commercial director of the heating company Rigas Siltums, indicated that the debt of Riga inhabitants on October 15 totaled 1.5 million lats (2.13 million euros), with 97 percent of debt eventually being cleared. “Compared with last year, the current situation is about 2 percent worse. Things are satisfactory at the moment; the majority of apartment building management companies have carried out 100 percent payments for heating services and are not facing any problems with switching on heating for the current season,” she explained.

Kulesova indicated that heating has currently been switched on for around 75 percent of the overall number of clients. Of course, not all companies had managed to deal with debt problems, and those still to pay are under pressure to resolve these problems in the nearest possible future, she stressed.

Aino Salmins, advisor at the Latvian Association of Local Governments, revealed that the nationwide situation has worsened recently. “Comparing the latest figures with those from May, we see that the burden of debt is growing rapidly, as the amount of debt reduced only very slightly during the warm summer season. On May 1, the total heating debt was 25 million lats, while on September 1 it was 19.7 million lats, including 13 million lats among Latvia’s major cities. Among the nine largest cities, the level of debt was 20 percent larger than during the previous heating season, equivalent to one and a half months of unpaid heating bills,” explained Salmins.

Meanwhile, Girts Beikmanis, chairman of the Latvian Real Estate Management Association, claimed that the overall situation in Riga is worse than it appears, as while 1.5 million lats is owed to Rigas Siltums, the total level of debts owed to building management companies amounts to several million lats, with debt levels increasing by around 30 percent over the past few years.

Rigas Siltums, Riga’s central heating company, reports that as of Oct. 18, central heat has been turned on in 80.7 percent of buildings in Riga that uses its services.
Of 7,383 buildings supplied by Rigas Siltums, currently 5,956 of them have heat on at this time.
Of municipal schools, the heat is now on for 87.3 percent, 91.2 percent of hospitals and clinics are connected as well.
Earlier this month, board member Normunds Talcis, was nominated as the company’s board chairman, replacing the outgoing Aris Zigurs, as Rigas Siltums Council Chairman Vjaceslavs Stepanenko (For A Good Latvia/Latvia’s Way) told LETA.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Rigas Siltums board members: Zigurs, Stepanenko, the Economy Ministry’s representative Klavs Olsteins and Talcis.
Zigurs was chosen for the job as board chairman at the joint-stock power utility company Latvenergo. Economy Ministry State Secretary Juris Puce said that Zigurs was selected because of his considerable experience in successfully running a major energy company (Rigas Siltums). Zigurs also has an impeccable reputation, said Puce.
Zigurs will begin his new job, but he told the business portal that he would remain in his current job at Rigas Siltums for at least one month.