Business leaders fault government ‘elite’

  • 2011-05-25
  • From wire reports

RIGA - President Valdis Zatlers had a meeting with several dozen Latvian businessmen on May 16, who told the president that they were concerned about the development of an “administrative bourgeoisie” in Latvia, and the non-existence of a national strategy plan, reports news agency LETA. “Administrative bourgeoisie” stands for officials and public servants who consider their jobs a kind of business, competing with entreprenuers in their respective fields, said Itera Latvija CEO Juris Savickis. According to Savickis, businesspeople believe that bureaucracy must be reduced 70 percent to 90 percent.

Baltcom TV head Peteris Smidre agreed with Savickis, adding that employees at government agencies often “have much more money than businesspeople, even if they are not involved in any business.” It has to be taken into account that administration cannot change itself, which is why an independent international audit of public administration must be carried out, and results of the audit handed in to Saeima or the president.

However, Martins Bicevskis, president of the Association of Latvian Commercial Banks, said that if businesspeople believed that there was too much bureaucracy, the government “may have failed to communicate how much the government apparatus has been reduced the past three years.” This comment, though, is still meaningless if government is still too large.
Zatlers told the businesspeople there were two tasks that should receive extra attention to facilitate the development of various businesses in Latvia. First is to make sure that the labor force is trained as quickly as possible and suits the needs of employers. The second task is to do better than neighbor countries regarding business environment ratings (for instance, the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ or the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index).

Zatlers also believes that Latvia must be able to do more than the other Baltic region countries in removing various bureaucratic obstacles so that Latvia would have an attractive business environment.