Immigration Law fails target

  • 2011-08-03
  • From wire reports

More promises from Ainars Slesers.

RIGA - Talks with prospective investors and Jurmala City Council about construction of new concert halls and hotels in Jurmala and Riga will come to a close in the coming months, and implementation of these projects should start next year, claimed Saeima member Ainars Slesers (Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way) at a press conference on July 29, reports
Thanks to the amendments to the Immigration Law, proposed by Slesers, which entitle investors in real estate to apply for a Latvian residence permit, investors’ activity has increased significantly. In one year’s time, he says, investments worth more than 100 million lats (142.8 million euros) have been received in Latvia.

The pop-music contest ‘New Wave’ also attracts much attention from Russia and other C.I.S. countries. “Everyone” knows that Dzintari Concert Hall is obsolete and in need of reconstruction, and that a new concert hall must be built, said Slesers.
Slesers says that he has met many prospective investors who would be prepared to provide funds for such projects. “Show business in Latvia can be elevated to a new level, but for this, various large-scale events must take place in not only Jurmala, but also in Riga, and not just for one week in the summer but all year round. Riga definitely needs a new concert hall that should be built in coordination with hotels, and these hotels should have at least 1,000 to 1,500 rooms,” he said.
Slesers said that more information about these projects would be released in the near future.

One of the organizers of ‘New Wave 2011,’ Russian composer Igor Krutoy, added that the contest, which this year marks its tenth anniversary, has proven that it is necessary for Latvia. “If Dzintari Concert Hall is reconstructed, a new concert hall and hotels are built, ‘New Wave’ semi-finals could also be organized in Jurmala. Jurmala could also become a place for shooting new Russian TV shows and suchlike projects,” said Krutoy.
The ‘New Wave’ invasion and possible investment, and investors, it brings into Latvia’s beachside resort town, however, may not be welcomed by all.

Alexander Rumyantsev, the general director of the international contest of young pop singers ‘New Wave 2011,’ which took place last week in Jurmala, apparently brutally expelled several Latvian journalists from the popular local news portal Tvnet after they asked him several questions about the poor organization of the festival, the portal’s deputy editor-in-chief Toms Ostrovskis wrote.

As Tvnet says, the journalists asked Rumyantsev about the poor organization of the festival this year, who then began swearing at them in Russian and ripped their press cards from them. The journalists were then “brutally” escorted out of the festival’s territory by security, according to the news portal.
“Brutally expelling media members for asking questions that people following along the ‘New Wave’ festival wish to be answered is obviously normal practice in Russia, where freedom of the press are just some sort of obscure words, and where media censorship and making sure that journalists only write ‘good and positive’ articles is the norm. Those journalists that do not follow along with this practice usually are harassed, have their wages slashed or are fired,” Ostrovskis said in an open letter to Rumyantsev on Tvnet.

“I feel sorry for the suffering of your [Russia’s] people, Mr.Rumyantsev, where they are denied the right to live in a democratic society. I wish to show my support to those brave independent journalists in Russia, who each day have to come in contact with ‘gangs’ similar to yours. I express my fullest support to those Russian journalists who try to tell the world what is really going on in Russia, on things that people like you are trying to hide,” Ostrovskis goes on to say.
‘New Wave’ is one of the most popular annual summer music festivals in the Russian-speaking world, which is held in Jurmala every summer.

As with most of Slesers’ bombast, boasts of deals flowing into Latvia due to the immigration law amendments are also greatly exaggerated.
Amendments to the Immigration Law, which have been in force for nearly a year, have not fostered investments in commercial property, because foreigners mostly use the opportunity to receive Latvia’s residence permit by purchasing apartments and private homes, notes real estate company Newsec Latvia CEO Olga Kozina, speaking in an interview with the business portal

The amendments have mostly fostered sales of exclusive apartments. Some private homes were sold in the Riga region, but not in Jurmala, because the investment required to apply for the residence permit is not high enough to encourage sales of Jurmala’s luxurious private homes, said Kozina.

According to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, as of April, 25 million lats was invested in Latvia’s real estate, with the purpose of receiving Latvia’s residence permit. It is not bad that there is an influx of additional money into Latvia; however, these apartments and private homes are bought only for personal use, added Kozina.
The result also differs from the initial expectations when the amendments were adopted. Those who invest in commercial property consider their investment as a business and rarely connect them with such things as residence permit, explained Kozina.