Poor roads need attention

  • 2012-08-08
  • From wire reports

RIGA - The Latvian Transport Ministry has proposed that the amount of funding for road construction and maintenance be gradually increased, to 80 percent of the amount that the state collects in excise tax on fuel, and, at the same time, that all taxes which drivers pay for using roads and highways go to road construction and maintenance, said Andris Lubans, director of the Transport Ministry’s Land Transport Department, at a press conference on July 31, reports Nozare.lv.

In this case, around 270 million lats (385.7 million euros) will be available for road construction and maintenance, explained Lubans. This year, before the budget was amended, the funding for road construction and maintenance was just 70 million lats. This means that just one-fourth of drivers’ payments goes to road construction and maintenance, stressed Lubans.

The Transport Ministry’s report suggests that funding for the state master budget program ‘State Highway Fund’ must not be smaller than the projected budget revenue from the vehicle operation tax for a given year, or form the following minimum percentages of budget revenue from the excise tax on oil products: 20 percent in 2013, 30 percent in 2014, 40 percent in 2015, 50 percent in 2016, 60 percent in 2017, 70 percent in 2018, 80 percent in 2019 and subsequent years.
Latvia’s roads, in general, are in bad shape, certainly the worst in the Baltics, with many of them un-renovated and a dangerous relic from the Soviet-era. The Transport Ministry’s proposal is based on this ‘critical condition’ of many roads and highways in Latvia. The situation is worsened by insufficient funding since re-independence, which was significantly reduced the past two-three years.

If the government does not accept the Transport Ministry’s proposal, traffic on several road sections will have to be closed already in the near future, warned Lubans.
According to the Transport Ministry’s data, the planned vehicle operation tax revenue this year is 48.6 million lats, and 271.1 million lats is to be collected in excise tax on oil products.