Cities form new association

  • 2001-08-30
  • Rita Bubina
RIGA - For one year Riga's Mayor Gundars Bojars will represent the opinions of 49 percent of Latvia's inhabitants. Last week he was appointed president of the newly founded Association of Latvia's Seven Largest Cities.

The other members are Jurmala, Liepaja, Ventspils, Jelgava, Rezekne and Daugavpils and the aim is to facilitate cooperation between them and make their voices heard on the national stage.

Janis Vitolins, deputy mayor of Ventspils, said, "The big cities share similar problems. Their economies are similar, and they are subject to the same laws. The association won't use unfair means to get its views across, but sound argumentation."

At the first meeting, discussion was largely taken up by the monitoring of public services - a pressing issue in the run-up to the establishment of a new body, the commission of public service regulators, on Sept. 1.

The commission will monitor provision of telecommunication, postal, railway and energy services and will be tasked with establishing new rates of payment. Leaders from the seven municipalities say introducing regulators in the middle of the year will prove impossible. They intend to put forward alternative proposals.

Andris Ravins, mayor of Jelgava, told journalists that in the near future the association will discuss promoting tourism across the seven cities, not all of which share the reputation enjoyed by the coastal resort town of Jurmala.

Each city will contribute 4,000 lats ($6,500) per year to the association's budget. How the money is to be spent has yet to be decided.