Minister: back to school for builders

  • 2003-06-19
  • Baltic News Service

The language barrier may be one of the biggest problems Latvian construction contractors are likely to face after the country's accession to the European Union, but they are nevertheless fully capable of competing on the EU market on all counts, Latvian Economy Minister Juris Lujans said on June 17.
Speaking at the conference "Latvian Construction Industry and the EU: Opportunities and Challenges" in Riga, Lujans called on builders to tackle the language issue in the nearest future and start learning English, French or German so that the lack of language skills would not affect their competitive ability on the common EU building market.
The minister said that Latvian construction contractors, while offering lower labor costs, were in no way inferior to their EU counterparts by quality of workmanship.
After Latvia joins the EU, Latvian builders will get more opportunities to participate in construction tenders in the EU, train their personnel in EU member states and increase construction's share in the country's GDP to a level appropriate for the EU.
At present construction accounts for 7 percent of GDP, while in the EU this figure is 11 percent.
Lujans also said that the EU membership was the only way that would allow Latvia to achieve Western living standards in the next two or three decades since, as an EU member, Latvia will get access to a wide and stable market, free movement of goods and services, labor and capital.