Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Latvian Wonderland continues

Optimists, who hoped that the new PM would bring substantial improvements in governance culture of Latvia, must wait! Today Delfi announced that the Saeima Head of Budget Committee considers that the Mandatory Property and Income Declaration Law should be abolished in its present form because it does not make any sense ("šādā redakcijā likums ir bezjēdzīgs"). Other MP's agree with contemplations of Kārlis Leiškalns and according to Delfi article also Latvian Ombudsman office gave its negative evaluation to the above mentioned law.

Sad, very, very sad
, and probably Latvian parliament is the world champion in delaying its legislative duties. Mandatory Property and Income Declaration Law is slowly milled through the corridors of Latvian legislature since 1997, while neighbors Estonia and Lithuania passed such law last century, in 1991 and 1994 accordingly. Instead of his announcement prior the end of the 2007, when Kārlis Leiškalns openly annoyed was ready to accept that such law would probably be passed in the middle of February, it is postponed indefinitely now... .

Postponing this very law persistently widens the gap between the Latvian economic development and one of its Baltic cousins. Please do not assume the Mandatory Income and Property Declaration law as some kind of mantra, but as an example for creating order in countries public finances and thus allowing to gain quicker economic development gains. To underline my argument the latest Index of Economic Freedom by Heritage Foundation was announced today. According to the report Estonia is the 5th most competitive economy in Europe and 12th in the World, Lithuania is 14th in Europe (22nd in the World), while Latvia is 22nd in Europe and 41st in the World, thus letting even Armenia and Georgia pass.

As of symbolizing Latvian "business culture" Latvia's most prominent prisoner Aivars Lembergs, who actually sits under house arrest, announced that he would start hunger strike as from the January 17. The official reason for such a radical move is his dissapointment with the work of his guards and irresponsibility of the Latvian Prosecutor General office. According to Lembergs representative the latter office "dared" to limit his correspondence and telephone calls. Such announcements sound a bit whimsical, thus maybe former Maire of Ventspils wants to lose some weight and thus earn some advertising brownies from some weightwatchers firm? Ok, it is a joke only.

In the meantime while some members of the famous triple AAA (Aivars Lembergs, Andris Šķēle & Ainārs Šlesers) team are still hoping to manage their sound finances prior the mandatory income and property declaration would be introduced, we know that another one announced hunger strike under house arrest (his inprisonment he considers as a political farce). Such seemigly unfavourable treatment of some members of the AAA team only promotes the comprehension among the public that a judicial system is unjust and democracy is simply dysfunctional. Mr Lembergs defense team knows it very well, and they cater for creating him as a symbol of martyr, and he already has a fan club of old ladies who travel with the famous prisoner from one court house to another.

Rest of the Latvian society follow these events powerlessly waiting and hoping that Latvian judicial system would prosecute all the crooks in this Wonderland one day. Funny, how long it would carry on like this without even properly knowing what belongs to whom?

P.S. Those of you reading in Latvian may find my thoughts in Diena.

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