Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jungle laws of Latvian governance

Latvian Prime Minister prior adding the final touch and allowing the minister of finance to present the 2009 annual budget to the parliament announced that that Latvian public service would be utterly transformed, and that 10% budget cuts must take place in all ministries irrespective of their size. The size matters, Latvian politicians announce and population (1,37mlj vs 2.37mlj) and territory wise Latvia is bigger than Estonia indeed. But should it automatically increase also the number of state functions, because while in Estonia there are 11, relatively bigger Lithuania (population of 3,5mlj) 13 ministries, then why Latvian taxpayers have to keep up with 19?

Prior giving the next year´s annual budget project over to the parliament PM announced that 3 of the ``ministries`` or the secretariats of Social Integration, E-governance and Children´s ministry would be eliminated, and the E-business secretariat would be joined with the ministry of Regional affairs. Until today we have learned from politician´ s public announcements that it is almost impossible to liquidate ministries in Latvia, because it would leave those poor civil servants and their families without a work. Alright, so be it, and probably in Latvia we have humane governors, but what about the results of those ministries???

The Children's´ Ministry simply copies the Ministry of Welfare labours. E-business secretariat apart from using taxpayers monies to throw birthday parties also have not managed to introduce functional e-signature system in Latvia, and now finally Latvian administrators are visiting Estonia to learn from them how to accomplish such a complicated task... . The Integration secretariat has inflated from 2 to 47 administrators from 2004-2008 and they still contract private firms to do their job. When such news came out couple of month ago it created a scandal, similar to one when the Minister of the Secretariat Mr Oskars Kastens (a married man and a member of the Christian party) was happily flirting with the Diena correspondent. The scandal about contracting private firm made even the Prime Minister to announce that the secretariat would be closed, but probably he was too emotional when he announced such news.

These days it appears that the Secretariat will not be closed but transformed instead! You may wonder why? Because, if the Secretariat would be simply closed then Minister Kastens would have to return back to work as the MP in the parliament. But such a return would lose the benefits of his party mate and the head of the Saeima human rights commission Janis Smits. The latter person has created quite a stir with his intolerant announcements, and he is in the parliament with a weak mandate, for a period of time of Mr Kastens ministership...

So be it with finding jobs to party mates, but unfortunately it wont make the survival of the economic crisis easier. Also Minister of Finance does not help us here. At the time when next year´s budget is discussed in the parliament Minister Slakteris (TP) took a vacation... .Even his chief aid Miss Inguna Gulbe and her PhD degree cannot save Mr Slakteris from his questionable announcements, or sending his chief administrator Mr Bickovskis to participate in public TV shows does not hide the fact that the Minister of Finance is not up to his task. Now, even the new leader of the Peoples Party (TP) Mr Seglins wants to discuss whether it is the most appropriate time to take the vacation, and there are discussions ripe about his possible replacement. It would be reasonable indeed, because Mr Slakteris with his educational background is simply incapacitated to perform his duties.

Alright, and if the minister of finance would go, who would replace him then? Simply the list of candidates in the TP is rather short and I cannot imagine his replacement without general refurbishing of the government facade. The list of candidates is shortened by the weekend´s announcement about the former PM Kalvitis to be considered as the new Latvian ambassador in Moscow. If the government and parliament would even consider such an option how will it affect the behaviour of the Latvian president? Mr Zatlers made a very special precedent while not appointing the candidacy of Vaira Paegle for the ambassador´s post in the United Nations excusing his decision with the fact that Madam Paegle is not a career diplomat. How would he act now if his wife´s relative Kalvitis would be considered for the ambassadorship in Moscow, because the former PM is not a career diplomat either?

There are many questions out in the air in Latvia today. It seems that not only PM and president, but also heads of largest Saeima factions want to continue the status quo of Latvian governance. Instead of preparing balanced budget, or passing legislative amendments in election law (stipulating party financing principles), bringing about constitutional amendments (giving the president and certain quorum of electors to dissolve the parliament) and finally establishing mandatory tax and property declaration system MP´s must deal with crap. Last week former attorney of the Maire of Ventspils Mr Janis Grinbergs sent the stipulated amnesty bill to the Saeima commission heads. The bill is outright stupid, and immediately made even Mr Lembergs to deny anything to do with ``such a frivolous act of a private citizen Janis Grinbergs``. Fortunately the Latvian Council of Attorneys has to act now, because the former attorney of Mr Lembergs signed the stipulated bill as being proposed by the Council of Attorneys. Will Mr Grinbergs be able to say the same words today, when he will have to present amended amnesty bill to the president of the republic?

It is impossible to continue to manage the business as usual and earlier the political clique will understand it the better. Thus, is there upgrade of the Latvian government facade planned prior the June 2009 deadline?

8 comments:

Sestdienis said...

Tāds nu ir tas drūmais Tautas partijas stāsts. Šobrīd TP atgādina 7.klases teātra pulciņa dalībniekus, kas sadomājuši uzspēlēt lugu "Konservatīvā partija", bet sanāk dikti nepārliecinoši. Nu Segliņš tagad tēlo stingro konservatīvās partijas vadītāju, bet flirtēšana ar kreiso SC uzreiz nodod. TP tēvs un skolotājs Šķēle tur šķietami gudras runas, un viņa fani partijas iekšienē un ārpus tās, pavērtu muti lūrot uz sava elka bārdu, pat nemēģina objektīvi analizēt viņa teikto. Jo tad konstatētu, ka paustās idejas ir virspusējas, primitīvas un novecojušas. Nemaz nerunājot par sadistisko krupja ciešanu apcerēšanu, kuru klausoties, tā vien gribas kliegt, lai taču iemidzina to nabaga dzīvnieku, lai tam nav tik traki jāmocās, vispirms katlā, tagad pannā...

Arī Finanšu ministra kandidāta TP laikam īsti nav - varētu likt Leiškalnu, bet labāk diezin vai būtu, ja nu vienīgi vēl par 10% jautrāk. Par Kalvīti runājot - man bija ideja, ka viņu varētu iecelt nevis par Latvijas vēstnieku Krievijā, bet gan par Krievijas vēstnieku Latvijā, būtu mums pirmoreiz lielās kaimiņzemes vēstnieks, kas brīvi pārvalda latviešu valodu :)

Magnus said...

On topic of ministries. Don't you think that now is the moment of a more Keynesian turn in fiscal politics? Still, the wages are so low, that the costs connected to employing civil cervants aren't that big. Is this really the right time for public sector to cut down?

Baltic said...

Magnus,

AGREED on NEED AFTER KEYNESIAN turn. But not under condition of the present governing coalition (it must GO), because neoliberals turning Keynesians would disorient not only manipulative Latvian electorate, but also financial market participants...:)

Baltic said...

Sestdieni:

Shmita un Leishkalna uzvediibas saliidzinaajums Saeimaa bija LABS, bet par aizgaajeejiem (Shmits) sliktu nerunaa:) Taa turpinaat!

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