BNN INTERVIEW | Jānis Vitenbergs: a minister cannot work separately from the industry

What will now happen with the Sea Port Reform? It’s clear there will be no progress until the ruling comes from from the Constitutional Court. But now it could be the time to complete the previous government’s unfinished «homework» – economic evaluation of the existing sea port management model?
-I would like to remind that this is about the sea port management model reform. Sea port will stay where they are – no one will take them away. I have made the decision to continue the transition of the existing model towards capital associations instead specifically because of form of management currently employed there. The reason is because the existing model may serve ministers’ ambitions, because each new minister puts his or her own representatives in sea port authorities. This cannot continue.
Businessmen have said multiple times that this reform is taking too long. They need clarity about the planned management model so that they can attract investments and operate normally. I’ve had conversations with businessmen. We will continue cooperating in the future. I have also attracted a freelance former businessman from the Stevedoring Association.
I believe at some point the situation was shaken by some kinds of interests. Even now we can see municipalities want to preserve their influence. For example,
Klaipeda sea port is a state capital association that has no involvement from the local municipal administration.
We, on the other hand, respecting the fact that sea ports are located within municipalities’ territory and have to live together somehow, invite municipal administrations to become involved. I believe we will only benefit from establishing state capital associations at Riga and Ventspils sea ports with stable municipalities. We don’t need a management that changes every year.
When you were Latvia’s Minister of Economics, you met with businessmen representing this sector. Will you continue this practice?
-In order to cooperate and work together, you need two sides. Even in the past I said a minister cannot make do without communicating with their respective industrial sectors. I have to represent my sector in all possible formats. I will speak and work with organisations that represent businessmen of all specific sectors in order to move towards our goals together. A minister that works separately from his or her represented sector will only cause problems.
Also read: Priorities of Latvia’s Minister of Transport. Perhaps this time Latvia will end up the winner?