Latvian parliament’s committee passes sea port management reform

On Tuesday, 26 October, members of the Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee passed for the second reading amendments to the Law on Ports. These amendments provide for remaking the sea ports of Riga and Ventspils into capital companies.
Amendments were supported by seven deputies. One deputy voted against.
The term for the submission of the proposal for the third reading is two weeks.
Amendments submitted by the government provide for the state and municipalities holding ownership over the capital of those companies.
Once the legislative draft has come to force, the state and municipal administrations will have nine months to agree on foundation of capital companies to manage the sea port of Riga and municipal administration’s participation in the management of AS Ventas osta and its operations at the sea port of Ventspils.
Amendments to the Law on Ports state that the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Finances and Ministry of Environment Protection and Regional Development will be in charge of shares in those port companies on behalf of the state.
Shares owned by the state will be distributed among ministries the following way: 40% for Ministry of Transport, 20% for Ministry of Finances, 20% for Ministry of Economics and 20% for Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.
Considering the influence sea port operations have on municipalities and the number of municipal properties used by sea ports, the Law on Ports state that municipal administration has the right to acquire shares in capital companies that performs sea port management functions under the condition that the state will retain ownership over no less than two-thirds of shares. This way municipal administrations will be able to retain active participation in sea ports, control the use of infrastructure and real estate handed to sea ports and maintenance of the municipality’s interests.
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A new section was added to the law to cover the participation of the private sector. This new section provides for letting sea port authorities compose cooperation councils and include sea port users and other interested sides in discussions of topics important for sea port development. It is also planned to provide clear definitions in the law in regards to the rights of sea port businesses to participate in development, maintain a dialogue with sea port administration to reach mutually beneficial solutions in topics like infrastructure development, sea port fees, compliance with different environmental requirements, administrative topics, etc.
By 31 March 2023 it is planned for the Cabinet of Ministers to have evaluated results from the model change in Ventspils and Riga. This will help with the discussion of the topic of a new capital company for Liepaja Special Economic Zone.