Russian, Belarusian foodstuffs could be banned from public procurement

Food and beverages are currently not included on the list of European Union sanctions against Russia and Belarus for their part in the invasion of Ukraine, but lawmakers in Latvia are considering the possibility of introducing measures at a national level to restrict their availability, at least in the sphere of public procurement.  

The Saeima will evaluate the amendments to the laws proposed by the opposition National Alliance, which provide for the exclusion of goods produced in Russia and Belarus from all public procurement processes. The move comes after reports that some items of Russian and Belarusian origin were finding their way into the national electronic procurement system.

The relevant amendments to the Law on Public Procurement and the Law on Procurement of Public Service Providers have been submitted to the Budget Commission and propose establishing that goods and services originating in Russia and Belarus cannot be part of any public tender, and that the onus is on participants in such tenders to check.

Introducing the proposals, member of the National Allaince, Uģis Mitrevics, stated at the Saeima session that currently parents cannot be sure that their children are not being fed food made in Russia in schools and kindergartens, as even the Latvia army has been unwittingly supplied with Russian goods.

He emphasized that in these geopolitical conditions, the supply of goods from Russia and Belarus to state and local government institutions is both absurd and immoral.

Mitrevics also pointed out that public procurement is regulated by two more laws – on defense procurement and private-public partnerships. Therefore, he called on the responsible authorities to "take a look at whether similar amendments are not needed in these laws as well, and come with an initiative to the Saeima".  

However, there is still some way to go before the amendments become legally binding as tey need to make their way through the parliamentary process of debate and voting.

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