Ministry's request to build chapel using state money raises eyebrows

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The Agriculture Ministry has requested money in the state budget for the construction of a chapel at the Likteņdārzs park. Several points are unclear about this: why is it the Agriculture Ministry and why is it proposed at a time when there is not enough money for priorities, Latvian Television reported on March 2.

On Thursday, March 2, the Saeima continued viewing budget proposals, including the proposal by the Agriculture Ministry.

"We have noticed that overall the Agriculture Ministry has a separate position named Culture, which in itself raises questions whether the Agriculture Ministry should even have such a category," said deputy Andris Šuvajevs (Progressives).

"The allocated budget in this category is EUR 246,000, if I'm not mistaken. And this year almost EUR 90,000 is planned for building a chapel in Likteņdārzs. These actions raise a lot of questions about why Agriculture Ministry even deals with such activities," said Šuvajevs.

Should the creation of a chapel be funded by the State? According to the Law on Likteņdārzs, the land on which the park is developed belongs to the State of Latvia in the person of the Ministry of Agriculture, and therefore it is the Ministry of Agriculture which pays for the maintenance and development of the Likteņdārzs. The money for this purpose has until now been allocated annually under the category 'Culture'. This year, however, more money has been asked for the construction of the chapel.

“In principle, each year it is EUR 150,000, which is also planned for the coming years, until 2025,” said Jānis Šņore, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's Department of Budget and Finance.

“As regards the increase this year, this additional funding was found in the spending review process. The foundation 'Koknese Fund' had submitted its proposal to both the Ministry of Agriculture and Finance, and a proposal to support the construction of the chapel was prepared in the process of reviewing expenditure," the representative of the ZM said.

The Koknese Fund also confirmed that they themselves had asked for money for the creation of a prayer site.

When asked whether the agricultural sector didn't have to deal with other, more acute problems, such as the dairy sector, Šņore replied: “Of course. But, as I said, in the spending review process, the working group offered proposals in general.”

He said he supported the construction of the chapel himself, because “it will certainly only contribute to the development of the [Likteņdārzs park], which is important for the country”.


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