Citing the agency’s data, Latvia’s chief auditor Krumina said that a total of €3.647 million were overpaid for garbage collection services to 44 of Latvia's local governments from the beginning of 2012 to the end of 2014.
Auditors said that the overpayments occurred because the waste management companies were using inappropriate payment calculation methods and that managers of waste sorting facilities were charging users for the natural resources tax.
"The first problem is that waste producers in 25 municipalities, including local residents, have overpaid €2,076,380 as a result of an incorrect calculation method used in converting weight measurements into volumetric units" at landfills, the representatives of the State Audit Office said.
To deal with this problem, state auditors have ordered local authorities and waste management companies to fix their calculations, and the Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry has been advised to improve its regulations to prevent such overpayments in the future.
Another reason causing overpayments is that although sorting lines have helped reduce the amount of waste dumped at landfills, which is a positive fact, owners of the sorting lines continue to charge natural resources tax also for the sorted waste that does not go to the landfills. Due to this problem, found to exist in 44 municipalities, waste producers have overpaid €1,570,961, the state auditors said.
In most cases, waste management contracts do not ensure the protection of residents and an efficient organization of waste management services, for instance, local authorities' contracts with waste managers do not include quality requirements and contractual penalties, the auditors have found.
The state audits have also discovered various violations of legislative acts and mishandling of taxpayers' money on the part of several local authorities.