The Ministry of Agriculture and the subordinate authorities have currently purchased 19 electric or hybrid vehicles, while next year the number could exceed 60, said Rihards Kancēvičs, director of the Ministry's Administrative Department. According to the Public Procurement law, at least a fifth of the cars purchased must be low-emission.
As the vehicles are also needed in remote regions, the Ministry has decided to set up its own charging hub network. The Ministry is expected to spend just under €2.5 million on approximately 50 charging sites.
“There is only a national public charging network, whereby an institution cannot count a hundred percent on whether it will not be occupied,” said Kancēvičs, adding that the network might also be used by other national authorities, but will be considered later.
Private car points will not be able to use that network, as the Ministry should then become an electricity trader.
Asked whether it was too costly for the Ministry to build its own charging network, especially without arranging its placement with the needs of other institutions, Kancēvičs replied: "The main problem is already how much capacity is available and how many cars can be charged for how long. Even if we are looking at the future, in five or six years' time, say, Limbaži, Smiltene, Rēzekne, Daugavpils, there are two [Agriculture Ministry's] institutions of different departments with charging stations, it does not necessarily mean that resources are wasted there because both need these charging stations."
The Ministry's choice to create a separate charging network was not commented by either the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development responsible for the green policy or the Ministry of Transport responsible for the public charging network. The Ministry of Transport stated that nothing prevents the Ministry of Agriculture from building its own network.
Only one applicant – Reck Ltd – came forward in the procurement for the construction of the charging infrastructure. The company's ownership structure shows the association with the Ministry's leading National Alliance: the largest shareholder Topos L is owned by the sister of NA deputy Rihards Kols.
Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards was not available for comment, while RIhards Kols said he did not know anything about the procurement.
“I hear from you for the first time about such procurement, including, respectively, a company that, as I understand from you, has won. I can't comment more broadly. I have no relation to either the procurement and this company,” Kols said.
The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) told LTV that there was no apparent violation of the conflict of interest law in the procurement if relying on publicly available information.