Environment Ministry drafts bill to sack Rīga City Council

The Environment Ministry (VARAM), in charge of municipal politics in Latvia, will sometime this week propose a bill to the government over dissolving the Rīga City Council.

That's what minister Kaspars Gerhards (National Alliance) told LTV December 17, before Rīga vice-mayor Andris Ameriks resigned the same day amidst a huge corruption scandal involving the Rīga City Council and the Rīgas satiksme transport company. 

The initiative for the ministry came from Gerhards' party lines, as the National Alliance held a congress over the weekend, and it was then that members tasked Gerhards to put forward a bill to this effect.

Gerhards claimed that the corruption scandal has caused uproar across Latvia and accused the council of inactivity. "From last year, VARAM has scrutinized the Rīga City Council. Sadly, there has been no action from the council over the Rīgas satiksme company, despite warnings from the State Audit Office," he said.

He said that the bill will be forwarded to the government this week and afterwards to the Saeima, claiming that that repeated illegal practices by the council have made sacking it a legal possibility. "We've seen long-term, nihilistic inactivity here. We'll invite the 'Latvian parties' to support the bill," he said.

Meanwhile Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony) criticized the fact that ministry-level decisions have been made "as a result of some party's congress" and said that there has been no similar precedent despite corruption in other municipalities.

"I cannot think of a legal means of [sacking the Rīga City Council]. A legal approach would mean an egalitarian approach. Why is this about Rīga when [there are corruption scandals] in Jūrmala, Ventspils and Daugavpils?" he said.

As reported, officials of Rīgas satiksme and the Rīga City Council have been arrested in a case centered on claims of bribery and profiteering from procurement contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros. 

Politics
Politics