Hospitality sector to request Finance and Health ministers' resignation

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At least nine tourism and hospitality associations have decided to request the resignation of Finance Minister Jānis Reirs (New Unity) and Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts (Development/For!), Latvian Radio reported January 24.

Santa Graikste, executive director of the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, explained that this decision was taken because tourism representatives had given the responsible ministers time up to January 21 to solve the crisis in the sector caused by Covid-19 but no action followed. 

“We are, of course, saddened. [..] We have always followed what decisions are made. Should have vaccinated? Our industry has vaccinated 99%. We are the second sector behind the medical sector where the most vaccinations have been carried out. Should have introduced protocols for safe work? We've done all this,” Graikste said.

Graikste stressed that industry indicators differ from neighboring countries because of the constraints in Latvia.

Most of the members of the Crisis Management Committee on Tourism support the request for resignation, for which a letter is currently being prepared. It is also planned to be sent to representatives of Saeima factions in the hope of gaining support from parliamentarians. "We are a non-governmental sector and we cannot encourage resignations. However, a certain number of Saeima members can do this, so we hope to gain support there,” Graikste said.

The Latvian Association of Cosmetics and Cosmetologists also joined the request for resignation. All the services sectors were displeased that the Operational Management Group reportedly does not take into account sectoral arguments or studies when taking decisions, but bases the decisions only on what the Ministry of Health has said. 

The Minister for Health said through his communications advisor, Lāsma Bindere:

"The Minister for Health agrees that the tourism sector, like other sectors affected by the pandemic, needs targeted support. Daniels Pavļuts has also pointed out that we are already thinking about relaxing security measures following the wave of [Covid-19] Omicron, as experience from other countries has shown that Omicron superwaves are dwindling relatively quickly.”

The fact that times are difficult is also understood by Finance Minister Reirs. In a written response from his communications advisor, Mudrīte Grundule, stressed that the resignation of the minister would not change anything:

"The Minister of Finance understands that the sector is experiencing severe circumstances and may have claims against officials in such circumstances. At the same time, the Minister is aware that changing personalities will not solve the situation. The state handles borrowed money whose checkups will be on the shoulders of future taxpayers. No country can afford long-term help to maintain a business that has become unprofitable when conditions change."

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