Latvian anti-corruption force warns of heightened graft risk

The risk of corruption has increased in connection with the public procurements conducted during the state of emergency associated with the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, according to Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) Director Jēkabs Straume.

"It's important to understand that the need to repeatedly inform both society and state institution personnel about good governance principles is increasing," said Straume.

The director doesn't want to cast all authorities in a bad light, but the risks have increased and the bureau is ready to provide recommendations. There need to be unified and clear regulations on public procurement during a state of emergency. Straume commend's the government's decision to require that institutions publish information online on all procurements associated with combating the Covid-19 virus from April 20.

The risk of squandering government funds increases when decisions regarding very large sums of money need to be taken and implemented quickly. The government decided not to apply the Public Procurement Law and Public Service Provider Procurement Law in specific situations to enable quicker action. However KNAB and the Procurement Monitoring Bureau (IUB) feel that only specific aspects of procedures should have been changed. 

“Uncertainty, lack of transparency are contrary to the desire for the public to trust the government,” said Straume.

KNAB and the IUB have established guidelines for avoiding corruption and conflicts of interest during procurements conducted during the state of emergency. The guidelines include applying the Public Procurement Law as much as possible, as well as including various public persons employed at the institution in the procurement commission. Also, both those preparing the documents and commission members can't represent any candidates or be involved with suppliers - proving this by signing an affirmation.

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