Levits: Latvian government has shown inability to cope with crisis

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Errors in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines have revealed the government's inability to cope with crisis situations, President of Latvia Egils Levits told Latvian Television March 5.

Levits said that earlier each member of the government "pulled their own rope" but now the government's work is on the way to unity, and, in the President's opinion, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš is able to lead the team. 

The President said that vaccines were currently lacking because there were strategic errors in the procurement of vaccines last year, and we are now paying for these errors. And this, in turn, makes one rethink and analyze where there are systemic errors in public administration, leading to this kind of inability to cope with the crisis.

"We must see why the civil service is working unsuccessfully, draw conclusions on the public administration structure, on the education of employees; why public administration is not the highest quality as it should be," Levits said.

"We have taken a big step forward but not enough. In a crisis situation we see that our reaction is not efficient enough."

The government's decisions on restrictions must have a clear direction – reduce the possibilities of contacts until there is a sufficiently large number of vaccinated people, which is currently very small because there are no vaccines available, Levits said.

The current restrictions “lead to a morbidity that is one of the highest in the European Union” and the government's task is to find the right solution between reducing morbidity and meeting certain needs of people.

He also acknowledged that it was impossible to predict how the situation would develop, and he hoped that more quarantine would not be needed, but the possibility could not be excluded.

It is therefore necessary to organize vaccination more quickly, "the longer we hesitate, the more severe the consequences for the economy and the people", said the President.

In the purchase of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine last year, Latvia applied for a lower number of doses than was available, as found by a service inspection which concluded that the officials did not violate any powers but that principles of good governance were not respected. The final decision was made by officials, not the government.

In this context, the Minister for Health has encouraged disciplinary proceedings against certain officials of the National Health Service and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Health. The results are expected later in March.


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