Saturday, April 24, 2010

Latvian development through the eyes of cartoonist - April 2010

While Latvia prepares for the ''hot'' summer electioneering campaign prior autumn elections the mood is country is sombre or some might say even desperate. Noticed today that some smart folks in Russia used my previous blog entries for depicting the mood in Latvia with the help of cartoons. Another commentator quite revealingly concluded that there is enough said about Latvia these days. I cannot agree more... and here you have again a chosen set of fantastically revealing cartoons of Gatis Sluka.

P.S. Because my last entry I finished with the cartoon depicting the theme of roadworks decided to start this set with the same topic. Why? Because while in neighboring Baltic countries the EU funds were used to upgrade their road network Latvian former transport supremo and transport ministers before him were negligent enough, and allowed the Latvian road system to turn into permanent state of disrepair...

[Driving school] And now the toughest task ahead - getting around the potholes!

1. [Red house] Vocational school for road workers and next to it [greyish house]Technical school
2. [greyish house] ''Pothole fixer'' evening school

Please be so kind - I need something for sclerosis!


Yiddish Proverb: Don't spit into the well - you might drink from it later...AND Latvian Proverb: Do not cut the tree branch you are sitting on...
[Passer by] It seems that he can do both things at the same time!

Unemployed and destitute folks in front of the Latvian Cabinet November 2009 [GIVE US WORK!]-[Policeman] According to the City of Riga regulations you are not allowed to pitch tents in green area, and you must get rid of them!

TRANSIT thru Latvia...

And what about me as the youngest son, what would I get? DEBTS!

CASH WITHDRAWAL/DOWN PAYMENT Man with the hat - devaluation of the lat? Other man - illegal payments?

PAREX BANK [Excuse us, but this play shall be staged behind closed curtains!]

HOSPITAL [If you were able to crawl here on your own then do not waste our time!]

[Latvian Economy] or better use ominous term Latvionomics (first designed by Morten Hansen)

[Tax-Ax in ''flesh'' of an economy] But my shadow shall stay forewer!

What are you doing? Social cushion was designed for different purpose [Dombrovskis government prepared in 2009 so called social cushion to alleviate hordes of unemployed]

[Books] How to stay an optimist? How to find a job? Be successful!

1966 - what is going to hapen with you? Astronaut!
2006 - who do you want to become to? A banker!
2010 - interesting, what is going to be your future profession? Debt collector!

[Work] You first! No, you first! Story about the extention of the unemployment benefits...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ignorance cannot get any better...

Instead of working the way out from the economic malaise the Latvian fragmented and corrupt political class continues playing reclessly dangerous games. While the trust in major institutions of representative democracy have literally evaporated, and economy stalled so called opposition politicans obstruct forming of wholesome Latvian Cabinet. After the Peoples Party (PP) left the governing coalition, it has played a nasty game. Since 2004 PP was continuously member of the government. Now the tactics of PP representatives, whose minds are poisoned with fancy and abstract models of public relations ''theories'', is to act oportunistically and blame all the wrongdoings on their former colleagues and incumbent ministers.

Yesterday it was announced that former prime minister has decided to hook up with the former transport supremo and that their campaign slogan would sound like insolvable arithmetic puzzle - (A+Š)². It is not a secret that one of the most lunatic PR specialists from agency MOOZ is behind all the ludicrous ideas of the Latvian oligarchic families. Last year the same PR ''specialist'' and his retinue achieved bad fame while organizing false campaign about fallen meteorite which allowed Latvia to circle in world media as a rather questionable state entity. It seems that former prime minister and transport supremo are resorting to all means possible, if they continue trusting lunatics, whose cynicism and smug behavior has surpassed limits of sanity.

Today, the former corrupt ministers Slesers & Skele, who became odiosly famous during Jurmalgate affair (which was partially solved and did not touch masterminds of this drab affair)), should announce their five point program to lead Latvia out from the economic malaise. The program is almost exact emulation of the program of incumbent Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (what about copyright laws in LV:)). It plans to rise taxes on capital earnings, stipulate taxable amount from real estate, delegate the right to collect personal income tax to municipalities (which should create havoc in Latvian unitary state tax collecting system) and to lower VAT on ecological food... These proposals in effect are smokescreen, because whilst following the best traditions of Latvionomics (thank you Morten Hansen for inventing the new term!)(A+Š)² lunatics want to eliminate excise tax on natural gas. The latter proposal is the CRUX of the whole five point program because it vicariously explains that Latvian dependency on the Russian gas supplies is to be embedded. The latter point is contrary to the present plan of the government, who wants to have Latvia using energy mix from green energy that is abundant in Latvian rivers, forests, and bogs, and nuclear energy together with other two Baltic States.

The plans of corrupt Latvian politicians or so called AAA team are gradually becoming public. Until now corrupt former ministers have relied on lunatic PR specialists, which does not add much credibility to anything they say. In the meantime the Cabinet must find new ministers of justice, foreign affairs and health. The malaice and distrust is thus owerwhelming that nobody really wants to become minister in order not to taint ones public image, as it happened with Messrs Razans and Ronis, who were offered the positions of the minister of foreign affairs. The biggest bone of contention is the post of the minister of justice, because the criminally indicted major of Ventspils is extremely interested to save himself from justice. Last week due to Mr Lembergs instrumental behavior Janis Maizitis election for the third consecutive term as the Prosecutor General failed.

Virtual emasculation of the justice system in Latvia would be complete if the post of Prosecutor General and Minister of Justice would fall prey to the ill famous AAA team. Just to remind you that the former head of the Corruption Prevention Bureau Mr Loskutovs was toppled with the help of PP ministers back in 2007. During the same year tenure of the former prezident V. Vike Freiberga ended and under extremely questionable circumstances the incumbent president Valdis Zatlers was elected. In 2009 the new head of the Supreme Court (he nominates the Prosecutor General for the parliament to be appointed) Mr Bickovics was elected, even though journalists discovered that he had lied about the procedure of getting Latvian citizenship. Last week Prosecutor general without ANY DISCUSSIONS in the parliament was not appointed for the third term because MP's resorted to vote with closed bulletins. I am not happy with the work of Janis Maizitis, because also due to his appeasing character the Latvian state law enforcement abilities are far from functioning. However, the way the majority of MP's acted and still continue to act makes me once again realize that this prliament SHOULD HAVE BEEN SACKED LONG TIME AGO.

We are stuck with disfunctioning parliament that poisons the work of the cabinet now, however. There are almost no rational discussions in public domain, because provincial calculations among incumbent political class reign supreme. Major calculation of the present MP's is about ensuring their own enrichment, because not only tens of thousands of Latvian households but also numerous MP's took mortgage and consumer loans, and without not being elected they would have to drastically change their lucrative lifestyle. Such situation embedds the system of short term thinking and acting, and there is virtually none to start acting about long term needs of the Republic of Latvia. First and foremost, the Latvian legal and law enforcement branches are thus weak that they cannot defend interests of the public against depredations of the well organized interest groups.

It sounds pathetic, however, this situation breeds idiocy or path dependency, which does allow neither comprehensive debate nor balanced further development of Latvian society. The following five month until elections are not promising for Latvian citizenry and other inhabitamts. Until now there is no debate between righ or left wing economic policies yet, and the idiocy and ineffectiveness still reign by inertia.

P.S. As if answering my contemplations newest cartoon of
Gatis Sluka perfectly discloses mindset of an average Latvian politician and administrator...

[Street sign ] EVEN ROAD
The official: ''It will save us money! We should use such street signs exceptionally''

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Election process of the Latvian Prosecutor General and political ripples

This morning majority of Latvian MP's acted like clowns again. Instead of promises given by the heads of all political fractions in Latvian Saeima to vote for the incumbent Prosecutor General Janis Maizitis, this morning with 45 YEA and 47 NAY votes Janis Maizitis was not reelected for his third consecutive term. The present parliament is extremely fractional and 58 MEP's decided to vote with closed bulletins. The major culprit appears to be now the People's Party (PP) and Harmony Centre Party (HC), because differently from Union of Greens and Farmers and Latvian First and Latvian Way Party Union (LFLWU) who's members had free voting regime, PP yesterday promised to support incumbent prosecutor general.

Because the voting took place with closed bulletins it is rather impossible to discover who voted for and who against. It is useless to start investigation here because majority of the present parliament are simply crippled to perform their tasks due to intimate relations with their God-fathers... . The corrupt deals of God-fathers was supposed to untangle the same Prosecutor General who was not reelected this morning... .

According to Latvian Constitution it is the Head of the Supreme Court Mr Bickovics who nominates the name of the Prosecutor General. Mr Bickovics has not made official statements so far, but Mr Maizitis announced that he would be ready to continue his third consecutive term if he would be nominated and parliament would vote differently this time... .

Changes of election law and riddance of ill famous ''election locomotives'' that allowed about half of totally incompetent incumbent MP's to be dragged into parliament and the economic crisis has transformed the traditional political networks. It makes the political system sickly now, and it is clear that without certain further innovations in election law and the founding principles of internal revenue service Latvian democracy is insustainable. Creation of new political unions were first symptoms about remake of the Latvian political system. Today's voting officially ringed the electoral campaign in and it is essential now not only to have a new and competent prosecutor general, but also to have the stipulations in party financing law and finally pass the mandatory tax and property declaration, which is a way tooo long overdue!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Southern Bridge follow up

While reviewing most used keywords in my blog I discovered (what a surprize:) that my blog is mostly visited in order to learn about the incerdibly expensive bridge in Riga. While the Latvian State Audit Office and Mme Sudraba have appeared powerless sofar, perhaps Duncan Wood's article (Thank You Duncan!) would help to refocus Latvian prosecutors attention to real culprits of this legal and political conundrum?

Today it was announced that the building of the bridge could be terminated indefinetly. And all this regardless of the protests of the inhabitants of the nearby areas who had to learn that promises the politicians gave them would not be fulfilled.

Lets see how this Latvian conundrum would be untangled, and I only hope that this corruption case would remind Latvian electors in forthcoming elections who made decision prior the Southern Bridge was started to be built! Also I expect that politicians would not use the bridge as populist campaign slogan. There are enough issues to be disucussed and SOLVED prior October 2, 2010 elections and the comprehensive remuneration system for civil servants is one of them. The latter system of remuneration was reported by the incumbent parliament as a done deal, thus the government could report to the IMF and EU financial donors that Latvian partners have fulfilled their task. However, increasing number of Neo reports continuously remind us that in terms of orderly public finances, as much the comprehensive Latvian public service remuneration system is concerned, anarchy still ruled supreme until the very end of 2009. In addition also informative article about astounding liabilities of top notch Latvian holders of public office makes one wonder, how those politicains with their official and relatively meagre salaries plan to repay their creditors in open and transparent manner?

Unfortunately, Latvian prosecutors office cannot work at full force, because Mr Maizitis must wait until the end of the month when Latvian MP's would decide whether incumbent prosecutor general would continue in his post. Lets see what else investigative journalists would find out, and then we could also see the playground of election campaign more clearly, because until now it is simply too muddled.

P.S. Here is the link to my latest the Baltic Times article