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Rail Baltica is in such a deep hole that it could have a fundamental impact on the current national budget – Kulbergs

The Rail Baltica project is in such a deep hole that it could fundamentally affect the current state budget, said MP Andris Kulbergs (United List), chairman of the Saeima Parliamentary Investigation Commission, in an interview on Latvian Television this morning.

He agreed that Rail Baltica is the biggest project of the century and in the history of Latvia, and has the potential to fail as the biggest problem of the century, affecting everyone in Latvia.

“The fire is quite huge and it has to be put out. This is not a political fight, you have to understand how to put a train that has derailed back on the tracks. The Commission needs to understand how the train derailed so fundamentally, why none of the safety lights worked at any level,” said the opposition MP.

According to Kulbergs, the project is in such a deep hole that it could fundamentally affect the entire Latvian budget, including the current one. The threat is not about where to get the money for the remaining phases of the project, but about the risk of not getting the money already allocated by not fulfilling the contract.

Responsibility for the project, given its scale, should, in his view, lie with senior public officials. In Kulbergs’ view, the situation is not the fault of one person, but of several, and the Commission is not the police; it will only help to gather information for the investigation.

The Commission will hold its first meeting on July 11.

As reported, the government coalition wants the contract for the Rail Baltica stations and related cost increases to be reviewed before the bills are paid.

As Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) told reporters after Monday’s coalition meeting, it is necessary to make sure that everything possible is done to minimize the cost increase. The government wants to review all the contracts so that there are no future cost increases, and the existing cost increases can be eliminated, Silina stressed.

The prime minister said that the Transport Ministry has turned to the prosecutor’s office.

At the beginning of June, TV3 television’s analytical news program Neka Personiga (Nothing Personal) reported that construction workers have not been paid since February for construction of two international Rail Baltica stations.

Neka Personiga noted that the contracts signed with the builders several years ago included price indexation, but inflation of 20-30 percent was not foreseen. “The works have been ordered, invoices have been issued and accepted by both Eiropas Dzelzcela Linijas and the Transport Ministry, but due to inflation the works have cost much more, and there is no way to pay the difference,” the program says, adding that the increase has been ignored for a long time and currently amounts to EUR 39 million.

The Rail Baltica Riga Central Hub is being built by general partnership BeReRix, while engineering supervision is provided by Egis-Deutsche Bahn.

LETA also reported, the Rail Baltica project, which has recently highlighted problems with meeting deadlines and absorbing funding, involves the construction of a European standard gauge railway line from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border to connect the Baltic states with other European countries by rail.

Rail Baltica was originally expected to cost EUR 5.8 billion, but stakeholders have repeatedly said that the cost has increased significantly. Part of the cost will be covered by European Union funds. Rail Baltica is planned to open in phases between 2028 and 2030.

The State Security Service stressed in last year’s activity report that, despite the current difficulties, further delays in the construction of the Rail Baltica infrastructure are unacceptable and the project requires targeted risk management.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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