Following the audit on the management of municipal cemeteries, the State Audit Office offers several solutions for arranging the sphere. To ensure a possibility to relatives to bury decently the deceased, selecting necessary services at their own discretion and according to their possibilities, local governments have to ensure easy-to-access information, clear regulations on the obtaining of a grave, clear and justified payments.
Available information, clear procedures for obtaining a grave, arranged registers and maps of graves, as well as convenient cemetery infrastructure are the main preconditions for ensuring relatives the possibility of decently burying the deceased. Unfortunately, local governments have yet a lot of work to do in this sphere, as concluded by the State Audit Office during the audit on cemetery management in Latvia. The audit was carried out in 11 municipalities for the period from 1 January 2015 to 30 June 2017.
“Unclear regulations on the obtaining of graves and registration of burials, a disputable situation with the types and amount of mandatory payments set by local governments, uncertainty with the volume of rights and duties of local governments in cemetery management, especially with regard to actions with abandoned graves, are the main reasons why the State Audit Office believes that this sphere requires improvements,” the Auditor General Elita Krumiņa believes.
The State Audit Office provided recommendations to local governments included in the audit for resolving current problems; however, in the opinion of auditors, the State requires a wider solution for arranging cemetery management. This could be an especially developed law or a single set of fundamental principles agreed upon by local governments.
Based on matters examined within the framework of the audit, the State Audit Office has developed a new self-assessment tool for local governments: a questionnaire, which will provide an opportunity to other local governments not included in the audit to assess their activities in cemetery management and to identify necessary improvements.
“By summarising conclusions made during the audit, these tools available to everyone will be also created further on in order to enable those willing to work better to study and check themselves,” Elita Krumiņa explains. It is planned that the State Audit Office will develop similar self-assessment questionnaires for municipal needs in other spheres as well.
Promoting open access to data, the State Audit Office has summarised and made publicly available the binding regulations of all Latvian municipalities on the use of cemeteries and the price-lists of associated services on its website.