One has wasted at least one million euros of budget assets and property for maintaining the Latvian-Estonian and Latvian-Lithuanian borderland. The State Audit Office of Latvia reached such a conclusion when also assessing the maintenance costs of the Latvian-Estonian and Latvian-Lithuanian borderland in parallel with the audit of the establishment works of the external borderland of Latvia.
The State Audit Office of Latvia considers that the actions of the State Border Guard and the State Provisions Agency regarding the resources of the state budget were neither legal nor effective. In addition, under the supervision of the State Border Guard, there were payments made for work which was had not been carried out at all or whose necessity raised doubts.
The Ministry of the Interior that is responsible for the drafting and implementation of the State Border Protection Policy of Latvia and the State Border Guard being entrusted with the maintenance of the state borderland are directly liable for the development of the laws and regulations for maintaining the state borderland between Latvia and Lithuania and between Latvia and Estonia.
At present, the State Border Guard has defined the types of the work for maintaining the internal border of Latvia in its internal regulations that the Cabinet of Ministers should have determined. At the same time, the State Border Guard has set such requirements in the technical specifications for the procurement of internal border maintenance, which do not result from the laws and regulations or from the intergovernmental agreements signed with Lithuania and Estonia. The State Audit Office of Latvia considers the requirements set out as disproportionate because, at the internal border, one does not need the same measures to protect the state border as at the external border. In addition, works such as removal of overgrowing from the topsoil by milling, sawing, felling, or cutting trees, shrubs, stumps, and their shoots, were commissioned and paid for several years between 2016 and 2019. One also applies the full scope of work to those sections of the border that run along rivers or water bodies.
The Procedure of the State Border Guard coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior does not provide one to perform the work in places where the border passes along rivers or water bodies. Nevertheless, the State Border Guard has provided for such work in the procurement specifications. By paying for such works, the State Border Guard has committed unlawful use of state budget funds and caused the State to incur the losses of at least 680,626 euros.
Significantly, the State Border Guard has not defined the type and scope of specific work to be performed at certain sections of the border in any procurement organised between 2016 and 2019. In order to make an offer, any tenderer had to survey the borderland and familiarise oneself with the circumstances under which they would work independently. Tenderers made a bid for the total amount according to their understanding of the scope of work to be performed, but without specifying which works included in the technical specification would be performed and the scope thereof at a specific section of the state border. Consequently, it is not really clear to the officials of the State Border Guard who accept the work done what type of work should be done at each section of the state border and their scope. The State Border Guard pays practically any bill submitted by a contractor.
When carrying out random checks, the auditors have found that more than 27 thousand euros are paid for the work actually not done to the detriment of the State. For example, the State Border Guard paid for clearance of the topsoil from trees and their roots in Ipiķi, although the auditors still found some stumps during the site survey. In fact, the State Border Guard has also paid for the work not done at Zvārtava section of the state border and a part of the Valka Rural District Section, where the border runs along the middle of the Gauja River for approximately 27 kilometres. It was not necessary to clear the topsoil and mill it at this border section.
In the borderland between Latvia and Estonia, officials of the State Border Guard have acted negligently and caused damage to the State by not keeping records of state property. The audit was unable to determine how much timber was harvested because of the work for establishment of the internal border, whereas at the section of state border in Ipiķi, where one still detected stumps during the audit, one discovered that timber was not accounted at all and was lost in the amount of at least 3,612 euros.
In 2018, the Provision State Agency held an open tender to replace the old border signs on the internal border. By violating the statutory requirements and the Tender Regulations that the cheapest price was the only evaluation criterion, they chose the bid that was 327,081 euros more expensive out of two possible bids in the part of the procurement subject “Replacement of Border Signs on the Border between the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Estonia”. One has caused losses to the State and has violated the requirement of the Law on Prevention of Defalcation of Financial Resources and Property of the Public Entity stipulating that the conduct of a public entity shall be lawful and such as to achieve the purpose with the minimal use of financial resources.