Cartels are not a sudden appearance in Latvia, it is a phenomenon that has been swept under the rug for a long time, as experts explained at the “Competition in business: influence of cartels, lobbyist activity and black PR” discussion organized by Turiba University.
Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s (KNAB) former head Jaroslavs Strelcenoks said that after interviewing 400 businessmen it turned out that 47% of them were aware of cases when “gifts” were given in exchange for state or municipal orders. 51% of them were aware of unofficial payments in the construction sector.
Only 18% of respondents said tenders were organized fairly, whereas 11% said they would never give bribes under any conditions.
“Latvia’s construction sector is sick and we cannot hope to put an end to all problems by isolating a couple of cases. Unfortunately, the cartel matter has heavily impacted the country’s construction sector. We can go as far as call it a plague,” says Latvian Builders Association’s president Normunds Grinbergs, commenting on the possible extent of cartel activity in the construction sector.
Competition Council chairperson Skaidrite Abrama notes – there have always been agreements, but so has the fight against them, and now society knows about all of it.
“Every year there are three or four major violations uncovered in competition, including agreements among businesses, etc. We pay more attention to systematic cases. As for why the situation was allowed to deteriorate so far with the cartel in construction sector, you should ask what each of us has done to prevent it,” explains Abrama. (BNN/Business World Magazine)