Officials tell Saeima extra funds needed for mobile passport plan

A plan to use mobile passport stations to service Latvian citizens in Australia, Canada and the United States this summer needs more than LVL 49,000 in supplementary funding, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have told a parliamentary commission in Rīga.

The officials on June 3 told the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission that a request for additional funding will be forwarded to the Council of Ministers, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Under the plan, one official each from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde, or PMLP) will travel to Australia, Canada and the United States. Using mobile passport stations, they will collect biometric data from citizens needing new or renewed Latvian passports.

The plan is part of an effort, encouraged by leading diaspora organizations, to increase the number of citizens abroad who may vote in the Oct. 2 parliamentary election.

But the plan cannot be realized given the current resources of the foreign affairs and interior ministries, officials told the Saeima commission. (The PMLP is part of the Ministry of the Interior.) The ministries will be asking the government for LVL 49,416 in additional funding.

As reported earlier, specialists from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the PMLP are expected to bring the mobile passport stations to Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Cleveland in the U.S. and Toronto, Hamilton, Montréal, Vancouver and Edmonton in Canada. The specialists are planning to visit the U.S. cities in late June and July, and the Canadian cities in July.

In Australia, according to Latvia’s honorary consuls there, the mobile stations will be brought in August to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Reduced funding for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—part of the government’s overall budget-slashing brought on by the global financial meltdown—also has affected other services, officials told the Saeima commission. At the same time, continued emigration from Latvia has resulted in increased demand for those services. From 2008 to 2009, officials told the commission, demand for consular services from citizens abroad increased 35 percent. Demand for tourist visas to Latvia also has increased. However, last year the number of consular officials abroad decreased 48 percent.

In some cases, the ability of Latvian consular staff to quickly render services has been greatly reduced. In London, the foreign affairs officials told the Saeima commission, those seeking passports through the Latvian Embassy must reserve a time two months in advance. In Moscow, people have been reported standing in line for two days to get a visa for travel to Latvia.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “Officials tell Saeima extra funds needed for mobile passport plan

  1. Sorry to read that Latvija is having such financial difficulties to the extent that the government may have trouble in raising an additional 49,000 Lats. The government should realize that the easier it is to gain entry to Latvia the more people will visit our small and beautiful country. They will spend their money and in so doing will help to strengthen the economy which in turn will help provide governmental programs for the people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *