During a meeting on Thursday, 4 June, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers decided to conceptually support Justice Ministry’s report, which details the initiative to start construction of Liepāja Prison a year earlier – in 2021 instead of 2022.
Explaining the need for this step, Justice Minister JānisBordāns stressed this project is close to completion, which means not many preparations are needed to commence construction. The minister also outlined positive consequences from this project for Liepaja’s economy.
The report mentions that the ministry has until 15 June to sign a contract with Courtroom Agency on the organization of the prison’s construction process.
Bordāns’ New Conservative Party (JKP) had previously outlined the prison construction project as its budget priority. However, the project was put on hold because of shortage of funding. When talks commenced about stimulating the economy after COVID-19 crisis with different construction and infrastructure projects, it was mentioned unofficially that the prison project could be in there.
Justice Ministry believes the prison project’s implementation details multiple factors to help stimulate economic processes, speed up the prison locations and penalty execution reforms, reducing index of repetition of crimes and the general workload for law enforcement institutions and costs of crime investigation and transportation of prisoners. Additionally, the project’s implementation is not expected to create additional costs for the state budget this year or the next.
Justifying the project, Bordāns notes that in the context of COVID-19 each ministry needs to look for short-term and long-term solutions to support the economy. The minister believes the prison represents «a critically important project for the country».
“Of course, the primary concern is safety – for residents, prison guards, visitors, service personnel and prisoners. Nevertheless, economic concerns are equally important. The current situation dictated the need to review and re-assess major state orders, which is one of the tools for stimulation of economic processes,” said Bordāns.
The ministry has calculated that as a result of construction it will be possible to recover 30 to 50 million euros for the state budget in taxes in the next couple of years, «aside from the positive economic and social effects in the future from the reformation of the prison administration, which is not possible to do without appropriate infrastructure». Once the new prison is ready, state expenditures on maintenance of old infrastructure will reduce.
“This is an infrastructure object important for public security. The project is almost ready. This is why we believe now is the time to speed up start of construction – the economy requires immediate investments to stimulate economic activity and raise employment in construction and related sectors,” said Bordāns.
Latvia has nine prisons, and six of them are older than 118 years. On top of that, none of those buildings were built for prison needs – they were adapted later. Buildings and infrastructure are physically and morally outdated. Justice Ministry mentions Estonia, which performed a reform of all prisons, shutting down all 12 old-style prisons and building three new ones in their place. In Latvia the discussion about construction of a new prison continues for at least 12 years, the ministry stresses.
If Justice Ministry’s proposal is supported, a new procurement will be organized following the design&build method, which demands full responsibility over the project’s construction procedure from the winner, the ministry explains.
To improve competitiveness, expand the range of contenders and reduce the project’s costs, it is planned to divide the project into two parts. The first part will focus on construction work that does not require the contractor to have Industrial Safety Certificate. The second part will focus on construction that does require the aforementioned certificate. The procurement for construction monitoring will be organized again, too.
Justice Ministry promises the total costs of the project will not exceed the previous amount set by the Cabinet of Ministers – EUR 147 million.
Considering that the project implementer’s – Courthouse Agency – base capital’s invested finances are available, the ministry believes the government may divert this money towards construction of a new project and financing of necessary activities in 2020 and 2021. State budget finances will not be necessary to complete the project in 2020 and 2021, the ministry explains.
It is planned Liepāja Prison will have room for 1 200 prisoners. The entire building complex will consists of eight different buildings. The total territory is planned to be 305 116 m2. The location is chosen 5.6 km away from Liepāja city centre.
LLC Arbora won the initial procurement for the construction of Liepāja prison. However, no contract was signed because the government failed to secure support for allocation of financing.
Arbora offered to complete work for the lowest price – EUR 113.6 million.