President of Latvia Egils Levits has returned the Law on Local Governments adopted by the Saeima on 8 September 2022 to the parliament for reconsideration, citing three major problems with provisions of Article 58 of the Law.
In his letter to the Speaker of the Saeima, President Levits urges parliament to ensure the compliance of Paragraph 2 of Article 58 with Article 101 of the Constitution of Latvia, Satversme. Parliament shall specify that elected local councils should be open to Latvian citizens and European Union citizens permanently residing in Latvia.
According to President, Article 58 of the Law shall specify that ‘only Latvian citizens and European Union citizens permanently residing in Latvia shall be eligible to elect members of community councils in direct elections’. This would align the provisions of the Law with Article 101 of Satversme.
President of Latvia also proposed to add the definition of community council competencies to the Article 58, whereby legislators would specify the core competencies of such community councils. In addition, Article 59 should also be expanded and provide community councils the right to decide the implementation of community budgets.
President Levits also urges parliament to consider the name of such councils. ‘The term ‘community councils’ used in the Law creates the impression of such councils acting in a similar capacity as various advisory councils and commissions that convey the opinion of local residents and ensure participation of local communities. [..] To avoid any misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Law once it comes to force, [..] I urge the Saeima to substitute ‘community councils’ with a more precise and contextually appropriate term ‘local community councils’, which would make the application and provisions of the Law clearer,’ President Levits argues.
President of Latvia also thanked Saeima and its Public Administration and Local Government Committee for the enormous work it has done to finalise and adopt the bill.