14 May, 2008

With no vision there is no trust

After 4 months it seems likely that one of my company's bank accounts will be unblocked by the Latvian tax office (VID). Imagine the pile of bills and penalty invoices I will finally be clearing off my desk. Oh the joy of doing something most people in capitalist economies take for granted. When I thought I would gain commercial happiness through intelligent business deals I was reduced to dealing with a mindless entity.

A fair punishment I am sure for those that break the law. In my case however this company has for a long time over paid tax by more than 5,000 lats. The problem started when the company registry lost my personal code and informed VID that the company is directed by someone not registered as a tax payer.

This communication is part of their standard procedure that no doubt has nothing to do with international standards like ISO 9001. I know this as I direct other companies in Latvia where my personal code is contained within the same company registry that should have provided the information they required whilst they waited for me to resubmit originals. But instead the Company Registry procedures, and many like it in Latvia, are based on the premise that the Latvian is not to be trusted. These non trustful procedures in Latvia are not ISO 9001 certified but SOL 1944 documentations of pre existing inefficient processes.

Once you get caught in a SOL 1944 there is no face you can meet as all staff are warned by their Director to not allow anyone with a problem to meet the Director and staff have no power to fix anything themselves. Correcting the fault of the organisation that made the error by paying high fees for fast processing will not make any difference once you have been reported to another authority like VID. To the organisation you are reported to you are seen as just a common criminal in conformance with the SOL 1944 premise that a Latvian is not to be trusted.

What really works in Latvia are contacts that can correct the issue fast so you don't have 4 months of hassle. Of course you pay these contacts and they are the same people that can corrupt the system and are not to be trusted.

So I must conclude that just maybe if Soviet Occupied Latvia 1944 (SOL 1944) procedures were to be replaced with ISO 9001 then the people with responsibility might not have a chance to be so corrupt and treat the public with the same distrust they see in themselves.

There is hope here because in 2007 one ISO 9001 accreditation company was the first to be registered in Latvia http://www.am.gov.lv/en/news/DomesticNews/2007/february/14-2/ . A bit of a joke there just being one accreditation company but other countries can be relied upon for accreditation just like the Latvian pilots that go to sit the easier EU compulsory English exam in Vilnius to be certified in Latvia then so will ISO 9001 fraudsters.

Maybe we have to go one step further back – Didn't I previously write about the benefits for the people of Latvia having one common optimistic vision for the future?

So if this topic ends in pessimism then why do I write it? The answer is that all the time when I meet with Non-Latvians doing business in Latvia they are frustrated at the difficulty of getting things done in Latvia. The lack of professionalism in people with government responsibility wears down the enthusiasm for doing more business in Latvia and as a result Latvia looses valuable resources that would lift the standard of living for all Latvians. When foreigners get together over a few beers/bbq and share stories it helps to indirectly alleviate the frustrations and may even enable a possible solution to be identified. In the worst case a solution may be to depart from Latvia and set up business in another country.

The patriots of Latvia come in all forms and many people that do a lot for Latvia do not have any Latvian heritage.

04 May, 2008

How to Beat Inflation in Latvia

Gee inflation is really making inroads in to income. Here are some tips on how to beat it.

Any software you pay a licence for is highly likely to be also available legally free of charge in an open source form. One of the better sites for searching for the type of software you require is http://www.sourceforge.net/ or TwoCows. Governments are moving away from high licencing fees as Singapore droped Microsoft in 2004 and the Nederlands is migrating to free software http://iht.com/articles/2008/03/05/business/open.php . An example of free anti virus software is http://www.avast.com/ and for free word processing compatible with all Microsoft Word documents try http://www.openoffice.org/ . Search for Key Software names like Firefox for Internet searches, Linux UBUNU as an Operating System, AVG for antivirus, ZoneAlarm for a firewall, Logmein for remote access to a computer, and ADrive for 50GB of online data storage.

If Heating costs are eating you up then think about Heat Pumps for floor heating, Thermal Solar for water heating in summer to offset your winter costs, and an ioniser pump for radiator and hot water all year round http://www.stafor.lv/ .

Work on your website to gain a higher percentage of the market. There are tools that can provide good feedback on the effectiveness of your website. AustCham Latvia can provide you a 30 page evaluation of your website.

Get a big storage tank to store farm diesel for your vehicle, Get off of bottled water, share one DSL connection with your neigbours and share the cost, AND REMEMBER THAT CASH IS KING so if you spend more now on decreasing your expenses then that is more important than calculating how many years it will take to recoup the expense - only people that think like sheep do that.

The best way to beat inflation is to start a new profitable business. The best new profitable business makes use of idle capacity in your current business or job, the second best way to start a profitable business is to replace a verticle component associated with your current business.