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.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sounds like all the joys of doing business in Russia. From what you've written, (and I've read) you've gone to great effort to provide benefit and opportunities for Latvia and met with indifference.

I've seen this mentality in play here in Moscow too. People are very set in their (old) ways. And I think this tends to be the reason why businesses offering tangible benefits to countries the likes of Latvia and Russia face a constant uphill battle.

Anyway, I hope you persist and that eventually, they take note of the value in all that you are offering.


(a fellow overseas Aussie)