On Thursday, 15 March, the Saeima adopted in the final reading amendments to the Law on Submissions. The amendments provide that as of 1 September 2012 inhabitants will be able to contact state and municipal institutions through the centralised state and municipal services portal www.latvija.lv and thus participate in public governance more efficiently.
The amendments to the Law will give people the opportunity to file submissions with authorities without signing them electronically. Authentication of the user in the www.latvija.lv portal will be performed via Internet bank or electronic ID cards – this will enable the authorities to verify the identity of submitters.
A portal user will be able to choose to whom and in what form to address his/her submission, fill it out and send it immediately. The submitter will be notified by e-mail about the receipt of a reply and will then be able to read the reply to the submission in his/her user profile.
State and municipal institutions will have to integrate their document management systems either by means of the technical solution offered by the State Regional Development Agency or by developing their own solution. Each authority will receive notification of a new submission, and it will have to decide whether the submission falls within the scope of its responsibility. If the submission falls within its scope of responsibility, the reply to it will have to be provided within a month. If the submission falls outside the authority’s scope of responsibility, it will then have to duly notify the submitter or, if it seems feasible, forward the submission to a different authority and inform the submitter accordingly.
The Law stipulates that public institutions will be able to use the centralised services portal for mutual communication, including cases where a joint reply to one or several similar submissions needs to be prepared. Thus as the principle of a one-stop-shop is gradually introduced, submissions can be processed more quickly.
If the submitter is not satisfied with the reply, he/she will be able to appeal. Currently, public authorities have the right not to reply to electronic submissions which have not been signed electronically; those who have filed such submissions may not request a reply to be provided by court order.
The Law on Submissions also provides for the possibility to publish submissions of particular public interest not only on the websites of the authorities involved but also on the portal www.latvija.lv. The replies furnished by relevant authorities to these submissions will also be published on the portal, along with explanations of the relevant legal provisions.
The new wording of the Law gives authorities the right not to reply to a submission which has not been signed, which does not contain the name of the submitter, which does not require a reply because one has already been provided to a similar submission, or which does not require a reply in principle. The relevant authority will take note of such a submission and will use it at its own discretion. Furthermore, relevant authority will have the right not to inform the submitter on the receipt of the submission.
In order to relieve the workload of courts and to prevent a person from repeatedly contesting the same reply in court, the Law states that from now on only the Administrative District Courts will examine all matters regarding administrative acts or the actual conduct of an institution. Other amendments set forth that a person will be able to lodge a complaint for a delayed reply only if this person is able to prove that such a delay has caused a significant injury to his/her rights or interests.
These amendments will not affect the existing procedure for filing submissions provided for in the Law because the opportunity to file submissions via the www.latvija.lv portal is an additional option; it will still be possible to file submissions in writing. The new wording of the Law will not affect other ways of submitting data, such as the use of the Electronic Declaration System of the State Revenue Service or the e-service portal www.epakalpojumi.lv, processing of these data, nor will it affect the use of the secure electronic signature.
The www.latvija.lv portal is a state information system that has to comply with statutory security requirements. The portal will use the online authentication procedure of Internet banks and thus ensure an adequate level of security for data of legal and natural entities.