SRS employee allowed to work from Central Asia
Krists Ansons is Chief Tax Inspector in the International Transactions Control, Analysis and Methodology Division of the Tax Control Directorate of the SRS. He took up his post in March 2018. In addition to his work, he is studying for a PhD at the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia and researching the business environment in Central Asia. He does this outside working hours. However, another aspect is more important and was brought to the attention of Neatkarīgā by its sources - the SRS has allowed Krists Ansons to work remotely from Central Asia. First, he will work from Kyrgyzstan for six months, and then from Tajikistan for five months. This raises a number of questions. Both about the work permit and the payment of taxes, because when a person lives for so long in a foreign country, he sets a permanent establishment there, i.e. he becomes a resident. And also access to the SRS databases in third countries. In theory, Latvia is paying close attention to strengthening relations with Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan. However, there are also Russian interests, and a Latvian citizen with various access to important information could become interesting for the special services. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the pandemic that led to the remote working of civil servants in Latvia is over and they have returned to their workplaces. However, as this case shows, with exceptions.
Neatkarīgā called Krists Ansons on the local Latvian number listed on the SRS website - in Kyrgyzstan. (It is not clear who paid for the long-distance call.) The official says that he does not have a Kyrgyz work visa for the simple reason that technically, to get one, you have to work for Kyrgyzstan. But he works for an institution of the Republic of Latvia. He is in Kyrgyzstan as a student and researcher. He has consulted the Internal Security Department of the SRS on security and espionage risks. He works from his rented apartment and uses a special program for remote working. It does not even allow him to download information from the SRS databases to a USB stick. In addition, all data is encrypted. Everything is secure. The fact that no spies will be sitting behind his back while he is working is guaranteed by the security clearances he has been granted for SRS information. He is a proven and trustworthy employee.
In total, Krists Ansons plans to work on researching Central Asia for 11 months. He is doing this as a student at the University of Latvia and a visiting researcher at Lund University. First Kyrgyzstan, then Tajikistan. As the official continues to work full-time, it effectively means that the State Revenue Service has set up a one-man representation in Central Asia.
Explanation by the SRS
Neatkarīgā contacted the public relations department of the SRS with a request to clarify the reasons for allowing Krists Ansons to work from Kyrgyzstan for a long period of time, while retaining access to SRS databases. Here is the reply received:
"The employee referred to in your question is allowed to work remotely from abroad because his stay abroad is related to his studies at the PhD program of the Faculty of Law of the University of Latvia, in the framework of which, outside working hours, the employee carries out research work in the international research program "Central Asian Law: legal culture and business conditions in Central Asia", which also includes participants from other European countries.
What exactly is the work of this staff member and what are his responsibilities?
The employee works in the International Transaction Risks Unit of the Tax Compliance Incentive Department of the SRS, with a particular focus on transfer pricing issues.
What databases does Krists Ansons have access to?
The employee has been given access to the necessary SRS information systems for the performance of his duties.
Do all SRS employees have this possibility to work from a foreign country?
It is not a common practice, but each case is assessed individually.
In addition, SRS employees can perform their duties remotely, including when travelling abroad on business trips. An employee has the right to perform their duties remotely if their direct manager agrees and the remote working does not pose any risks to data processing. The employee must ensure the protection of personal data and other information protected by law and comply with the requirements of external and internal laws and regulations when carrying out remote work.
Have potential security (espionage) risks been assessed?
The existing technical solution ensures data protection when working remotely, regardless of the country in which the domain user is logged in.
The risks of remote working from a data security point of view have been assessed by the SRS and the solution for implementing remote work is designed to mitigate the potential risks. In particular, if an information system and the data it contains are perceived to pose a risk, then that information system can only be accessed in person and cannot be accessed remotely."
In summary, the State Revenue Service is a particularly modern institution in terms of the organization of its work, and it is extremely forthcoming to its employees. If for personal reasons there is a need to work very, very, very remotely, this is possible. Even from Central Asia.