The European Commission has today decided to confer the management of Sapard aid to the Latvian authorities, enabling Latvia to commence the implementation of its Sapard programme. Under this scheme, Latvia will now be entitled to € 22.2 million annually. Payment of the first advance can now be made (maximum 49% of the annual amount). Latvia is the fourth candidate country to move into the operational stage of the innovative Sapard initiative. This first decision on the provisional conferral of management of aid covers the following main measures of the Latvian Sapard programme: "Modernisation of agricultural machinery, equipment and construction of buildings"; "Afforestation of agricultural land"; "Improvement of agricultural and fisheries product processing and marketing"; "Development and diversification of economic activities providing for alternative income"; "Improvement of general rural infrastructure" and "Training".