Investors meet government but immigration policy still to be worked out

The influential Foreign Investors Council in Latvia (FICIL) had its annual meeting with central government in Rīga May 31, with both sides agreeing their priorities for the business and investment environments in the country are closely aligned.

Speaking after talks at the cabinet office, Prime Minister Krišjanis Kariņš said thoughts between the two bodies were "Overwhelmingly in the same direction," even flagging up similarities in the presentations each side made to their other. This, he averred, was a "Very, very positive thing."

Topics covered included the availability of a suitably educated workforce, tax issues and the fight against corruption.

Kariņš repeatedly flagged up the government's plan to reform and clean up the financial sector and suggested Latvia should no longer be thought of as a country attractive to investors only because of cheap labor.

However, the PM admitted that differences remain within his cabinet on how to organize a suitable immigration policy to offset expected domestic labor shortages.

"There is not unity at the moment on immigration policy among government parties," he said, adding that "not all political forces are ready" for the introduction of such a policy because of lingering fears about the threat it might pose to the Latvian language and cultural values. Nevertheless he said it should be possible to formulate a constructive set of immigration rules in future.

"We acknowledge that the government has a tough agenda... We all have respect for different views on this subject and there needs to be a public debate on it," said FICIL Honorary Chairperson Charlotte Norrby.

 

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